Albertus Joseph

Active on both the streets and in his studio, Will Power fashions stylishly seductive images, often fusing elements of  graffiti, street art and fine art. His talents can now be viewed not only on the streets of his native New Jersey and throughout NYC, but in  the group exhibition, On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey, that continues through February 27 at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey. While selecting studio works to feature in the exhibition, I had the opportunity to interview Will.

When and where did you first get up?

I first got up in 1983. And about a year later I did my first character, a devil. In 1985, I hit the White Castle on Journal Square. No one had ever hit that wall before. I was 14 at the time.

Had you any preferred surface back then?

Any place visible.

Did anyone or anything in particular inspire you at the time?

The movie Style Wars. It came out in 1983.

Do any early graffiti-related memories come to mind?

Racking up cans and bombing the bathrooms in Dickinson High School. The entire building was covered with graffiti.

Were you ever arrested?

Never! I knew what I was doing. I knew when and where to do it.

Did you belong to any crews back then?

A few. TFK (The Fresh Kingdom); KOC (Kings of Cremation) and MOB (Masters of Bombing).

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I’d rather work alone. Often when I collaborate, I feel as though I’m carrying the other person. The exception is Albertus Joseph. We began collaborating in 2018, and we’ve developed our distinct aesthetic that we call “Gritty City Styles.”

Is there anyone, in particular, with whom you’d like to collaborate?

The Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo. I’d like to paint graffiti-style over his Sistine Chapel.

Have you any thoughts about the street art/graffiti divide? You certainly bridge the two.

The line is getting thinner and thinner. The problem is that street artists and graffiti writers don’t really get to talk to each other. The writers feel that the street artists are doing it for the money. But our motivation is really the same. We love what we do, and we have fun doing it!

What about the street art scene here in New Jersey? Any thoughts about it?

We need a “scene!” There are not enough legal walls and it’s all too cliquish. And I’d like to see the state do more to promote local artists.

Street artists are increasingly collaborating with the corporate world. Have you any feelings about that partnership?

That depends on the circumstances, the particular product and the way it’s being represented.

And how do you feel about the movement of graffiti and street art into galleries and museums? 

I feel good about it. Graffiti and street art should be moving into galleries and museums. It’s the logical progression.

How would you describe your ideal working environment?

It’s in my home. I find a space to paint in my house, and it becomes my studio and my sanctuary.

Have you a formal art education?

No. I’m self-taught. Graffiti was my teacher.

What inspires you these days?

My main sources of inspiration are: hip-hop, iconography, God and the Bible.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

I lived with my mother’s family in Thailand for three years from about 4-7. I vividly remember the detailed, decorative repetitive patterns and the classic spiritual beauty of the Buddhist temples. And I spent six months with my stepfather’s family in Egypt after I graduated from high school. There was gold everywhere! That’s what stands out. But the hip-hop culture has always been my main influence.

Is there a central theme that ties your work together?

Hip-hop and spirituality.

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

Mostly, I don’t. But for commissions, I sometimes have to.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece? And how do you know when it’s finished?

I am satisfied with it. I know it’s finished when it feels balanced.

How important are other’s reactions to you?

On my studio work, they’re not important. But when I paint outside, it’s for the people. And then it matters.

How has your work evolved through the years?

It began with tagging and bombing the streets, and now it’s working on canvas fusing elements of graffiti, urban art and fine art.

How has the work you’ve done on the streets impacted your studio work?

The media I use are largely the same ones I use on the streets: spray paint, wheatpastes, stencils and charcoal. But I’ve also begun working more and more with oil paint and oil sticks in the studio.

How has your studio work evolved in the past several years?

I’m definitely taking more chances, and my tones are often more subtle. And working with oil paint adds a classical element to it.

How long do you generally spend on a studio piece? On a street art work?

I spend, on the average, of about three months on a studio piece, and anywhere from 4-6 hours on a work on the streets.

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

My role is to share my God-given talents with others.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

I’d have to say all of it, because even at my day job – my main source of income – I paint in my head.

Note: Will Power‘s work remains on view through February 27 at the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ and for the next several weeks, you may even find him collaborating with the legendary Al Diaz at First Street Green Art Park.

Interview by Lois Stavsky

Photos feature Will Power‘s studio and street art in various indoor and outdoor venues. Images 3 & 8 in collaboration with fellow Ex-Vandals member, Albertus Joseph

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Under the curatorial direction of Will Power, over two dozen artists — representing a diverse range of cultures, backgrounds and aesthetic styles — have transformed First Street Green Art Park into a mecca of socially and politically conscious mural art.

The image featured above — depicting the late George Floyd — is the work of the hugely talented artist and curator Will Power. Several more images captured at First Street Green Art Park follow:

Painter and muralist Albertus Joseph depicts Sitting Bull

And Albertus Joseph with Will Powercaptured by photogtapher Chris Vanberkim aka Berky

Brooklyn-based Bianca Romero pays tribute to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

And Bianca Romero — captured at work by Berky

Phetus88 playfully brings a serious message to us all

La Femme Cheri and OG Millie — captured at work this past Sunday by photographer Ana Candelaria

The impetus behind this project, states Will, is to encourage people to get out there and vote. And in collaboration with Anthony Bowman (pictured below), a POP UP GET OUT THE VOTE / RETAIL STORE has been set up — adjacent to First Street Green Art Park — on 35 E 1st Street.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4, 6  & 8 Lois Stavsky; 3 & 5 Berky and 7 Ana Candelaria

Note: Be sure to check out Part II of this post on Thursday.

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

After two decades of attending classes at Seward Park High School — when I wasn’t hanging out in the parking lot! — I was back. I never thought I would be. This time, though, it was to hang on the rooftop with some of my favorite graffiti and street artists. Featured above is  IMOK (If Mother Only Knew) Crew member Cycle at work. Several more works that I captured this past Saturday follow:

The masterly Queen Andrea

The legendary Part One

  Veteran graffiti writer Dez aka the wildly popular DJ Kay Slay — in the early stages 

Ex-Vandals Will Power and Albertus Joseph, tribute piece to WBO Featherweight Champion, Amanda Serrano

French artist and DJ Jaek El Diablo

The masterful Mast

Photos by Lower East Side-based photographer Ana Candelaria

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Curated by Bianca Romero, the new Lombardy Walls is a delightful addition to East Williamsburg’s visual landscape, bringing color and charisma to what was once a banal North Brooklyn block. The huge mural featured above was painted by Brooklyn-based Bianca Romero in what has become her distinctly infectious signature style. What follows are several more artworks that surfaced this summer for the first edition of Lombardy Walls.

Brooklyn-based Dain on door

Street art veteran and Robots Will Kill founder Chris RWK

Harlem-based Marthalicia Matarrita

Chicago-based Czr Prz

  Filipino artist Jappy Lemon, currently based in NYC, does Spiderman

Will Power and Albertus Joseph do OlDirty Bastard

Lombardy Walls is located at Lombardy Street and Porter Avenue.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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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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I stopped by HG Contemporary‘s impressive new gallery space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn yesterday as several artists were busy at work preparing for tonight’s official launch.

After checking it out, I had the opportunity to speak with Sean Sullivan who, along with Harris Lobel, has curated the gallery’s opening exhibit:

This space is ideal, and the artwork looks wonderful! How did the opportunity come your way to curate this exhibit for HG Contemporary‘s grand opening here in Williamsburg?

Last month, Philippe Hoerle-Guggenheim, the founder of HG Contemporary in Chelsea, approached me and asked me if I would be interested in curating an exhibit along the lines of First City, the one I’d curated awhile back in Long Island.  I saw it as a great opportunity to give artists I admire a chance to exhibit alongside the fine artists who generally show at HG Contemporary.

How did you decide which artists to include?

That was difficult, as I would have liked to include many more. I chose artists with whom I’ve successfully worked with in the past, along with five others whose artwork I’ve admired, but with whom I’ve never worked. The final selection was a joint decision between me and Harris Lobel, who was involved in curating, along with me, the First City project. We were interested in showcasing the works of artists whom we believe deserve wide exposure.

I’m familiar with several of the artists — especially those whose work I’ve seen on the streets. Several, though, are new to me. Who are the artists that you both agreed to include in this grand opening?

Our final selection included: Albertus JosephZimer, Gumshoe, Jenna Krypell, Jason AckermanFridge, Jenna Morello, OG Millie and Reso 914.

There’s quite a diverse range of styles here. Had you a specific theme in mind?

We were interested in representing the various elements associated with street art and graffiti.  And so we sought a mix of images, words, letter technique, characters, color and flow.

What were some of the challenges you faced in seeing this through?

As an artist who doesn’t like taking directions, I wasn’t all that comfortable giving directions to others. But it was something that I had to do. And it was difficult asking artists to put a halt to all that they were doing for two to three day, so that they could devote themselves for hours on end to this project.

I’m certain that many artists who worked with you in the past were disappointed that they weren’t included in such a significant exhibit.

Definitely! I was getting too many nasty direct messages. Dealing with that was another huge challenge. Of course, I would have loved to include more artists, and I do hope to include many others in future exhibits that I look forward to curating in this space.

In addition to the works painted directly onto the walls here, what else can visitors to the gallery expect to see?

All of the artists who are partipating will also exhibit works on canvas that are for sale. And in addition to the artists that Harris and I have brought in, HG Contemporary will be presenting a special installation by Franz Klainsek and works by Tim Bengel and Carl McCrow.

And how can folks who can’t make it to the official grand opening see the exhibit?

The gallery is conveniently located at 66 North 3rd Street off Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn .All are invited to visit the gallery during its regular opening hours.

Images

  1. Albertus Joseph
  2. Layer Cake
  3. Zimer
  4. Gumshoe
  5. Jenna Krypell
  6. Jason Ackerman & Fridge
  7. Jenna Morello
  8. OG Milli
  9. Reso 914

Interview and photos by Lois Stavsky

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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This is the 14th in a series of occasional posts featuring the range of faces that have surfaced in NYC open spaces. The image featured above was painted by Fumero in Astoria, Queens for the Welling Court Mural Project, curated by Ad Hoc Art. Several more follow:

Danielle Mastrion  for Underhill Walls in Prospect Heights, curated by Jeff Beler

Nile Onyx for Underhill Walls in Prospect Heights, curated by Jeff Beler

Indie 184 on the Ridge Wall on the Lower East Side, curated by 212 Arts

Funqest for Underhill Walls in Prospect Heights, curated by Jeff Beler

Albertus Joseph for Underhill Walls in Prospect Heights, curated by Jeff Beler

Anthony Lister with the L.I.S.A Project NYC in Lower Manhattan

Photo credits: 1 Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad;  2 -7 Lois Stavsky

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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To the delight of us graffiti lovers, First Street Green Park has been showcasing artwork by a range of first rate, often legendary, graffiti writers and muralists. The image featured above was painted by Andre Trenier  and Zaone. What follows are several more murals that surfaced at last month’s Summer Classics Block Party hosted by DJNY Art:

Albertus Joseph and Jaylo YNN, tribute to the late Sean Price

Jeff Henriquez at work on tribute mural to the late Guru of Gang Starr

Wore IBM does Rakim

Graff masters T Kid and Doves at work

T Kid‘s completed piece

Completed Doves piece

And on Friday — September 8th — DJNY Art will be hosting “Welcome To The Lab,” a Pop Up event for Nike and Sneaker Lab at Van Der Plas Gallery, 156 Orchard Street on the LES.

Photos: 1, 2, 4, 6 & 7 Lois Stavsky; 3 & 5 courtesy Kate Storch

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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The intersection of Underhill Avenue and St Johns Place was the place to be these past two weekends. Under the curatorial direction of Frankie Velez and Jeff Beler, over a dozen artists shared their talents, while delighting and engaging hundreds of passersby. The mural pictured above is the work of MADE.  Here are several more:

Another Biggie, this one by SacSix, with co-curator Frankie Velez to the right

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Allison Ruiz and Vanezza Cruz at work

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Albertus Joseph at work

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 JT Liss

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Ariana Febles

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Chris RWK

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Photos by Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from Wide Walls 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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