Walls

We returned last week to revisit the treasure trove of graffiti in an a Illescas, Spain abandoned lot that we’d discovered by chance last year. In addition to discovering some pieces that weren’t visible to us then, we came upon some newer pieces, including the one featured above. Several more follow:

Pichação and more

Color amidst the ruins

Marian and more

Burning in Illescas

Raek and Soker

Oca Rubinho, Raek and more

Photos by Sara C. Mozeson and Lois Stavsky

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While visiting Brussels last month, we discovered a treasure trove murals by 20 different artists, all members of the  Propaganza collective. Commissioned by the municipality of Ixelles, the murals — collectively known as the Boondael Project — add flair and intrigue to the long wall behind the STIB tram depot in Ixelles.

The calligraphic mural pictured above painted by the masterful Brussels-based artist Solo Cink, who discovered the art of calligraphy in his travels. Several more artworks from this striking 2020 public art project follow:

Antwerp-based classically-trained artist Dzia

Brussels-based visual artist Dake 25

Belgium-based multidisciplinary artist Matthew Dawn

Brussels-based artists Samuel Idmtal & Orlando Kintero, portrait of Pierre Rabhi, French writer, farmer, and environmentalist

Belgium-based contemporary artist Defo

The largely elusive, beguiling Belgium-based artist million.16cts

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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Back in 2019, Amsterdam Street Art organized a street art festival, If Walls Could Speak, that produced ten captivating murals painted on a row of large apartment buildings in Platanenweg in East Amsterdam. We had the opportunity to visit these hugely impressive murals while in Amsterdam earlier this month. The alluring image featured above  — representing Amsterdam’s free spirit — was fashioned by Netherlands-based Niels van Swaemen and Kaspar van Leek, known collaboratively as  Studio Giftig. Several more murals painted during this groundbreaking street art festival follow:

German artist Case Maclaim

Australian artist Smug One

UK-based Dan Kitchener

  Netherlands-based Sjem Bakkus & IVES One 

Netherlands-based Leon Keer

German artist HERA of Herakut

Photo credits: 1 Sara C Mozeson, 2-7 Lois Stavsky

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From her strikingly expressive stickers and wheatpastes to her distinctly alluring mural art and paintings, Eye Sticker creates a wonderfully diverse range of visually seductive artworks. I was delighted to recently have the opportunity to interview the talented artist.

When and where did you first get up?

It was in 2020 on the streets of the Village, where I was living at the time. I put up a sticker of an eye. That was the first time I ever shared anything in a public space.

What inspired you to do so?

It was something that I’d always wanted to do. And during the pandemic, I finally had the time to do it. I love street art, and I wanted to be part of the scene.

And why an eye? What inspired that?

Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica inspired it. I was drawn to its eye.

Have you any preferred surfaces?

I love smooth surfaces – as smooth as possible – in high traffic spots. I like hitting the Williamsburg Bridge

Would you rather work with permission or without it when you’re out on the streets?

Without it! I love making art anywhere, but if what I’m doing is legal, it doesn’t feel like street art.

Does any specific work you shared on the streets stand out to you?

My most meaningful one was the Trump troll wheatpaste. I designed it back in 2020. It was the biggest street art piece I’d done to date and getting it out there made me feel like a real street artist.

What about experiences or encounters while getting up? Have you any particularly memorable ones?

Yes! I was about to put up a new piece at Freeman Alley late at night when a homeless woman with luggage approached me. Something about her terrified me. I started to run and she ran after me. I then tried to distract her by pointing to the sky. I said, “Hey, look at that!” She did and I quickly made my escape!

Do you prefer working alone or with others?

I generally like to work alone, but I like collaborating with other artists on stickers. Among the artists I’ve collaborated with are Chris RWK and ButtSup.

Have you exhibited your work in gallery settings? If so, where?

Yes! I’ve exhibited in several places. Among them are: 17 Frost, Artel, All Street, The Glass Box Gallery, 188 Allan Street and One Art Space.

Have you any particular cultural influences?

Urban architecture and urban life, in general, are my biggest influence. I used to work as an architect.

How do you feel about the movement of street art and graffiti into galleries?

I like it! It gives me an opportunity to meet new people who have similar sensibilities.

And have you any feelings — positive or negative — regarding the engagement of graffiti and street artists with the corporate world?

I have no problem at all with it, so long as what is being promoted aligns with my values. It’s great for artists to get to do what they love to do and get paid for it!

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

They’re my biggest fans.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

100%. I also work as a designer.

Have you any other avid interests?

Vegan food.

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

I hate that we artists need to engage with it.

Have you a formal art education? If so, do you value it?

Yes. I studied Architecture at Shenkar College in Tel Aviv. And I do value it because it helped me develop a good sense of design.

When you paint murals – as you’ve begun to do recently – do you work with a sketch-in-hand or just let it flow?

I work with a sketch, but I would like to be more spontaneous.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece? 

Yup! I won’t stop working on it until I am.

How important is commercial success to you at this point in your career?

At this point it isn’t important. Right now my focus is on gaining experience.

Are there any particular challenges that you’ve had to overcome these past few years?

Yes. I was sick with Lyme disease for over two years. It affected every aspect of my life, including my art. It made my art darker.

As an American/Moroccan/Israeli artist, how have the recent events in the Middle East impacted you?

It took me over a month to overcome the initial shock as to what happened in Israel on October 7. My entire body was in a state of shock. And once the reality had set in, I felt I had to get a message out on the streets. Inspired by the kidnapped posters I began seeing taped onto all kinds of surfaces, I designed my own featuring a real baby who had been kidnapped – covered by a strip of tape. I then began posting them in public spaces.

What’s ahead?

More solo shows and more large murals. It’s been wonderful to paint on the streets here in Downtown Brooklyn and to have the opportunity to engage with passersby who have shown me so much love!

Note: You can find out more about Eye Sticker and visit her shop here.

Eye Sticker interview conducted by Lois Stavsky with Rachel Alban and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1. 6, 7 & 8 Lois Stavsky; 3, 4 & 5 courtesy Eye Sticker 

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The following guest post was submitted by street art enthusiast, arts writer and photographer Kristy Calabro 

A delightfully versatile and accessible form of artistic expression, sticker art is documented and celebrated in the groundbreaking, AXS Film Fund-winner, “Sticker Movie.”  Spanning 23 countries and over 80 artists, “Sticker Movie” offers an intimate glance into this beloved graffiti/street art subculture.

In anticipation of its East Coast premiere this weekend — January 12, 13, and 14 — at Brooklyn Art Haus, I had the opportunity to talk to its director, Will Deloney aka Chilly Willy’s Igloo and producer/writer Sha-Risse Smith aka Agent5Smith.

When did you first come up with the idea of making a documentary on sticker culture?

Will: The idea for “Sticker Movie” started during a serendipitous sticker trade with Sha-Risse Smith aka Agent5Smith. As we chatted, I discovered that she had written a feature film, “Strive,” starring Danny Glover. In pitching the idea of the documentary to her, instantly it became clear – we were the dream team for ““Sticker Movie.”  Sha-Risse not only possessed exceptional writing skills, but also proved to be an outstanding producer with an extensive network in the sticker community. Agent and I embarked on a journey that felt truly magical.

Sha-Risse: The idea was swirling around in my head for some time. I knew the work it would take, and I could not do it alone. After trading stickers and vibing over Hendrix, Will messaged me about a collaboration, and I agreed. That was January 3rd, 2021.

What do you think is the main appeal (‘appeel’) of stickers?

Sha-Risse: Stickers appeal to different people for different reasons, but the common factor is that they are low-risk. When getting up, stickers are quick and easy. People are less likely to get caught. But risks can also be financial. Stickers are relatively inexpensive. Someone may not be able to afford a canvas or print, but they can buy a sticker. Artists may not have money for spray paint or supplies, but they can grab a handful of label 228s for free. With stickers, there is less at stake.

Will: First, there’s the nostalgia factor – taking us back to the simpler joys of childhood, getting a gold star sticker for an achievement. I’ve never thought about this until now, but gold stars in video games awarded must have come from that same achievement concept. Also, the compact nature of stickers means artists can transform any surface — bringing creativity to unexpected places. Their accessibility and ease make them the democratic go-to’s of street artists. Collecting and trading stickers fosters a sense of connection and don’t forget their DIY spirit – stickers are the punk rock of the art world: rebellious, personal, and extremely contagious.

Stickers are an escape; they’re therapy, and a way to mark a spot to say, “I was here.”   What do you see as  the primary advantage of stickers?

Sha-Risse: Stickers are a form of art therapy. When getting up, I exercise, breathe fresh air, and interact with my environment. I often walk for hours around the city putting up stickers and photographing street art. It’s cathartic. The best use of stickers is to simply enjoy them.

Abe Lincoln Jr once said, “Stickers are little bite-sized civil disobedience.” Are stickers the answer to all the capitalist propaganda out there?

Sha-Risse: All street art is the answer to capitalist propaganda. However, stickers are unique. You can put one image in many places fairly quickly. But you can also fit several in one space. Their small size is an advantage. You can send them around the world and get up in places you have never been. Stickers are unmatched when it comes to coverage.

How was it like to experience the “Sticker Movie” premiere in Portland? And why did you choose to show it there first?

Will: From day one, we wanted “Sticker Movie” to be a cinematic experience, and Cinemagic, the magical independent theater in Portland where we screened, was flawless. The city’s vibrant and supportive community of artists, coupled with its thriving street art scene, made it an obvious choice. Portland embraces creativity, and we knew that our film would feel right at home among the eclectic and open-minded residents. Witnessing the genuine enthusiasm was the ultimate reward for the time and energy invested in the documentary. Portland not only hosted our premiere, but it became an integral part of the story we were telling.

Sha-Risse: Overall, my experience in Portland was incredible. There were tears of overwhelming joy and relief. We pulled off three screenings and four events in one weekend. We worked hard. I am grateful to the community of sticker heads and normies who came out to support us. I am thankful for the old and new friends who welcomed me. There was so much love in Portland; I will never forget that experience.

I loved when Slappy says, “When you have stickers, you’re never alone.”  Have you any thoughts regarding how stickers bring people together?

Sha-Risse:  I encourage others to discover the community organically on their own. Attend a show, make sticker trades, and find individuals you connect with. Do what works for you. Like the art we create, each person’s experience is uniquely theirs. I am not countering Slappy’s line. I wrote it because I believe it. But it is important to know that not everyone’s participation looks the same. That is the beautiful thing about our community. The sticker scene is diverse, and there is something for everyone.

Will: The communal nature of sticker culture is like an unspoken invitation to join a vibrant and inclusive creative tribe. Artists, collectors, photographers, and enthusiasts, drawn together by their love for this pocket-sized art form, share a unique bond that transcends geographical boundaries. The act of trading and sharing stickers becomes a language of its own, connecting individuals who might never have crossed paths otherwise. It’s a beautiful collision of creativity and camaraderie, proving that in the world of stickers, the adhesive that binds us is as strong as the art itself.

Do you want to give shoutouts to anyone who helped make this movie possible?

Sha-Risse: Shoutout to Niceo CM. He supported me throughout this journey, and I want to thank him publicly. Making “Sticker Movie” was challenging, and I vented to Niceo weekly and sometimes daily over the last three years. He listened while motivating me to toughen up and keep going. Also, shout out to Chris Robots Will Kill. He was the first artist to say, Yes, to being in the movie. Without his recommendations and help, we would not have this New York premiere.

Will: I really want to give my shoutout to Agent5Smith. Without her, none of this is possible. She has worked tirelessly with the mantra of “whatever is best for the film.” She has put over three years of her life into this film, and her love and passion for stickers is why we are here. Thank you, Agent. I love you. Also, shoutout to Dazey Phase, our Executive Producers on this journey.

Will there be a Sticker Movie 2?

Sha-Risse: There are some exciting things in the works. Stay tuned!

Produced by Emmy-winning creative studio Pixelated Ideas, it all started with a sicker trade…three years in the making of bringing small stickers to the big screen. When artists see their stickers displayed in diverse communities and in urban spaces, they feel a sense of pride. Connections are fostered locally and globally. Messages and ideas are shared, as mundane objects — like doors, lampposts, and mailboxes — are transformed into mini art galleries. An effective medium for self-expression, stickers, ultimately, unite us, as they bring like-minded people together.

Note: Friday night and Saturday’s screenings are sold out. Tickets can be purchased here for Sunday, January 14, 3 pm matinee, to be followed by a live podcast with City Kitty.

And running concurrently with the movie’s East Coast showing will be an art exhibit at Brooklyn Art Haus curated by SilverTunaStudios.

Note: This guest post was submitted by Kristy Calabro and edited for brevity by Lois Stavsky; all photos courtesy Kristy and Sticker Movie.

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Back with our documentation of ILLicit Creatives claiming space on the streets of NYC, this post focuses on the fourth in our series of Queens markings. Pictured above is Ecal — followed by several more images of unsanctioned graffiti captured in Queens public spaces.

The ubiquitous Quasar aka Qzar

Lucy and the prolific MQ

Zoot, KYS

Zerz, OTL and Panic, SB

York and Eve, GI

Angr, LNE

Note: Pushing It Forward, a limited edition zine featuring artworks fashioned by “illicit creatives,” — edited by Lois Stavsky and designed by Lord K2 — is now available at So Books in Tokyo, Japan.

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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In addition to hosting dozens of intriguing wheatpastes and stickers, Freeman Alley is also home to several rotating beguiling murals — many fashioned by artists who are briefly visiting NYC. The geometric image pictured above was painted by French-Peruvian artist Hydrane. Several more murals, captured on my recent visit to this iconic location, follow:

Venezuelan artist Uloang paints the Mexican fictional character El Chavo

NYC-based Michael Alan Alien 

London-based Fat Cap Sprays

Texas-based Floyd Mendoza 

Brooklyn-based Kosuke James

NYC-based Ratchi

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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On my most recent visit to this year’s Grandscale Mural Project in East Harlem, I came upon dozens of more alluring murals that have recently surfaced. The mural featured above was painted by Mas Paz and Guache, two Colombia-born multidisciplinary artists. Several more images representative of the extraordinary range of mural art gracing East Harlem in the vicinity of 125th Street follow:

New Jersey native Diego Molina

Local artist DaQuane Cherry 

 Queens native Al Ruiz 

Local artist Marthalicia Matarrita

Bronx native  Jose Aurelio Baez

Bronx-based Chelsea Garcia and Jio assess their work in progress

Photos; Lois Stavsky

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Showcasing some of my favorite artists, along with others who are new to me, First Street Green Art Park — located where  Manhattan’s Lower East Side meets the East Village — is one of our city’s treasures. The image featured above was fashioned by Carson DeYoung aka Deps One, a former Brooklynite now based in Tucson, Arizona. Several more images that have surfaced in the past few months at First Street Green Art Park follow:

NYC-based Cram Concepts, Ratchi and Outer Source — segment from a huge collaborative production

Brooklyn-based Jeff Henriquez 

Mexico City-based Trasheer

Mexico City-based Nerik Martinez aka Ramsteko

Ezra Cumbo aka Rah Artz

The prolific OptimoNYC  for Dopey podcast

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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The Grandscale Mural Project is once again transforming the streets of East Harlem into an oasis of beauty and intrigue. While visiting this past Sunday, I came upon dozens of completed walls, along with dozens of works in progress representing a wide range of styles and themes. Featured above is the lovely Colombia-born, East Harlem-based artist Gia Gutierrez — standing to the right of her newly-completed mural. Several more images captured this past Sunday follow:

South Bronx-raised, Puerto Rican artist Olga Correa

East Harlem-based, Stockholm-born artist Scratch

New York-based, Chilean artist Cekis

NYC-based Caryn Cast diligently at work on her portrait of the legendary singer, songwriter & guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe

NYC-born and based artist Cram Concepts

NYC-based, New Jersey-bred illustrator Anna Lustberg

BC1 and Al Ruiz collaborative mural featuring the late, legendary Tito Puente

Note: Keep posted to Street Art NYC Threads for more images from this year’s Grandscale Mural Project curated by Uptown Grand Central.

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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