Cortes

Meres

On November 19, 2013, 5 Pointz, the world’s aerosol art Mecca, was whitewashed overnight.  Its heartless destruction profoundly saddened not only the artists who called it home and those who traveled there from across the globe, but all of us who loved the creativity and camaraderie that 5Pointz represented. Currently on exhibit at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery, just a short walk from the site of the “art murder,” is W H I T E W A S H.  Curated by Marie Cecile-Flageul, it features the works of nine aerosol artists and two photographers.  Here’s a small sampling of what is on exhibit:

Another by Meres One

Meres

Christian Cortes

"Chris Cortes"

Zimad

Zimad

See TF, close-up 

"See tf"

Shiro

Shiro

Also on exhibit in W H I T E W A S H are works by AuksHans Von Rittern, Jerms, Just One, Orestes Gonzalez, Poem and Topaz.   The exhibition continues through June 8 at the Jeffrey Leder Gallery. Located at 2137 45th Road in Long Island City, the gallery is open Friday – Sunday 12-6pm and by appointment, 917 767 1734.

Photos of artworks by Lois Stavsky and City-as-School intern, Dea Sumrall

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The walls at 5Pointz continue to showcase some of the most vibrant public art in NYC — or anywhere. Here’s a sampling of some artwork that has recently surfaced:

Puerto Rican artists Rimx and Nepo

Rimx and Nepo

Queens-based Kid Lew’s tribute to Trayvon Martin

Kid Lew

Jasper — in from Queensland, Australia

Jasper

New Jersey-based graff masters Demer, Rain and Kasso

Demer, Rain and Kasso

The Parisian Nok Crew

Nok

Serrano, Mas Paz, Rimx and Cortes fashion letters “PROC” for the Artist Process, a 5Pointz annual project coordinated by Marthalicia Matarrita 

Serrano, Mas Paz, Rimx, Cortes

Close-up from huge mural by French TD4 member, Zeso

Zeso

Photos by Dani Mozeson, Tara Murray & Lois Stavsky; image of Ked Lew’s mural courtesy of the artist

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"cortes graffiti"

NYC-based painter and illustrator Christian Cortes has been increasingly exploring combinations of graffiti typography with surrealism, abstraction, South American iconography and New York City culture. 

Your extraordinary artwork has graced the walls of 5Pointz for years. Where else have you gotten up?

I’ve painted in France, Germany, Spain, Japan, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and in Puerto Rico. I’ve also gotten up in Seattle, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. And here in NYC, I’ve recently painted in the Bronx.
  
Any favorite place?
 
Probably Puerto Rico. I had many Puerto Rican friends as a teenager, and I feel a strong connection between NYC and Puerto Rico.
  
When did you first start getting up in public spaces?
 
I was in 7th grade when I began paying close attention to what was happening on the 7 train, on rooftops and along the 59th Street Bridge. Soon afterwards I was bombing those surfaces. I was most active on the streets – as Waqs A3crew– between 1990 -1995 piecing. But then I took a ten-year break.
 
Do you have a formal art education?
 
I attended the High School of Art and Design and I began fine art studies at three different colleges. But I dropped out of all of them, as I became increasingly involved in my own work.
 
 
What kind of work were you doing?
 
I was doing lots of commercial work such as record covers, backdrops for videos and steady commissions for rap groups. Among my projects was a video for Jeru the Damaja. This was ideal work for me, as I’ve always felt strongly connected to musicians. When I hit a wall with other artists, it’s like we’re all making music!
 
What got you back into painting on the streets?
 
5Pointz – for sure! Also traveling and the Internet. I share much of what I do on YouTube these days. I feel a responsibility towards the younger writers, and I love the interaction with them.
 
Have you any advice for young artists?
 
Aspiring artists need to learn the value of discipline. Art doesn’t happen quickly or easily.
 
Who inspires you?
 
Mode 2 from France and I’ve developed a new appreciation for Seen. I’m also inspired by musicians – such as Sadat X of Brand Nubian and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.
 
"Cortes graffiti"
 
Tell us something about your skulls. They surface in so many of your pieces.
 
Skulls have forever been a theme in all genres of art. When I first started painting skulls – while still in high school — I was suggesting that graffiti is dead. But now I think of skulls as a celebration of life through acknowledging death. And in relation to graffiti, the skulls have come to imply rebirth, as graff has been reborn.
 
What do you see as the future of graffiti?
 
I see it developing into more of a grass-roots movement. I see us developing our own events, along with smaller brands, as the huge brands have been dictating what kids see.
 
How do you feel about the street art vs. graffiti divide?
I don’t see them in conflict with one another. I see them simply as two separate genres. But I have difficulty understanding, for example, the Banksy phenomenon.
 
"Cortes graffiti"
 
What’s next?
 
More traveling, more black book videos, more tutorial videos and more walls. I’m planning to paint next in Brooklyn and I’m starting something new at 5Pointz. Next month I will be heading down to Miami for Art Basel.
 
Good luck! ‘sounds great!
 
Photos of Cortes at 5Pointz by Dani Mozeson;  in the Bronx by Lois Stavsky and painting in the Bronx by Lenny Collado

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