Walls

Some of the most intriiguing walls in town can be found on Atlantic Avenue and Hinsdate Street — directly off the L train’s Atlntic Avenue stop — in East New York.  It is where graffiti writers and street artists convened this past weekend in the spirit of unity. Featured above is old school Uptown/Bronx writer Clyde adjacent to fellow Ex Vandals’ member Will Power. What follows are several images I captured earlier this week:

Will Power posing in front of his rendition of Biggie

Albertus Joseph checking out his work before adding final touches

Graffiti meets fine art in Col Wallnuts’ abstraction

Long Island-based Phetus 88

Ex Vandals Ree and Kool Kito

Staten Island-based La Femme Cheri

The legendary Part One

OG Millie does Muhammed Ali

Keep posted to our Instagram for more images of graffiti and street art that surfaced last weekend in East New York. And, reports Will Power, we can look forward to a new set of walls — of both graffiti and street art — next month in the same location.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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The following guest poet is by Lower East Side-based photographer Ana Candelaria

It was love at first wheat paste. After several months of photographing Connecticut-born Sara Lynne Leo‘s work on NYC streets, I had the opportunity to meet her at COLLAGE NYC LIVE Art & Networking Event at the Delancey. More recently, I was able to find out a bit about her:

How old were you when you discovered your love for art?

I knew at four or five years that I love making art. My mother was an art teacher, and she always encouraged me.

Have you had any formal art training?

Yes, I studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University and at Emerson College. When I began studying art, I wanted to become a fine art oil painter in the style of the Italian classical masters. But  later on, I decided to move on to something more commercial that would, also, allow me to express myself on a personal level. I then studied animation.

Who are some of the artists who inspire you?

The British painter Francis Bacon. He’s super creepy and dark. I also like Kiki Smith‘s edginess.

Why did you decide to hit the streets?

I wanted to share ordinary stories that people could relate to. My character is an everyday person with everyday problems — who lives in the city.  It is a blend of illustrative style and cartoon.

How old is this character? When did you first create him?

My character is four to five months old.

Where can we find your character? I’ve seen it primarily on the Lower East Side and in Williamsburg.

My character has also made its way to the Bronx, but can be found mainly in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

I discovered some of your political work on your website. Why don’t we see more of your political work on the streets?

Good question! I ask myself the same exact thing. I guess it feels different to make a political statement vs. something more personal. I’m more inrerested in personal expression in public space at this point.

What kind of response have you received from the work you have shared on the streets?

Lots of positive responses.

How do you feel about the movement of street art to galleries?

I feel disillusioned that so many galleries ask us to “pay to play.” I don’t like when it’s so commercialized. It’s frustrating that it’s become so monetized.

What’s ahead?

I’d like to integrate animation into my character and bring him to life on the streets.

I would love to see that!

Interview and photos by Ana Candelaria

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The following guest post is by photographer/arts educator Fawn Phillips aka Rachel Fawn Alban

A park in the largely residential neighborhood of Hackensack, NJ may sound like an unlikely destination for graffiti lovers, but Union Street Park is a gem. Curated by Darrius-Jabbar Sollas since 2007, its walls feature some of the best graff I have seen in some time. Pictured above are DC-based  CRI and Bronx-based Kingbee. Some more photos of the graffiti art I photogrphed this past week follow:

Massachusetts-based Mike Helz

Veteran Bronx writer Nev and Bronx native Abe

UK-based Trans1

Veteran writers Jus One, Vase One and Mad2

Bronx-native Pase

Veteran Bronx writer Jew

Union Street Park is located at 97 Union Street, Hackensack NJ

Photos Fawn Phillips 

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I came upon Ramón Amorós‘s delightfully playful aesthetic while street art-hunting in Madrid’s Malasaña neighborhood. I recently had the opportunity to pose some questions to the gifted Madrid-based Argentine artist who will be visiting the US this week.

You are primarily an illustrator. What stirred you to take your characters to the streets?

I’ve been drawing all my life. While studying for my Fine Arts degree, I took a class in wall painting. That was the first time I had a chance to see one of my characters on a large scale. A bit later, while taking an illustration course, I became friends with a couple of guys — including Sr Val and PoyoFrito — who were into graffiti, and I began to be much more aware of walls as an interesting artistic format. So it all began out of the simple desire to see my drawings on a bigger scale. I also really enjoy the dialogue that the public space allows between my work and the people around it.

Your characters are wildly imaginative. Can you tell us something about them? What inspires them? Where do your ideas come from?

Well, the aspect of drawing I most enjoy is making things up…creating stuff that doesn’t or can’t exist. To me that is the most fascinating quality of representation. I have always been keen on characters of all kinds…monsters, creatures, animals. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been interested in animals; my mom used to get me all kinds of books about them — the weirder, the better. Later on, I began mixing different animal parts together to create my own. I enjoy studying features — eyes, noses, mouths — separately to see how I can combine them together to make them look funny or weird.

How have folks responded to seeing your characters in public spaces?

Surprisingly well! Painting in public spaces allows a closeness with viewers that few art forms permit. It brings people closer  — to praise the artwork or even to complain about it. It starts a conversation. I have always had good experiences. I love children’s reactions to my paintings, but what most surprises me is when older folks approach me and say how much they enjoy my work. This is something that I would have never thought possible, as I think of my style as one that appeals to young people. It’s fantastic that public space enables these kinds of conversations to happen!

I came upon your work in Madrid. Have you painted in other cities? 

I usually enjoy painting when I travel. I left a couple of small pieces in Brazil, Senegal and  — more recently — in Israel. I like the idea of leaving a mark in places I enjoy, and I also love the exchange between art, hospitality and the human connection that can come out of it.

When you paint outside, do you work from a sketch? 

Yeah. I usually want to know what the final result will look like. But I also enjoy some space for improvisation to keep things fresh. I usually add a lot of shading and details through lines or dots, and that gives a lot of room for small changes, corrections or additions that happen on the spot.

What’s ahead? 

Right now, I would like to develop my personal work further. I want to take on bigger walls and more ambitious projects. I’d like to connect with galleries and with more artists for collaborations outside of Madrid. I am getting ready to head to the US — to  NYC, San Francisco, LA and New Orleans. I will be in NYC from the 5th to the 16th,

That sounds great! Good luck with it all!

Photo credits: 1-4 Courtesy of the artist; 5 Lois Stavsky; interview Lois Stavsky

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A cultural event that takes place on the Dutch King’s birthday, Kings Spray celebrated its 4th edition this year. Under the curatorial direction of Street Art Today founder Peter Ernst Coolen, local, national and international street artists and graffiti writers painted on container-installations scattered around the NDSM Wharf in front of the soon-to-be-open international street art and graffiti museum. The boldly-hued mural featured above was painted by Mexican artist Cix Mugre. Several more images — all captured by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad — follow:

Barcelona-based Dune

Spanish artist Malakkai and Dutch duo Karski and Beyond

The Amsterdam-based duo Pipsqueak Was Here!!!

Denmark-based Balstroem and Richard Holmes

The legendary NYC-based Blade posing with Queen Taraji in front of tribute mural by Swiss artist Soy R2F with pieces by Blade & UK-based Dominic950

Photos by Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad 

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Conceived and curated by Ad Hoc Art, the Welling Court Mural Project has been transforming Welling Court and its neighboring blocks in Astoria, Queens for the past decade. Featured above are the works of See One and Hellbent who once again shared their talents with us in this community-driven project. Several more images that Ana Candelaria and I captured this past Sunday follow:

 Roberto Castillo and Kork93

 Jeromy Velasco in memory of the Stonewall Riots’ 50th anniversary —  for NYC Pride with the LISA Project NYC

The legendary Greg Lamarche aka SP.ONE 

Queens-based Free5 captured at work

And an hour later

Never Satisfied

Joe Iurato pays homage to Keith Haring 

Welling Court Mural Project founder and curator Garrison Buxton for NYC Pride with the LISA Project NYC (close-up from huge mural) — and Yes One and more graffiti art below

Photo credits: 1, 4, 6, 9 & 10 Lois Stavsky; 2, 3, 5 & 7 Ana Candelaria 

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I was delighted to have the opportuity to meet up with the multi-talented Bogota-based artist Andres Osuna aka Bochica who is currently visiting NYC — ready and eager to share his vision with us.

When and where did you first start painting on the streets?

I began ten years ago while I was studying filmmaking in Buenos Aires, The first mural I ever painted was a Tree of Life in Palermo.

What inpired you to do so? Why did you choose to hit the streets?

Because the streets belong to everyone. It is our collective home. Working on the streets enables me to communicate with and share knowledge with a wide community. I see painting on the streets as a revolutionary act.

Do you paint with any crews?

I’m a member of the art collective Renova. Our mission is to transform deteriorated or abandoned urban areas into pedagogical platforms using art as a tool.

Do you generally work in illegal or legal spaces?

I’d say 90% of what I do is illegal.

What is your family’s attitude towards what you do?

They are so supportive! My mother is a warrior. She was the first fire-woman in Colombia. She has always taught me to follow my passion.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

All of it!

What is the source of your income?

It’s all art-related. Commissions…set design…festivals…video shoots.

That’s quite impressive! Have you a formal art education?

I’m self-taught.  I studied filmmaking, but not visusal arts.

How do you feel about the role of social media in this scene?

I think it’s a good tool; it helps us artists connect with each other.

What is the riskiest thing you’ve ever done on the streets? And why did you do it?

Painting in very dangerous neighborhoods — where I had to worry about both the police and the local gangs.Why did I do it? Because it was necessary–

Do you work with a sketch-in-hand? Or do you just let it flow?

I do both. It depends on the circumstances. But I do best when I work from my head.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

Sometimes!

Are there any particular artists out there who inspire you?

I’m inspired by Diego Rivera and the entire school of social realism. As far as living artists, Obey is a personal favorite. I like his aesthetic of resistance. I also love Banksy‘s sarcasm. And I’m a huge fan of Bordalo and the way he uses trash to create amazing public artworks. My stencil art has been inspired by the Bogata-based collective Excusasdo.

What about cultures? Do any specific ones inspire you?

Indigenous cultures inspire me. I’ve been hugely influenced by many native civilizations, particularly the Chibcha one.

How has your work evolved since you first started painting on the streets over a decade ago?

I feel that everything I’d done up until now was experimentation. My style is far more developed and my ideas are far more synthesized.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

I see the artist as a model for transformation. Just as an artist can show us how a surface can be transformed, the artist can teach us how to transform the world.

What’s ahead?

I’d like to continue to grow as an artist to help transform myself and the world. Hopofully, I have a few decades ahead.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; all photos courtest of the artist

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Underhill Walls — a  model grassroots project in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Prospect Heights —  has once again morphed. This time it is a canvas for 17 diversely enchanting murals reflecting the theme Urban Jungle. While visiting it last week, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions about Underhill Walls— its origins and more — to its indefatigable curator, Jeff Beler.

Underhill Walls continues to bring so much intrigue and beauty to this neighborhood. When did this project first begin?

The first set of murals surfaced here — at St. Johns Pl. and Underhill Avenue — back in the fall of 2015.

How were you able to access these walls? The concept is brilliant. It reminds me of the Centre-fuge Public Art Project that for years transformed an East Village eyesore — a neglected DOT trailer — into a rotating open-air street art gallery.

I live nearby, and I had been eyeing those walls for 10 years. They’d been ravaged by a fire, and they’d been neglected. I eventually contacted the owner of the three-floor abandoned building who was open to the concept of beautifying the property.

And then what? How did the actual transformation take place?

I started to put a team together. The first step was to build panels. And the first artists to participate in the project back in 2015 were: UR New York, Fumero, Badder Israel, Raquel Echanique, Col Wallnuts and Sienide.

Did you collaborate with any organizations at the time?

For our first project, we coordinated with the non-profit Love Heals. Titled “What’s Your Sign? Mural Project,” our first project’s mission was to raise public awareness for the HIV/AIDS crisis among  Black and Latino youth.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in seeing this project through these past few years?

Selecting artists with the right chemistry to work together. When that happens, everything flows smoothly and beautifully. And this is exasctly how “Urban Jungle” played out.

How often do the murals change?

Twice a year. Every May and October. Since 2015, we’ve had nine rotations.

What’s ahead?

So long as the panels are here, we will be here! And each project will continue to reflect a distinct theme.

Fabulous!

Images

1  Oscar Lett

2  Justin Winslow

Ralph Serrano (L) and Giannina Gutierrez (R) 

4  Jaima and Marco Santini collaboration

5  Nassart

6  Jeff Beler

7  Android and Miishab collaboration

8  Majo

Interview with Jeff conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos by Lois Stavsky

Keep posted to StreetArtNYC Instagram for more recent images from Underhill Walls.

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Based in Bari in the South of Italy, Nico Skolp is a masterful designer, graffiti writer and muralist with a particular passion for working in public spaces. As he readies to visit and share his talents with us in New York City, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to him:

You began painting on the streets as a graffiti writer while still a teenager. How has your style evolved since?

I still paint graffiti, but I am always searching for new inspiration. I’m interested in the possibility of communicating with a larger audience — one outside of the graffiti community. My murals blend shapes and colors into elaborate site-specific abstractions. Although graffiti is composed of  letters, it is more difficult to understand and more abstract than some other types of art. It is an interesting paradox!

You’ve been increasingly collaborating with other artists. What is that experience like? Is there any artist — in particular — with whom you’d like to collaborate?

I like collaborations. I like sharing visions and methods. It helps sharpen skills. If I could choose anyone with whom to collaborate, I would definitely say MOMO. His works are so interesting!  I admire his research and his experimentation.

Have you a formal art education? 

I graduated  with a degree in Industrial and Communication Design. In fact, I feel more like a designer than an artist. In 2006, I set up a visual arts and design agency, Ff3300.

Do any particular graffiti/street art memories stand out?

There is no one memory — in particular — that stands out. But I feel that my crew — Sorry Guys — contributed to the growth of a new generation of writers. Younger writers often enthusiastically tell me how much we have influenced them, as they grew up following us. It is an honor to think that I have inspired other writers, as  others — who came before me — inspired me.

When you paint in public spaces, do you work with a sketch-in-hand or just let it flow?

It depends. If the work is a commission, frequently I must first produce a sketch. Otherwise, I don’t, but I do seek inspiration beforehand. I used to work spontaneously, but recently, I’ve been using a method based on the rules that represent my style. It was from my style that the software open-source — based on shapes that are controlled by certain variables — was conceived. With these, you can make infinite compositions. You can download the software here. I designed it with Piero Molino, a close friend — an engineer who works for UBER in San Francisco.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

In general, yes! I’m satisfied, but I’m always striving to improve. Technically, I think I’m at a good level, The skills I have acquired have boosted my self-confidence. I’m happy with my life choices.

Have you exhibited your work in gallery settings? 

I’ve never had a solo exhibition. I’ve just contributed canvases to some graffiti exhibitions such as the one held at the 2010 Meeting of Styles in Tessalonica, Greece.  I’ve been thinking recently about showing in a solo exhibition and hopefully start with one in Bari. I love this city and it is where it all started for me. It has recently become a hub for tourism, and I love the idea of making a cultural contribution to it. 

What’s ahead?

I just finished my latest work in Matera, the 2019 Capital of Culture in Europe, and I’m heading now to  New York City, where I’d like to explore its urban art culture and make a contribution — why not a wall? — to the city! I will make myself available for any opportunities.

Yes! That would be wonderful!

Note: Nico Skolp can be contacted via his Instagram or his email nicoff3300@gmail.com.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; all images courtesy of the artist

Featured images:

  1. Matera, Italy
  2. Bari, Italy
  3. Bari, Italy
  4. Corato, Italy
  5. Matera, Italy

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Dublin-based stencil artist Solus has once again brought his talents to NYC. Featured here are several images of his work on NYC streets and from his upcoming solo exhibition opening this Thursday, June 6 at 212 Arts in the East Village.

Another image of  Solus at work on his “Boxing Ballerina ” portrait at the Ridge Hotel on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Up in he South Bronx — painted on an earlier visit

Preparing for Thursday’s opening at 212 Arts

To be featured in “What Was in My Head,” the artist’s upcoming solo exhibition at 212 Arts

What Was In My Head opens Thursday evening from 6-9:30pm. Located at 523 East 12th Street, 212 Arts is open Thursday-Saturday from 3-7pm and Sunday, 2-8pm.

All photos courtesy of the artist; photos 1-2 by Ana Candelaria

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