Calicho Arevalo

Now in its sixth year, Underhill Walls — under the curatorial direction of Jeff Beler — increasingly engages a diverse range of local artists, reflecting the soul and spirit of its neighboring Prospect Heights blocks. Currently on view is a series of tantalizing murals on the theme “Movie Night.”

Pictured above is Zero Productivity‘s rendition of The Birds to the left of Subway Doodle‘s take on The Rocky Horror Show — with curator Jeff Beler posed between them.  What follows are a few more murals on the theme:

Venezuelan cartoonist Jorge Torrealba introduces “Movie Night”

Muralist and designer Majo Barajas aka Majo San, Pet Sematary

Muralist and illustrator Miki Mu, The Italian Stallion

Local artist ohh.henny.ohhhh paints his first mural, Space Jam

     NYC-born, Oakland-based Nite Owl, The Birdman of Alcatraz

Local artist Slim Villain at work, Terminator 2

Multidisciplinary artist Sage Gallon, Mahogany 

Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo, Godzilla

Underhill Walls is located at the corner of St. Johns Pl and Underhill Ave.

Photos: Lois Stavsky

{ 0 comments }

The following guest post was written by Juyoun Han, an attorney at Eisenberg & Baum, LLP

According to the New York Times, Black Lives Matter protests may have been the largest movement in U.S. history, and the most vigilant of these protests remain on the walls, corners, and surfaces of streets that we walk by every day. In cities across the country — Seattle, Salt Lake City, Chicago, New York City — artists banded together to use their creativity as a powerful visual advocacy against racial injustice. World-renowned artist Banksy, for example, created a painting that depicts a candle at a memorial starting a small flame at the corner of a U.S. flag. Banksy expressed his support for the BLM movement in an Instagram post, saying “people of colour are being failed by the system.”

Unfortunately, these murals are short-lived, either because they are immediately tagged or destroyed by dissenters who blithely deny America’s problem of racism. Artists who had transformed boarded-up businesses into powerful BLM art witnessed their art getting thrown out by storeowners. Such defacement of protest art is unfortunately a recurring violation. In 2014, after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, a renowned Portland-based artist, Ashley Montague, painted a mural of late Brown entitled “Status Quo.” Unfortunately, the mural was tagged and painted over.

Now, here’s the good news: the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (“VARA Law”) may be the key to protecting and preserving these artworks. Under this law, the creators of 5Pointz recently cemented a victory after declination of review by the U.S. Supreme Court, obtaining a $6.75 million award against a luxury condo developer who destroyed what was previously considered to be “the world’s premier graffiti mecca.” The lawsuit sets a powerful precedent that may be relied upon to protect BLM murals.

Q&A about VARA Law for street artists:

My artwork was completely destroyed. Can it be protected under VARA?

Yes. VARA law protects artworks from being destroyed, but you will need to prove that the work gained “recognized stature.” This means that your work must have gained recognition by the art community and the public. There are many ways to meet this “recognized stature” standard. For example, you can show that your artwork garnered social media attention and other press coverage, that other members of the art community vouched for your work, or that your work had been featured in movies or videos.

My work is not destroyed, but some people tagged it and now it is a mockery. Does the law protect me?

Yes. VARA protects against modification, distortion, or mutilation of artworks that harms an artist’s reputation. For example, removing and making changes to sculptures made to be installed for a certain space, or partially painting over an original mural and allowing the public to see the distorted art form can harm the original artist’s esteem and reputation in the community. Even an emerging artist can show that the artist’s reputation has been harmed on a case-by-case basis. After all, part of the goal of VARA law is to protect works of lesser known artists as well as artists who have already gained fame

What if multiple artists collaborated on a single piece of artwork?

VARA may protect artwork even if it was created by multiple artists as a collaboration piece; not every artist involved needs to be famous. Even an artwork led by an artist joined by a community of teenage students can be protected under VARA.

If I am hired to install the art, can I still gain protection under VARA?

No. If you were hired to install a piece of art, then the “work-for-hire” exception applies and VARA will not protect your artwork.

What kind of protection would I gain under VARA?

If your artwork has already been destroyed, you can bring a legal action for compensation. If you have knowledge that your work may be destroyed in the future, you can prevent that from happening by requesting a legal injunction. You are also entitled to a 90-day notice before your work is removed.

What kinds of murals will VARA NOT protect?

If you signed a document or “waiver” of your VARA rights, then you cannot try to preserve your work. If you created an artwork on a property without permission or authorization from the property owner, this is a grey area—there is at least one legal case that says VARA law will not protect unauthorized artworks. However, if the artwork is removable (for example, on a board or a canvas) from the wall of the building, it might be protected even if not authorized.

If your artwork was not destroyed but modified due to normal wear and tear, or due to weather or climate change, it can be more difficult to ask for legal recovery. Also, the following forms of art are excluded from VARA protection: works made for hire, posters, maps, globes or charts, technical drawings, diagrams, models, applied art, motion pictures, books and other publications, electronic publications, merchandising items or advertising, promotional, descriptive, covering, packaging material or container; nor does VARA  cover any work not subject to general copyright protection.

Does it matter which state I live in?

No. VARA law is federal law, so it applies no matter which state you live in. However, there are state laws that are similar to VARA, which may give you additional legal protection.

What can artists do to protect their art?

Authorization – gaining authorization, preferably in writing, from the owner of the mural’s site to create your artwork will be advantageous in a legal action.

Recognition – the more the artist can show recognition (e.g. social media, press coverage, public and art community’s acclaim) the more effective it would be to prevent or recover compensation from those who destroyed the work.

Timely Response – if you are aware of threats to destroy or mutilate your artwork, respond in a timely manner. Contacting lawyers can help prevent the damage, facilitate negotiations, and if necessary, bring legal actions.

About the author: Juyoun Han, is a lawyer at Eisenberg & Baum LLP based in NYC. Juyoun’s practice includes Art Law, Artificial Intelligence Fairness & Data Privacy, and Disability Rights litigation. She was involved in the 5Pointz litigation and thanks her clients who have opened her eyes to
the world of art.

Note: The views expressed on this post are those of the individual author writing in her individual capacities only – not of any employers or affiliates.

Street art protest images featured here were selected and photographed by Lois Stavsky 

Ori Carino on the Lower East Side

Calicho Arevalo in Gowanus

july4art on the Bowery

Souls NYC in the Bronx, south of West Farms

5 & 6  Amir Diop in Soho and Noho

Unidentified artist in Gowanus

{ 0 comments }

Celebrating five years of Underhill Walls — the model community art project spearheaded and curated by Jeff Beler — “What’s Your Sign?” recently surfaced at the corner of Underhill Avenue and Saint Johns Place.  Featured above is Jeff Beler — standing to the left of his mural, adjacent to BLJ ‘s . Several more images from “What’s Your Sign?” follow:

North Carolina / NYC-based BLJ creates a passionate, assertive Aries, the ram — the first astrological sign in the Zodiac

Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo‘s Sagittarius and Savior Elmundo‘s Scorpio

Paulie Nassar designs an alluring Gemini

Visual artist and producer Megan Watters honors Ruth Bader Ginsburg with an elegantly balanced Libra

Brooklyn-based Justin Winslow fashions a mesmerizingly playful Aquarius

And Brooklyn-based Subway Doodle adds a bit of playful sarcasm

Photos of images by Lois Stavsky

{ 0 comments }

While revisiting Underhill Walls in Prospect Park, Brooklyn this past week, I was greeted by several delightfully intriguing murals that I hadn’t captured on my earlier visit in May. The image featured above was fashioned by Queens-native Jeff Rose, Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo, and Brooklyn-based krassness. Several more artworks from this model community arts-based project, curated and managed by Jeff Beler, follow:

Local artist Justin Winslow’s magical world

Gowanus-based Dylan Bauver‘s geometric Cosmos

 Dylon Thomas Burns offers a glimpse of heaven

Manhattan-based  Marivel Mejia pays homage to our health care workers

Stem YNN and Aloe Adventures take on — in comic book-style — our surreal times as we are “dodgin’ more than corona”

Underhill Walls is located at the corner of St. Johns Place and Underhill Avenue in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

Photo credits: 1 -4 & 6, Lois Stavsky and 5 Sara Ching Mozeson

{ 0 comments }

When I returned to Soho earlier this week, I was thrilled to discover several pieces — including a few collaborations — new to me. The image featured above, “Our Nation’s Claim to Justice,” was fashioned by Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo and Queens-native Jeff Rose. Several more artworks that have recently surfaced on Soho’s boarded-up stores follow:

Multidisciplinary artists Alice Mackay (center) and Marco Villard 

The legendary NYC writer/artist Duel RIS 

Venezuelan artist Alberto Barreto and multimedia artist AV

Ukrainian-born, NYC-based multidisciplinary artist Si Golraine at work

Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist Konstance Patton

Amir Diop, Brendan T Mcnally and Light Noise collaborate on mural in memory of graffiti writer Michael Stewart who died at the hands of the NYPD in  1983

To be continued next week!

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4 – 7 Lois Stavsky; 3 Sara Ching Mozeson

{ 0 comments }

A diverse range of artists — from self-taught to those with advanced degrees in Fine Art — have been busy these past few weeks in Soho, transforming the Lower Manhattan neighborhood into an open-air museum.  Although dozens of artworks on boards have already vanished as stores begin to open, others continue to surface. The works above were fashioned by — from left to right — Tyler Ives, Calicho Arevalo, and Loren Crea Abbate. Several more images in this ongoing series follow:

Multimedia artist and environmentalist Luca Babini aka Acool55 to the left of Erin Ko‘s portrait of  the late noted African-American writer James Baldwin

Savior Elmundo, “Enough Is Enough,” to the left of Lady JDay’s portrait of Breonna Taylor

Lower East Side-based multidisciplinary artist Michael Rimbaud does the late noted poet Gil Scott-Heron with a play on his famed poem “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

Queens-native Jeff Rose King in collaboration with Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo

Lower Manhattan-based creative agency Vault49

Brooklyn-based artist/calligrapher Max Gibbons

To be continued next week!

Photos: Lois Stavsky

{ 0 comments }

On my first day in more than two months out of Manhattan, I was delighted to visit Underhill Walls in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Curated and managed by Jeff Beler — with safe guidelines practicing social distance —  it is NYC’s first community-based street art project to emerge as the city begins to take steps to open. The image featured above was fashioned by the wonderfully talented Subway Doodle. Several more images I captured yesterday — as the project that began last week continues — follow:

Jason Naylor bringing brightly-hued love

 Zukie’s pepperoni pizza comes to life!

Visual artists and poets Android Oi and My Life in Yellow collaborate

Visual artist and producer Megan Watters at work to the left of  Paolo Tolentino‘s portrait of the late Shirley Chisholm

Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo‘s gift of love

Muralist and designer Majo B gift of beauty

Multidisciplinary visionary Shamanic artist Myztico Campo posing next to his work in progress

Keep posted to the Street Art NYC Instagram for more images from this ongoing project

Photos by Lois Stavsky — with special thanks to Yonkers-based multidisciplinary artist Michael Cuomo for getting me out of Manhattan!

{ 0 comments }