East Harlem

The Grandscale Mural Project, one of my favorite public art projects in town, brings vitality, color and intrigue to East Harlem. Since this past summer, I’ve revisited its current reiteration several times, always delighted by its diversity and charm.

The mural captured above — a portrait of public art administrator and producer Ayana Ayo — was painted by muralist and teaching artist Kristy McCarthy aka D. Gale. A few more images — almost certain to refuel your spirits in these uncertain times — follow:

Multidisciplinary Ecuadorian artist and educator Toofly

NYC-based visual artist and arts educator Lola Lovenotes

Multidisciplinary Brazilian-American artist Phes

    Mexico-born artist Sandy Perez

Bronx-based artist and arts educator Lady K Fever

Bronx-bred style master Image

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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Organized and curated by the hugely inspiring East Harlem-based artist and educator Carmen Paulino aka Carmen Community Artist, “Cities Healing Through Fiber & Art” showcases a range of artworks — largely fashioned with yarn — spanning two floors of  El Barrio’s Art Space PS109. Featured above are two of Carmen’s works — The Notorious RGB  and My Body My Choice — on exhibit. Several more artworks on view in this group exhibition — follow:

Miami-based Kern Myrtle, Wet Paint

Philadelphia-based Linette Messina, Say Her Name, Breonna Taylor, Acrylic yarn

California-based Felicia Provenzano, Heart of the City

East Harlem-based Michael Paulino, Alas Yorick’s Skull, Acrylic paint and yarn

Milagros Rios, Yellow NYC Taxi

Alisha Soto, Lecciones de Amor

The artists and more — with exhibition curator Carmen Paulino aka Carmen Community Artist, fourth to the left in front row

A visual ode to the power of art to help us heal in these challenging times, the exhibition remains on view through November 29 at El Barrio’s Art Space PS109  at 215 East 99th Street.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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The Grandscale Mural Project returned to East Harlem this summer bringing dozens of alluring new murals to East 125th Street.  Featuring a huge range of  themes and styles, the project showcases works by both established and emerging artists. The intriguing image pictured above, A Walk to Freedom, was painted by NYC-based Baltimore native Mark West as a visual ode to those slaves who risked their lives or died in their struggle to attain freedom. Several more images of newly surfaced walls follow:

Harlem-based Marthalicia Marthalicia

East Harlem-based Scratch

Brooklyn-based Jason Naylor

The legendary Bronx-based John Matos aka Crash One captured at work earlier this month

Luis F Perez and Fausto Manuel Ramos of Lost Breed Culture

Bronx-born, Yonkers-based Michael Cuomo

Keep posted to our Instagram page, as there are many more murals from the Grandscale Mural Project waiting to be captured!

Photo credits:  1, 2, 6 & 7 Lois Stavsky; 3, 4 & 5 Tara Murray

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Working with yarn, Carmen Paulino aka Carmen Community Artist has been busily bringing intriguing images and timely messages to the streets of East Harlem and beyond. I was delighted to recently meet her and find out a bit about her:

When did you first share your artwork in a public space?

Back in 2015, I did live painting outdoors with members of my East Harlem community. And then in 2018, I began yarn-bombing. I’d been working with yarn for years, but only then did I get it out in public.

What inspired you to do so at the time?

I had participated in an exhibition of fiber art at El Barrio Art Space. And I was suddenly inspired to take my art outside. I saw it as a way to beautify my community. I love East Harlem, and I wanted to add color to my neighborhood.

Were there any particular artists who inspired you to get your vision out on the streets?

Yes! Two particular artists who stand out are: Naomi Lawrence aka Naomi Rag – who’s been active in East Harlem now for several years – and the Philadelphia-based yarn bomber Nicole Nikolich aka Lace in the Moon.

Do you generally have permission to install your artwork?

Yes! I always know someone who has some connection to the site.

What is the attitude of your friends and family to what you are doing?

They are all proud of me!

What is your main source of income?

In 2014, I began working as a teaching artist in community centers, hospitals and senior centers. But for the past three years, I’ve worked mostly with seniors – and I love it! They are a constant source of inspiration.

Besides crafting with yarn and teaching art, have you any other particular interests?

I love to paint. I had a phenomenal teacher — when I was a student at Richard Green High School — who encouraged me, and I’ve been painting ever since.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I enjoy doing both. I’ve recently collaborated with Alisha aka Little Nugget Workshop, Viviana Rambay and Glenys Rivas.

Have you a formal art education?

No. I’m essentially self-taught. I learned my craft from my grandmother and mother.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Spanish culture – Indigenous, Latin American, Colombian.

Have you exhibited your work in a gallery setting?

Yes. I’m actively involved with the El Barrio Art Space.

Early in the pandemic many of your pieces expressed gratitude to the essential workers and urged folks to stay home. More recently your artworks have been focusing on the importance of voting in the upcoming election. What inspires your pieces?

I’m inspired by the people I meet and what is happening around me. In early spring my pieces were largely inspired by my husband, FDNY EMS Paramedic Michael Paulino — who has been working in the front line — and by all of the essential workers out there who put so much at risk. Current affairs have triggered my newer works.

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

No. I don’t work with a sketch. My work evolves as I create it.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

Always!

What do you see as the role of the artist in society? And your role – in particular?

I see the artist as an agent of change. And my role is to bring a sense of peace and safety to my community, while beautifying it.

What’s ahead?

A collaborative memorial for East Harlem victims of Covid-19.

Thank you, Carmen, for all that you do!  I am looking forward to what’s ahead.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photos: 1 & 4, courtesy of the artist; 2, 3, 5 & 6 Lois Stavsky

Note: Photo 3 features a collaboration with Alisha S aka Little Nugget Workshop, and the fourth photo features a collaboration with Alisha S aka Little Nugget Workshop, Viviana Rambay and Glenys Rivas.

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Organized by Ayana Ayo and coordinated by Kathleena Howie aka Lady K-Fever, Uptown Counts: Art as Activism is an exhibition of artworks by over 20 artists who lent their works to a range of uptown spaces to draw attention to the importance of the 2020 Census, particularly in East Harlem.

The number of East Harlem residents who respond to the 2020 Census will determine how much of the $675 billion in federal dollars the community will receive over the next 10 years — funding essential to schools, housing, healthcare, infrastructure and food assistance.  Yet, only 40 percent of East Harlem residents are predicted to respond to the 2020 Census.

Among the artists featured in the exhibit are several who also use the streets as their canvas.  The image above, “Mother and Child,” painted by East Harlem-resident Marthalicia Matarrita, has found a temporary home at the legendary Sylvia’s Restaurant. A small sampling of  images —  featured in Uptown Counts: Art as Activism —  by artists whose works also surface in public spaces follows:

 Danielle Mastrion, Offering — at Harlem Yoga Studio 

 Lady K-Fever, Justice at Last — at Sisters Caribbean Cuisine 

Royal KingBee, BEE Cautious

MED, Resist

Al Diaz, Flowers Will No Longer Grow…

Because of the pandemic, the spaces hosting the artwork are largely inaccessible for the next several weeks. But you can check out the entire exhibit — sponsored by the nonprofit organization Uptown Grand Central — online here.

And — now — be sure to take the 2020 Census!  It is a political and social justice issue. You can do it online, by phone (844-330-2020) or by mail.

Images and info for this post courtesy exhibition coordinator, Kathleena Howie aka Lady K-Fever

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For three weekends this past month, dozens of artists were at work transforming three blocks of fencing located adjacent to the 125th Street Metro-North into a vibrant, intriguing outdoor gallery. While visiting last weekend, we had the opportunity to pose a few questions to its dynamic curator, Ayana Ayo.

This project is wonderful. We love the way it transforms the neighborhood, while bringing so many folks together to celebrate its renewal. How did you come to curate it?

I work with Carey King, the Executive Director of the Uptown Grand Central — a nonprofit dedicated to transforming East 125th Street and enriching life in East Harlem. I had earlier curated the 100 Gates Project in this neighborhood, and I loved the idea of bringing life to a space that has been vacant for the past ten years.

In addition to beautifying the neighborhood and uplifting its spirit, how would you define this project’s mission?

I was interested in giving an opportunity to artists — many who live uptown – to come together share their visions in a public space. Several of these artists have never painted outdoors before. Others have international reputations. All feel a strong connection to the neighborhood.

Over 50 artists have participated in this project. It’s an amazingly eclectic group. How did you connect with so many talented artists to see this project through?

I sent out a call to artistst describing the project’s mission of transforming “1,500 feet of green construction fencing into a vibrant gateway to Harlem.”  And I spoke to artists I know who, I thought, would be interested in participating in the project. The word got around!

What were some of the challenges you faced in seeing this project through?

Coordinating the schedules of over 50 artists; winning over the local people, so that they felt engaged with the project and having to turn down artists who wanted to participate.

How are you feeling now — that it’s just about complete in time forUptown Grand Central’s third annual street festival, Party on Park?

Over the moon! I am so happy.

What’s ahead?

More opportunities for Uptown Grand Central, as it continues its transformation of East Harlem!

So exciting! And congratulations on the Grand Scale Mural Project! 

Images

1  Ralph Serrano and Anjl at work

2  Curator Ayana Ayo. standing in front of mural by Dister

Anna Lustberg at work

Toofly

Alexis Duque with Shiro to his right

6  Funqest at work

Chris Ayala and Rob Ayala

Interview conducted by Lois Stavsky with Ana Candelaria and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3 & 6 Ana Candelaria; 4, 5 & 7 Lois Stavsky

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This past weekend the Graffiti Hall of Fame celebrated its 39th anniversary in the famed schoolyard on 106th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem. Pictured above is a b-boy celebrating Duster‘s vibrant piece. Several more images captured at the event follow:

Bronx-based Tony 164 with spray can in hand

Per One FX with spray can in hand — with Shiro and more to the left of his piece

Lower East Side-based Hektad

Yonkers-native Blame FX

5Pointz Creates founder Meres One

Graffiti Hall of  Fame director and veteran writer James Top in front of small segment of his tribute mural to Dondi

Special thanks to Scratch for helping us identify and introducing us to so many legendary writers.

Photo credits: 1-5 and 7 Ana Candelaria; 6 Lois Stavsky

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This past Thursday, Tats Cru members BG 183, Bio and Nicer — along with CrashNick Walker and Daze — once again transformed their wall at East Harlem’s Graffiti Hall of Fame. Featured above are BG 183 and UK native Nick Walker at work. What follows are several more photos of the artists in action– all captured Thursday by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad.

BG 183

Crash

Nick Walker 

Daze

Bio

Nicer

The artists — Nick WalkerDaze, BG 183, Crash, Bio and Nicer

And the wall

Photos by Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad

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One of my favorite spots in town is East Harlem’s Guerrilla Gallery. Located on 116th Street, between second and third Avenues, it hosts some of the most authentic walls found anywhere. Always reflecting the spirit of the folks who either live in East Harlem or identify with its culture, the art that surfaces there is often political, provocative and celebratory. The aerosol portrait featured above was painted by Mexican artist Tomer Linaje.

This summer’s installation, produced by the Harlem Art Collective, is a salute to Harlem. Several images I captured of the current installation while exploring the neighborhood this past week follow:

Evelyn C Suarez, Rashida Stewart and more

Adam Bomb with Rafael Gama, bottom right

Rafael Gama, closer-up

Kristy McCarthy aka Dorothy Gale, Shani Evans, Rashida Stewart and more

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Located on 120th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem, Eugene McCabe Field is now home to two tantalizing public art installations.  Featured above is a close-up from local fiber artist Naomi RAG‘s 12 x 24 foot mural fashioned from yarn.

A larger segment of the mural

The mural, La Flor De Mi Madre, in its entirety

Harlem-based Capucine Bourcart, Eat Me!, a photographic mosaic of approximately 1,500 printed metal square pictures of local healthy food — asking to be eaten!

Photos captured at dusk in the heat by Lois Stavsky

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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