East Village

An art lover and dear friend to so many street artists, East Village–based Steve Stoppert is a local legend. True to his motto, “Just Paint,” he is the force behind one of NYC’s most visible public spaces – the wall facing the Second Avenue subway station. Dozens of artists have painted there, and dozens more wait their turn. Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Steve in his Second Avenue apartment that brims with art — from floor to ceiling — in just about every media and style.

We are fortunate that you have made New York City your home. Where were you born? And what brought you here?

I was born in Pontiac, Michigan — a northern suburb of Detroit. I came here in 1992 for two weeks to remodel my sister’s bathroom. And I never left. She was living on East 6th Street at the time.

What was it about NYC that so drew you in?

The music scene. It was magic!  Seeing the Pavement at the Mercury Lounge on the Lower East Side. Hanging out at CBGB on the Bowery…

And what about NYC’s art scene?

I used to go on my own to the Met. But it wasn’t until an artist friend took me on a tour of the museum and introduced me to Cézanne that something clicked!

What is your first street art/graffiti-related memory?

Definitely Shepard Fairey. Seeing Andre the Giant everywhere!

And how did you become so deeply involved with the current scene?

I started going out with Fumero late at night. I was his “look-out.” I remember thinking, “If only I’d had an aerosol can in my hand when I was 15!”

How has the street art scene changed since you first began paying attention to it? 

It’s different. These days, there are lots of fluffy paste-ups, and just about everyone is documenting it. But I still love it.

What is your favorite aspect of the scene?

I love the hunt. When I first began in 2010, I was obsessed with Jim Joe. I used to hunt for him daily. I chased him everywhere between the Lower East Side and Tribeca competing with folks on Tumblr for the most Jim Joe sightings.

For the past several years you’ve been curating a hugely visible wall right on your block. How do you decide which artists to feature?

I have a list of about 80-100 artists who’ve approached me. We simply select a name at random from a hat. Each month the wall changes.

What has the experience been like?

I love it. I love working with artists. I don’t even mind when they’re flakey or late. I just go with it.

How do you deal with the ever-present politics in this scene?

I ignore it completely.

Do any memorable experiences stand out? 

Fun times! When City Kitty got up on the wall and changed it 6-8 times within three months. And, of course, riding on my bike at 3am to 4am with flashlight and bike light – not knowing what I will see that I haven’t seen before.

What do you see as the future of this scene?

It seems to be at an all-time high with its increasing appeal to commercial buildings and high-end hotels.

Yes! It certainly has changed since I first fell in love with it! And we are thrilled that you are doing what you are doing. The wall that you curate is one of our faves.

Images:

1. Steve Stoppert in front or wall painted last Sunday by Key Detail

2, Noted California-born artist and musician Paul Kostabi

3. The itinerant Sirus Fountain aka Pyramid Oracle

4. Bronx-based Zimad

5. Brooklyn-based Argentine artists Magda Love and Sonni

6. The prolific Optimo NYC aka Optimo Primo, Werds and No Sleep

7. Brooklyn-based Argentine artist Ramiro Davaro-Comas

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

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

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

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Baston714 has been making his mark on our streets these past few years with his uniquely intriguing wheatpastes, paste-ups and stickers. By chance, I came upon him while he was painting a mural outside the Second Avenue subway station — one of our favorite street art spots. Soon afterwards, I had the opportunity to interview him:

When did you first discover your love for art?

Both my parents were artists and Pratt graduates. My father was a furniture designer and my mom a shoe designer. So art was always a part of my life. I was always creative and I was always drawing, but I majored in television broadcasting and worked largely in network news as an editor.

Do any early art-related memories stand out? Particularly those that may involve your parents?

One particular memory stands out. When I was five years old, after seeing the movie A Red Balloon, I started drawing red balloons all over my walls at home. My mother didn’t appreciate my efforts and made me wash them all off.  I remember, also, my father drawing characters and having me identify them. I’d guess who each one was. My father might have been a fantastic fine artist, but because he had a family to take care of, he never pursued that venue.

What motivated you to hit the streets with your distinct vision?

I didn’t expect to. I had no plans of being a street artist. But once I began to photograph street art, I was hooked. I started creating little drawings and sending them out to the street artists I’d met to get some feedback. The feedback was positive – and, like the street artists I’d befriended, I, too, wanted to share them in a public space. I started putting up stickers about three years ago.

Are there any street artists out there who particularly inspired you when you began to get your work up in public spaces?

Among those who inspired me were: Who is Dirk?, Fumero, Denton Borrows, Phetus 88. and Jeff Henriquez.. I started shooting videos with Who is Dirk?, at night. I loved the idea of being in Chinatown at 3 AM in the morning!

What about your name? How did you come up with Baston714 ?

I lived in the jungle for over five years in Iquitos, Peru — one of the most isolated cities in the world.  One of the Shamans — healers — gave me the nickname Baston which means walking stick in Spanish. And I always liked the number combination 714!

Can you tell us something about your now-iconic face?

The face was influenced by other artists and the experiences I had with Shamans while living in the jungle. Painting comes from a very personal space. I had an idea and started fooling around. I like my colors to pop.

Are you generally satisfied with your artwork?

I hate my work until I’m about midway through creating it. About 56% in, I say to myself, “There’s something here.” And then the work starts to talk to me, “Do this! Put something here.” It comes to life.

I first met you while you were working on a wall on Houston Street and 2nd Avenue. Was this your first mural?

No, I’ve painted about five or six walls. Kon Air  gave me my first wall in Barcelona. It took me six hours to finish painting it. Fumero, gave me a wall at Art Basel 2018. Spray painting is extremely challenging. I like the challenge, and I would like to paint more walls.

Have you collaborated with any other artists?

Yes, I’ve collaborated with Zimad on stickers. I have also worked with Sinclair the VandalWho is Dirk? and Doodlehedz.

Are there any artists out there with whom you’d like to collaborate?

Among those I’d like to collaborate with are: Ratanic, Antennae and Fluidtoons.

Whats ahead?

More wheatpastes and I’d like to work on more walls.

Interview conducted by Ana Candelaria and edited for clarity and brevity by Ana and Lois.

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

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During the past several weeks, over a dozen intriguing murals have surfaced at First Street Green Art Park. Fashioned by local, national and international artists, they reflect a huge range of styles and sensibilities, The now-iconic image featured above is the work of the nomadic Nite Owl. Several more recent additions to First Street Green Art Park follow:

Brazilian artist Panmela Castro at work

NYC-based Marzipan Physics

Brooklyn-based K-NOR 

Cram Concepts and Ratchi NYC

Brazilian artist Binho

Madrid-based Ramón Amorós

First Street Green Art Park is located at 33 East 1st Street, where the Lower East Side meets the East Village.

Photo credits: 1, 3-7 Lois Stavsky; 2 Ana Candelaria

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Working with paintbrush in hand, award-winning Manhattan-based artist Miguel Diego Colón recently brought his skills and vision to First Street Green Art Park. After he had finished his mural, I posed a few questions to him:

Although your artwork surfaced publicly this past year on a huge billboard near the Kings Plaza Shopping Center, this was the first time you actually painted in public. What was that experience like?

It was amazing! I loved interacting with passersby who stopped to watch me. I loved hearing people’s interpretations of what I was doing. And I felt flattered when people took photos of the mural and of me while I was painting.

All of your images reference some kind of economic or social injustice. How did you decide which images to incorporate into your mural?

I researched online the term “social justice.” I then visually interpreted particular issues that stood out…that particularly mattered to me.

And so the overall theme of your mural is social justice — or the lack of it.

Yes. I am concerned with oppression of all kinds…what it means to have one’s rights taken away.

Is there any particular segment of the mural that you especially like? 

One of my favorite segments is the image of the couple embracing during the collapse of a sweatshop. I like the way it represents connection — the way people can connect, especially during trying times.

What’s ahead?

I’m currently applying for a number of grants. And I would love, of course, more opportunities to paint in public spaces. I’m also working in my Fountain House Gallery studio on a painting modeled on my First Street Green Art Park mural, “Liberty’s Last Embrace.”

It sounds great! Good luck with it all! And, thank you, Jonathan Neville and First Street Green Art Park.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky. Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Dublin-based stencil artist Solus has once again brought his talents to NYC. Featured here are several images of his work on NYC streets and from his upcoming solo exhibition opening this Thursday, June 6 at 212 Arts in the East Village.

Another image of  Solus at work on his “Boxing Ballerina ” portrait at the Ridge Hotel on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Up in he South Bronx — painted on an earlier visit

Preparing for Thursday’s opening at 212 Arts

To be featured in “What Was in My Head,” the artist’s upcoming solo exhibition at 212 Arts

What Was In My Head opens Thursday evening from 6-9:30pm. Located at 523 East 12th Street, 212 Arts is open Thursday-Saturday from 3-7pm and Sunday, 2-8pm.

All photos courtesy of the artist; photos 1-2 by Ana Candelaria

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Late last year — when I was out of the country — the Painting Center presented Symbols, Totems and Ciphers. Curated by acclaimed artist Scot Borofsky, who had been active on the streets of the East Village back in the 80’s, the exhibit featured works in a range of media by those artists who had pioneered the street art movement. As I had missed that historical exhibit, I was delighted to discover that a variation of it is now on view at the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park South. Featured above is one of the legendary Keith Haring‘s subway drawings, photographed by Fernando Natalici. It was Keith Haring, noted Borofsky, who brought “the idea of street-art into the consciousness of every New Yorker.” What follows are several more images I captured while visiting Studio in the Street: Symbols – Totems – Ciphers at the National Arts Club.

The noted Italian multi-media artist Paolo Buggiani, Street Hanging Sculpture, Mixed media

The late Chicano stencil artist Michael Roman — captured by  Scot Borofsky

Multi-media artist and writer Bob Dombrowski, Thirteen, Silkscreen on paper

The prolific Florida-based artist R.V. (Robin Van Arsdol), RV’s Images, Acrylic on canvas, 1985

Artist and curator Scot Borofsky, whose site specific works on local ruins often referenced Pre-Columbian patterns

Other pioneering street artists featured in Studio in the Street: Symbols – Totems – Ciphers include: AVANTRichard Hambleton, Ken Hiratsuka, SAMO and Kevin Wendall.  The exhibition continues at the National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South, through June 14 and is open to the public Monday to Friday, 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.

Photos of artworks (and photos) 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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Inaugurating its New York space with a sprawling, hugely impressive exhibition of a broad range of works by the late Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Brant Foundation has brought the spirit of the legendary artist back to the East Village. Curated by Brant Foundation founder Peter M. Brant with Basquiat scholar Dieter Buchhart and organized in collaboration with the Fondation Louis Vuitton, the exhibition, itself, is a cause for celebration. The image featured above, “Untitled,” was fashioned by the artist in 1981 with acrylic, oilstick, and spray paint on wood, A few more images featuring Basquiat’s raw and largely irreverent aesthetic, captured at this splendid exhibition, follow:

Museum Security (Broadway Meltdown), Acrylic, oilstick and paper collage on canvas, 1983

Big ShoesAcrylic, oilstick and collage on canvas, 1983

Hollywood Africans, Acrylic and oilstick on canvas, 1983

Irony of a Negro Policeman, Acrylic and lipstick on wood, 1981

Arroz con Pollo, Acrylic and oilstick on canvas, 1981

Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump, Acrylic on canvas, 1982

The exhibition continues at the Brant Foundation, 421 East Sixth Street, through May 15. Although admission is free, reservations are necessary.

Photos of images 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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Shoot the Pump, a wonderfully engaging exhibit featuring an eclectic mix of works in a range of media by two dozen NYC-based artists, continues through November 4 at Bullet Space, an urban artist collective at 292 East 3rd Street. Curated by Lee Quiñones, Alexandra Rojas and Andrew Castrucci, it is largely a pean to the ubiquitous fire hydrant and its massive significance to the lives and minds of NYC kids. Pictured above is Pink Pump fashioned with acrylic on canvas by the legendary Lady Pink. Several more images follow:

Barry Hazard, Water Main, Acrylic on wood, 2018

Martin Wong, I Really Like the Way Firemen Smell, Acrylic on canvas, c. 1988

John Ahearn, Point Guard Renzo, Acrylic on reinforced plaster, 2018

Bobby G, Superzentrierte, Oil and aluminum paint on canvas, 1983

Alexandra Rojas in collaboration with John Ahearn, Installation; Hydrant water on oil shellac and reinforced plaster, 2018

Lee Quiñones, Trepidation, Metal cans, wood, 2018

Bullet Space is open Saturday and Sunday from 1 – 6pm or by appointment — 347.277.9841. Check here for a full list of the artists on exhibit. Most of the artists, explains co-curator Alexandra Rojas, have strong roots on the Lower East Side, as Bullet Space continues to keep its culture alive amidst the rapid changes in the neighborhood. Lee Quiñones, in fact, lived in the building where Bullet Space is housed.

Photos of artworks 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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Launched by artists and arts educators Max Frieder and Joel Bergner aka Joel Artista, Artolution is a community-based public art initiative with the goal of promoting healing and positive social change through collaborative art making. For two weeks last month, Artolution directors, Max Frieder and Joe Artista — along with members of the local community — worked with LGBTQ+ students from NYC’s Harvey Milk High School and with students facing such challenges as autism and down symdrome from the Manhattan School of Career Development. The results are remarkable!

Planning session in progress

Young artists at work

Discarded objects become not only an art installation, but musicial instruments, as well

Segment of final mural

Completed mural

A cause for celebration

The mural can be seen on 5th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues in the East Village.

Photos by Tara Murray

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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Representing a diverse range of styles and sensibilities, several new murals have surfaced at First Street Green Art Park on the corner of Houston & 2nd Avenue.  The image pictured above was painted by Bangkok native Gongkan. What follows are several more:

NYC-based Sean Slaney and Angry Red

NYC-based Ryan Consbruck aka Special Robot Dog

Queens-based Brittany

Alexandra Evans (L) and Poem One (R)

Will Power at work on LOVE YOUR SELFie

Photos 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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