Apostrophe NYC


While visiting Ryan Bock‘s solo exhibit at Apostrophe NYC‘s Mana Contemporary studio space last month, I had the opportunity to speak to Ki Smith who — together with his brother Sei —  founded Apostrophe NYC  back in 2012. For the past several months Base 12, Apostrophe NYC‘s 12 emerging artists, have been working in a 8000-square-foot space through a one-year residency program at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City.

This is such an ideal space. How did this residency come your way?

Mana actually reached out to us after seeing the wide press coverage we received in response to our guerrilla-style pop-up exhibits.

Your pop-up shows were certainly unconventional! It’s not surprising that they — particularly your intervention at the Whitney Museum — generated so much media attention. It was your pop-up exhibits at the Kosciuszko Street stop on the J Line, in fact, that initially attracted my attention. When I first met you, you were based in Bushwick. 

Yes. But as a result of the opportunity that Mana offered us, several of us have since moved to Jersey City.  And we love it here! Mana is a very unique place and is located in a great area that’s just a short walk from Little India and all its great restaurants.


With your distinct styles and sensibilities, you guys all seem to work so well together. 

Since starting the Base 12 project we have all gotten to know each other quite well and I feel like every one has gained a lot of respect for each other’s work and practices. And with 12 of us working together to navigate the contemporary art world, we are able to accomplish so much more than if we were working individually — 12 times as much!

Here at Mana each Base 12 artist has been publishing a book to accompany his or her exhibit. That’s quite impressive.

I feel like making books and records of exhibitions is really important and something that very few smaller galleries do for artists, so we decided that we had a good opportunity to create a new company Apostrophe NYC Books. And in classic Apostrophe style we do everything in house, from printing to binding to working with the artists to designing and hand silkscreening the covers.  Making books is another great way to share art, and because of the especially quick turnaround on the shows we are currently doing, it’s also a great way to memorialize shows that people might miss the opportunity to visit.

What’s ahead?

The following solo exhibits are scheduled: Charlie Hudson on July 8th; Kolter Hodgson on July 22nd; Alana Dee Haynes on August 5th; Morell Cutler on August 19th; Julia Powers on September 2nd; Caslon Bevington on September 16th and James Reyes on September 30th. And next Saturday night, July 15th, is the opening of Base 12: Little Big Show, a group exhibit that critiques assumptions of virtual versus “real” representation with two allied narratives in sequential galleries: the first in an exhibition of miniature digital reproductions, the second in a series of original artworks.

That sounds very exciting! I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for you all!

Note: Tonight is the opening of  Charlie Hudson‘s solo exhibit.


1 Ryan Bock artwork — with Apostrophe NYC co-founder Ki Smith

2  Julia Powers

3  Kolter Hodgson

4  James Reyes

5  Charlie Hudson

Photos and interview by Lois Stavsky


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A collaborative hub for artists, the Mana BSMT occupies the entire lower level of Mana Contemporary‘s Jersey City headquarters. After completing their residency there, Apostrophe NYC’s Base 12 artists presented their artworks in a series of installations and performances this past Saturday evening. The image pictured above was fashioned by Ryan Bock, whose talents have also made their way onto walls on the Lower East Side and Bushwhick. Here are several more images we captured:

Also by Ryan BockSacrificial Shanking


Kolter Hodgson, Cryami, close-up


James Reyes

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James Rubio with his new Power of Prayer paintings


The Real Love Child, close-up


Sei Smith, Yellow and Blue — as observed by Houda Lazrak — with artist as masseur


Alana Dee Haynes, Photo Booth — with fashions designed by the artist


Photo credits: 1-7 Lois Stavsky and 8 Houda Lazrak

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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Earlier this year we met up with the wonderfully talented and intrepid Apostrophe founders and curators — Sei and Ki Smith. Since, they’ve successfully hosted guerrilla pop-ups at The Whitney Museum  of American Art — from which they’ve been banned for life — and at MoMA PS1. This past Friday we attended Apostrophe‘s  Base 12 Subway Show, a pop-up exhibit at the Kosciuszko Street stop on the J Line featuring works from Apostrophe‘s 12 artists. And what fun it was!



The Love Child


Julia Powers


James Reyes


Sei Smith, curator and recently featured, along with his brother, in Time Out New York’s 10 NYC artists 35 and under you should know


Morell Cutler and artwork by James Rubio on right


Alana Dee Haynes


And healthy non-alcoholic beverage — provided by Costa Brava — served at artists’ reception on subway platform!


Apostrophe‘s Base 12 Project will continue throughout the year with three pop-ups in city parks, three in European galleries, one more museum pop up and then finally a project retrospective at Mana Contemporary that will exhibit all 144 paintings from the 12 pop-ups.

Photo credits: 1-7 Lois Stavsky; 8 & 9 Tara Murray; additional photos on the Street Art NYC Instagram

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

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We recently had the opportunity to meet up with Apostrophe founders and curators — Sei and Ki Smith  — and find out a bit about their plans for 2016:

Just what is Apostrophe?

Apostrophe began as a gallery and performance space in Bushwick in 2012, and it has since evolved into a series of pop-up exhibits and events. As a collective, it is designed to offer exposure to artists while sparking a creative energy that can be experienced by everyone.  Our last exhibit, Subway Show, took place at the Kosciusko Street stop on the J train.  The subway passengers, along with anyone else who came by, were treated to art, music, a comedic performance and refreshments!


What about its name, Apostrophe?

Our concept came before the name. The name was inspired by the title of Frank Zappa’s eighteenth album Apostrophe’.  It suggests an inclusive fusion of energies.

What is Apostrophe’s current mission?

The mission of our current project Base 12 is to highlight the art of twelve talented artists in a dozen diverse, unconventional settings, while making their art accessible to folks who might not otherwise see it.  When art is shown exclusively in gallery settings, its audience can be limited.


What kinds of alternative settings are you referring to?

Of the nine upcoming pop-up shows here in NYC, three will take place on subway platforms, three in museums and three in parks. They will all engage passersby in non-traditional ways. Details will  be announced the day of the event via Instagram and Facebook.

That sounds great! How did you select the artists?

Some had participated in exhibits in our former Bushwick space; others we met through friends. And some we discovered through our open call for submissions.  We’ve all gotten to know one another, and we all work well together.  Once a month we come together, and we critique each other’s artworks. We love not only the works of the artists we are showing, but their energy, as well!


Do you both have a formal art education?

We both went to art school, but neither of us finished. We grew up, though, in a family of artists and have always engaged in art-related projects here and abroad.

What’s ahead?

In addition to what will be happening here in NYC, we are planning three exhibits and events abroad: at Alan Istanbul in Turkey; at corretger5 in Barcelona, and at a gallery space — to be announced — in London.


It’s all very exciting!  Lots of luck! We will definitely keep posted to your Instagram.

Interview by Lois Stavsky with Houda Lazrak

Photo credits: 1 Lois Stavsky; 2-4 courtesy of Apostrophe; 5 Tara Murray

2  Subway Show 

3  James A Reyes, My Shorty

4  Sei Smith, Half Portrait No. 5

5  James Rubio, Black Flowers, close-up of public art work

Apostrophe’s Base 12 will also feature the works of Caslon BevingtonRyan Bock, Morell Cutler, Alana Dee Haynes, Kolter Hodgson, Charlie Hudson, The Love ChildJulia Powers and Bruno Smith

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

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