Bisco Smith


Back in NYC, in the place he calls “home,” Bisco Smith — the first artist in residency at Okay Space — has been busy!  At work during one of the most tumultuous weeks in the history of our country, the artist proposed that creating his newest body of work, MANIFEST, helped “center” him, as he strives to find “the goodness amidst the chaos.”  This past Friday, MANIFEST was unveiled at Okay Space at 281 North 7th Street.  Here are several images captured shortly before it officially opened to the public:

Bisco Smith adding info to Methods, serigraph on paper, edition of 111


 Manifest Moments #9, acrylic & spray paint on canvas


Manifest Moments, the series — each, 18 x 18 — acrylic & spray paint on canvas


Gratitude for all things past, service for all things present, responsibility for all things future


 And as seen at night from the outside, shortly before it opened


Okay Space is open Monday through Friday, 11-6, and on Saturday 12-5.  For further info, you can contact the space at 929-250-2388.

Photos by Lois Stavsky



From the plaintive to the playful, the artworks on exhibit in From the West Coast at 212 Arts intrigue. While visiting last week, I had the opportunity to speak to gallerist Mark Leader, who curated the exhibit:

Many of these artists are new to me. Just what is going on here?

This exhibit is a survey of various West Coast artists — largely from LA, San Francisco, Santa Monica and New Mexico.


There is certainly quite a diverse range of styles represented here. What spurred you to bring these artists to NYC?

It was an opportunity to introduce a brand new visual language to others. My sense is that the West Coast sensibility is quite different from ours.


How did you first discover these artists?

Largely through Instagram. And I had worked with some of them before.


Were there any particular challenges in making this happen?

Just the logistics of transporting the art from the West Coast to here in the East Village.


How have folks responded to the exhibit?

They’ve responded positively with lots of curiosity!


How can folks see the exhibit?

As there has been a pique of interest in the exhibit since these works were initially showcased, there will be a second launch this Thursday, April 21, beginning at 6 pm.


And what’s next for 212 Arts?

Opening May 6 is Round Trip, Emilio Ramos‘s first solo exhibit.

Interview and photos 1, 2, 4-6 Lois Stavsky


1. Free Humanity

2. Eddie Colla

3. Mike Giant

4. Sket One — on platform designed by Tracy 168, with Marc Leader on right

5. Max Neutra

6. Bisco 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 here for Android devices.

en-play-badge 2


gallery nine5 will host a block party this evening — from 6-8pm — to celebrate the transformation of its gallery walls into a vibrant, magical public sphere. Here are a few recently captured images:

Vor138‘s completed piece with TATS CRU on the left and Bisco Smith to the right

"group ink"



Shiro at work

"Shiro at Gallery nine5"

And her completed piece


Ket — who has been transforming his original piece with political references and names of victims of violence and war; it’s certain to look different this evening from the close-up captured here!

"Alan Ket"

And the always-wonderful Rubin415 at work on Monday


gallery nine5 is located at 24 Spring Street, and if you can’t make it this evening, you can check out the site-specific exhibit through July 30.


Photos: 1-4 by Dani Reyes Mozeson; 5-6 by Lois Stavsky



The transformation of SoHo-based gallery nine5’s walls from “a private space into a public sphere” has begun with expressive murals — from the playful to the political —  by TATS CRU, Ket and Bisco Smith.  Here’s a sampling of what’s been happening:

TATS CRU‘s BG183 at work to the right of Bio and Nicer



"Tats Cru"

Ket installs dozens of newspaper articles illustrating human sufferings, largely the result of wars


And paints over them 


With quote from historian and social activist Howard Zinn


And Bisco Smith — in from the West Coast — graces the wall with his distinct aesthetic 

"Bisco Smith"

"Bisco Smith"

The public is invited to observe, explore and join the conversation as Vor138, Shiro and Rubin415 contribute to the further transitory makeover of gallery nine5. Keep posted to StreetArtNYC for updates and, if you are in town, be sure to check out the opening reception on July 17, 6-8pm. gallery nine5 is located at 24 Spring Street in SoHo.

Action photos by Dani Reyes Mozeson; others by Lois Stavsky


Speaking with Bisco Smith

August 25, 2013

Currently based in both LA and NYC, Bisco Smith is celebrated for his graffiti on walls, as well as for his audio and visual work within hip-hop culture.  WORLD UPSIDE DOWN, a recent collection of this talented artist’s works, is on view at Low Brow Artique, 143 Central Avenue in Bushwick, through September 7th.  We spoke with Bisco soon after his hugely successful opening:


When and why did you start getting up? 

I was about 12 or 13 years old when I started writing.

Any particular inspirations at the time?

I grew up skateboarding, and we were all into writing. Just about everyone in my school had a black book. We also avidly followed Chino’s Graf Flix section in the Source. This was sometime in the mid-90’s.

What was your preferred surface – back then? 

Abandoned buildings. I grew up spending day after day inside of a huge dead factory. We could paint anything and everything in there.

Any early graffiti memories that stand out?

The first time I got taken down to the train tracks, a party got broken up by the police and on our escape, we ended up under a bridge filled with burners.

Bisco Smith

What is the riskiest thing you ever did? 

Train tunnels and some less-than-solid rooftops. I remember getting caught between two trains, coming on opposite sides, while I was standing between two third rails. That experience will make you appreciate life all over again.

Why were you willing to take that risk?

I ask myself the same question now.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art these days?

Just about all of it. Both visual arts and music.

Do you have a day job? What is the main source of your income these days?

I work as a graphic designer and I mentor kids.  I have a strong moral compass, and just about 98% of the work that I do is for the right cause. I’m involved with various community-based organizations including ARTS By the People, based in New York and New Jersey.

Bisco Smith

Have you any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

Graffiti has a code, street rules, that “street art” doesn’t have – and that’s one of the reasons for the tensions between the two. But I don’t think there’s enough respect on either side.

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

I think it’s great when people can make a living doing what they love – and also impact others.

Would you rather work alone or collaborate with others? 

When I’m working on walls, I prefer to collaborate.  More often than not, I paint with my friends and crew mates: Leias, Bishop203 or Meres

Is there anyone in particular with whom you would like to collaborate? 

Jackson Pollock – if he were alive.

Any favorite graff artists?

Ces. Since Videograf 8 dropped, that whole 90’s era in the Bronx really was my favorite.

Bisco, Meres and Bishop203

Do you have a formal art education?  

Yes. I studied communication design at Pratt.

Was it worthwhile?

Very much so. It taught me a trade. There’s work in graphic design.

How do you feel about the role of the Internet in all this? 

Both positive and negative. I love the connections and opportunities, but miss when style was localized

What inspires you these days?

Lately, I have been heavy on instagram and tumblr checking out other artists, working artists.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Hip-hop culture for sure.

Bisco and Leias

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

I let it flow.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?  

For the most part, but in the end — for me  — it’s more about the day and the moment. The end result is a bonus.

How has your work evolved through the years?

Although I continue to work on the streets, I no longer need its framework to create. I think my artwork is more focused these days – especially if I know it’s headed to a gallery.

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

Balance out the mundane, as well as make people think.

What about the role of the photographer? The blogger?

It is important to document what’s out there and happening. I think its essential to any movement.

Bisco Smith

Any thoughts about sanctioned vs. unsanctioned art?

I like them both. I think both are needed and both allow for their own outcomes and impacts.

The Europeans seem to appreciate and respect graffiti far more than we do here in the States? Any thoughts about that?

If it doesn’t make money here, society seems to not appreciate it.

What’s ahead?

More visual explorations, socially engaged work, and gallery exhibits.

Interview by Lois Stavsky. Photos: 1. Bisco on exterior of Low Brow Artique, photo by Lois Stavsky; 2. & 3. Bisco in WORLD UPSIDE DOWN, photos courtesy of the artist; 4. Bisco, Meres, Bishop203 & Leias at 5Pointz, photo by Lois Stavsky; 5. Bisco & Leias on exterior of Low Brow Artique, photo by Tara Murray and 6. Bisco in Watts, photo courtesy of the artist