City Kitty

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

Born in Rochester, New York and currently based in Queens, City Kitty makes his presence wherever he happens to be. And each piece that he creates is distinctly intriguing. 

When did you first discover your love for art?

I’ve always loved art, and it’s always been a part of my life. I come from a very artistic family. My grandparents were both painters. They met when they were students at Pratt. My mother was a singer. I, myself, was a musician for many years, and my brother is a musician. It’s just something that has always been encouraged.

Do you have a formal art education?

Yes. My undergraduate degree is in Art Education from Nazareth College in Rochester. I worked as a substitute teacher for a bit, but I did not end up pursuing teaching as a career. I then went back to school and earned an MFA in Painting from the University of Albany, where I taught undergraduate courses in drawing for two years. I have an entirely different career in the Fine Arts. That work looks nothing like my street art.

On the streets we identify you with your City Kitty character. When was your City Kitty character born? And how did you come up with its design?

I moved to NYC in January 2010. And two months later, I met a couple of friends who were working at the Fountain Art Fair. They ran a collective that I ended up joining, and I started meeting more and more street artists. I used to do graffiti as a kid, and I saw that if I were to do street art, I’d have to make up a character.

So I thought, “All right I’ll come up with a character!” I grew up in a house with five cats. And when I lived in Bushwick, there were two gangs of cats on either side of the adjacent factory, and they were always having kittens.

Do you remember your first City Kitty piece?

Yes, the first thing I did was make a silkscreen. The style of work that I do now is similar to what I did back when I was in a band. When I moved down here, I was still making band posters. But since hanging posters here is illegal, I decided that if I’m going to get into trouble, it might as well be for my own work! That’s when I started burning silk screens. I would make all of my work by hand for the posters, but then I would print them out. I would make one cut paper piece, scan it and print multiple copies and put them out. All the other poster artists that I knew and fell in love with were silkscreen artists, so if I’m going to change gears, I’m going to want to start with silkscreen.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

There are poster artists and fine artists. Jeff Soto is kind of a crossover, as are Michael Motorcycle and Tara McPhearson. Jeff is a great painter, but he also does murals. Tara designs toys that she shows at Comic Con and she’s, also, represented by galleries. I like that balance. I do a lot of posters between working on fine art paintings.

I have seen some of your sketches on MTA service announcement posters on the New York City subway platforms.

Yes! I usually grab the posters on my way to work. I’ll draw them on my lunch break, and I’ll put them up on the way back home. And they get around — as I work in different parts of the city from the Lower East Side to Harlem. And when I have to get to New Jersey, I travel through Midtown.

When did you start putting up these MTA service announcement sketches? And why?

About a year and a half ago, I put up 113 of them. Sometimes they’re up for a few days, and other times they stay up for as long as a month. After 10 years of doing street art, I felt like I was making work for the same audience. On the subways I can reach a different audience and, perhaps, make some people smile. And I don’t sign my subway sketches. I like that feeling. And since I’ve begun doing this, I’ve only been yelled at by a couple of transit workers.

Have you ever done a wall?

Yes, I have done several. My first wall was in Ithaca at a bar where I used to play with my old band.

What about collaborations? I’ve seen your collaboration with Turtle Caps. Do any others stand out?

I‘ve collaborated with a lot of people. For years, I did a lot of work together with my street art friend Bludog. I also collaborated with Grey Egg from New Jersey, and I worked with some people from Europe.

What gives you the biggest thrill in this street art scene?

Traveling to new cities and putting my work up in them — especially since it’s such a worldwide thing. It’s a global community. I love seeing what other people are doing and I love contributing to it.

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

I’m satisfied when I finish, and then a few days later, I hate it!

How has it evolved over the years?

I use more colors and my characters have evolved over time.

Running into your pieces always makes me feel happy! And I’m looking forward to seeing more of them…especially on my way to work! What’s ahead?

I’m now working on the wall at Second Avenue and Houston. A solo exhibition of my hand-embellished MTA posters will open this Friday evening from 6-10 pm and continue through Saturday, 12-8 PM, at the Living Gallery Outpost, 246 East 4th Street.

Collaborations:

3. City Kitty with London-based  Neon Savage

5. City Kitty with Queens-based Turtle Caps

6. City Kitty with Toronto-based Urban Ninja

Interview conducted by Ana Candelaria and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1 Lois Stavsky 2-7 Ana Candelaria

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Tucked into a narrow passageway off Rivington Street east of the Bowery is the ever-evolving Freeman’s Alley. Even as the street art scene becomes increasingly corporate and commercial, Freeman’s Alley continues to remain a treasure trove of unsanctioned artwork. While some works can last for months, many are quite ephemeral. Featured above is “No Child Is Illegal” by Lmnopi. The following images were captured during these past two months.

Sara Lynne Leo, “It Wasn’t Supposed to End This Way”

 Dylan Egon, “Saint America,” with Sara Erenthal to his left

The Postman does Robert Smith of the English rock band, The Cure (Be sure to look up for this one!)

UK-based Coloquix

City Kitty and friends

10-year-old Ethan Armen with Thomas Allen

Captain Eyeliner, Who’s Dirk and friends

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4-8 Ana Candelaria; 3 Lois Stavsky

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Conceived by Dusty Rebel, Street Cuts is an ingenious street art-based digital sticker app featuring images by some of our favorite street artists. Eager to find out more about it, I posed a few questions to Dusty:

I just downloaded your newly released Street Cuts app. It’s wonderfully engaging!  Can you tell us something about the concept behind it?

I’ve always loved stickers and their role within the street art community…the way they are collected, traded, and often well-placed on the street — especially on other images like ads. It seemed only natural to bring street art to digital stickers, especially with iMessage, which allows you to drop stickers into your conversations or onto your photos. It felt like a fun way to explore “digital vandalism.” Also, I liked the idea of building a collective of street artists who weren’t being asked to simply “work for exposure,” but would be paid for their work. This Street Cuts app makes that possible.

What about its name — Street Cuts?

When we started developing packs — like Hiss’s and City Kitty’s — made from my photos of their work on the street, we began calling them Street Cuts. We soon realized it would be a cool name for the app, itself.

Who are some of the artists involved in Street Cuts?

It is a growing collective with more artists to come. But for the past few months I’ve been working closely with HISS, Abe Lincoln, Jr., City Kitty, KNOR, Belowkey and the Primate, as they developed digital sticker packs.

How can artists become involved in your project? I’m sure there are many who would like to be included?

While our collective is by invitation-only, I’m open to artists pitching their ideas for a pack to me. They can email me at dusty@streetcuts.co 

How can we find out more about it?

You can come and celebrate the launch of Street Cuts this coming Monday, October 23, from 6-10pm at Arlene’s Grocery, 95 Stanton Street on the Lower East Side. The launch party will include a scavenger hunt, give-aways, and original work by the app’s featured artists, who will also be in attendance. Be sure to download the Street Cuts app first and follow us on Instagram for Scavenger Hunt details.

It sounds great! Congratulations!

All images/photos courtesy Dusty Rebel; the second image features Abe Lincoln, Jr., HISS & KNOR; the third KNOR; the fourth the Primate and the fifth City Kitty; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; the app​ ​is produced​ ​by​ ​​Itsy​ ​Bitsy​ ​Media​​ ​and​ ​developed​ ​by​ ​​Tanooki​ ​Labs​.

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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sold-magazine-cover -URNewYork

The second issue of SOLD Magazine — the magazine by artists for artistswas formally launched last night with an Affordable Art Show at Chelsea’s Studio Kraut.  After checking out the art — that had already been installed when I came by — and perusing the magazine, I spoke to SOLD Magazine‘s publishing editor BD White.

Back in January, you, John Paul O’Grodnick and Greg Frederick first launched SOLD Magazine. How has the response to it been? What kind of feedback have you gotten?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. People were eager to become involved with it. We had a steady stream of encouraging emails, text messages, phone calls and comments. It was the incredibly enthusiastic response to SOLD Magazines first issue that has kept us going!

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How did you go about distributing the premiere issue of your magazine?

We distributed over 3,000 copies — 20 at a time — by getting them anywhere and everywhere! We hit art stores, alternative spaces, cafes, bagel and muffin shops…just about any place that was open to receiving our magazine.

This second issue looks fantastic! There are revealing interviews with UR NEW YORK, City Kitty and Appleton, along with a range of intriguing feature articles. You even have a recipe for wheat paste, this issue’s theme! How was the experience of getting SOLD Magazine out different this time around?

It was easier! Most of the kinks had already been worked out. The actual layout took far less time. And because of the buzz that the first issue generated, artists approached us, as they were eager to be featured.

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Did any unanticipated challenges come your way?

Because everyone who worked with us was so cooperative and accommodating, we were able to easily overcome any potential obstacles.

I like this venue. Even the setting for the artwork is perfect. How did Studio Kraut come your way?

Yes, it is great! The backdrop had already been painted and designed by Dripped On Productions, and Kwue Molly introduced us to this space.

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What’s ahead for SOLD Magazine?

The next issue will focus on muralists. You are in for a surprise! And keep posted for news of our upcoming podcast In the Spray Room.

How can folks get hold of the magazine if it is not easily accessible to them?

They can subscribe. That is the one way they will be sure not to miss an issue!

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Congratulations! I’m already looking forward to the next issue! I’m heading out now to read this one cover-to-cover!

Pictured above are:

1. Cover of SOLD Magazine  Issue #2 featuring UR NEW YORK, Mike Baca aka 2esae and Ski; photo by John Paul O’Grodnick

2. BD White,

3. Raphael Gonzalez, City Kitty, CB23, JCorp, JPO, BD White and Joseph Meloy

4, Ramiro Davaro

5, Choice Royce

Photos of artworks and interview by Lois Stavsky

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