exhibition

Active on both the streets and in his studio, Will Power fashions stylishly seductive images, often fusing elements of  graffiti, street art and fine art. His talents can now be viewed not only on the streets of his native New Jersey and throughout NYC, but in  the group exhibition, On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey, that continues through February 27 at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey. While selecting studio works to feature in the exhibition, I had the opportunity to interview Will.

When and where did you first get up?

I first got up in 1983. And about a year later I did my first character, a devil. In 1985, I hit the White Castle on Journal Square. No one had ever hit that wall before. I was 14 at the time.

Had you any preferred surface back then?

Any place visible.

Did anyone or anything in particular inspire you at the time?

The movie Style Wars. It came out in 1983.

Do any early graffiti-related memories come to mind?

Racking up cans and bombing the bathrooms in Dickinson High School. The entire building was covered with graffiti.

Were you ever arrested?

Never! I knew what I was doing. I knew when and where to do it.

Did you belong to any crews back then?

A few. TFK (The Fresh Kingdom); KOC (Kings of Cremation) and MOB (Masters of Bombing).

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I’d rather work alone. Often when I collaborate, I feel as though I’m carrying the other person. The exception is Albertus Joseph. We began collaborating in 2018, and we’ve developed our distinct aesthetic that we call “Gritty City Styles.”

Is there anyone, in particular, with whom you’d like to collaborate?

The Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo. I’d like to paint graffiti-style over his Sistine Chapel.

Have you any thoughts about the street art/graffiti divide? You certainly bridge the two.

The line is getting thinner and thinner. The problem is that street artists and graffiti writers don’t really get to talk to each other. The writers feel that the street artists are doing it for the money. But our motivation is really the same. We love what we do, and we have fun doing it!

What about the street art scene here in New Jersey? Any thoughts about it?

We need a “scene!” There are not enough legal walls and it’s all too cliquish. And I’d like to see the state do more to promote local artists.

Street artists are increasingly collaborating with the corporate world. Have you any feelings about that partnership?

That depends on the circumstances, the particular product and the way it’s being represented.

And how do you feel about the movement of graffiti and street art into galleries and museums? 

I feel good about it. Graffiti and street art should be moving into galleries and museums. It’s the logical progression.

How would you describe your ideal working environment?

It’s in my home. I find a space to paint in my house, and it becomes my studio and my sanctuary.

Have you a formal art education?

No. I’m self-taught. Graffiti was my teacher.

What inspires you these days?

My main sources of inspiration are: hip-hop, iconography, God and the Bible.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

I lived with my mother’s family in Thailand for three years from about 4-7. I vividly remember the detailed, decorative repetitive patterns and the classic spiritual beauty of the Buddhist temples. And I spent six months with my stepfather’s family in Egypt after I graduated from high school. There was gold everywhere! That’s what stands out. But the hip-hop culture has always been my main influence.

Is there a central theme that ties your work together?

Hip-hop and spirituality.

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

Mostly, I don’t. But for commissions, I sometimes have to.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece? And how do you know when it’s finished?

I am satisfied with it. I know it’s finished when it feels balanced.

How important are other’s reactions to you?

On my studio work, they’re not important. But when I paint outside, it’s for the people. And then it matters.

How has your work evolved through the years?

It began with tagging and bombing the streets, and now it’s working on canvas fusing elements of graffiti, urban art and fine art.

How has the work you’ve done on the streets impacted your studio work?

The media I use are largely the same ones I use on the streets: spray paint, wheatpastes, stencils and charcoal. But I’ve also begun working more and more with oil paint and oil sticks in the studio.

How has your studio work evolved in the past several years?

I’m definitely taking more chances, and my tones are often more subtle. And working with oil paint adds a classical element to it.

How long do you generally spend on a studio piece? On a street art work?

I spend, on the average, of about three months on a studio piece, and anywhere from 4-6 hours on a work on the streets.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society? 

My role is to share my God-given talents with others.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

I’d have to say all of it, because even at my day job – my main source of income – I paint in my head.

Note: Will Power‘s work remains on view through February 27 at the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ and for the next several weeks, you may even find him collaborating with the legendary Al Diaz at First Street Green Art Park.

Interview by Lois Stavsky

Photos feature Will Power‘s studio and street art in various indoor and outdoor venues. Images 3 & 8 in collaboration with fellow Ex-Vandals member, Albertus Joseph

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Lower East Side native Marcus Glitteris is not only an intriguing self-taught artist but a passionate curator, as well.  Largely  influenced by New York City’s Downtown club scene, he teems with the energy that permeated it. Earlier this week, I stopped by Home Grown, an exhibit he curated at Village Works in the East Village, and posed a few questions to him:

Can you tell us something about your vision in curating this exhibit?

Its main focus is to showcase the varied works of a wide range of artists who live or have lived on Manhattan’s Lower East Side or East Village.

And what about this wonderful space?

Village Works is the name of this new gallery. Designated specifically as a space to showcase NYC artists, it sells rare art books, as well as art. My friend, Joe Sheridan, is the creative director here. We know each other from the night life scene, but since, Joe has since ventured into the the artist community and invited me to curate here. This space used to be an architectural firm.

What about the show’s title? It does seem appropriate now that I know a bit of the backstory. 

“Home Grown” is a term lots of New Yorkers, especially those in urban neighborhoods, grew up with. It references the distinct qualities and influences of a particular neighborhood. In my case — and in the case of many artists in this show — it is the Lower East Side.

The range of artists here is so varied — in terms of their backgrounds and choice of media. How did you choose which artists to include in this exhibition? 

It’s a community. Many I’ve known for a long time. Others I met and got to know in varied circumstances. Carol Fassler, for example, is a photographer I met on many occasions over the years on Thursday nights at the New Museum. And then there are artists who were new to me…whom I didn’t know anything about. Nora Timbila, for example, was introduced to me by Joe. When I curate, I like to mix up shows with artists who are established, artists who are emerging and artists who’ve never had a show before.

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

Working with artists in any industry can be complex. Some of the artists — especially the more established ones  — ask, “Who else is in the show?” or “Where is the venue?”  So I have to deal with that. And it can get stressful!  To be a successful curator, though, I have to admit that I’m not always right, and yet still set boundaries. A curator has to have patience, compassion and love.

How was the response to this particular exhibit?

It was wonderful! The energy was great, as were all the people who came by.

Congratulations!  I especially loved discovering artists in Home Grown who were new to me.

Note:  Home Grown continues at Village Works, 90 East 3rd Street, through next Wednesday, April 14. Text 917.749.0319 to find out if the gallery is open or to make an appointment.

Images:

1 Optimo NYC 

2 Marcus Glitteris

3 Marina Reiter

4 BC1 NBA

5 Nora Timbila

6 A. Candela

7 As seen from the outside — Renda Writer and Hektad

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1, 4, 5 & 7 Lois Stavsky; 2, 3 & 6 A. Candela

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Featuring a wide range of artworks in varied media and styles by a diverse group of artists, Art on the Ave has enlivened the visual landscape of Columbus Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Both vacant and retail storefronts have been showcasing artworks — many fashioned by underrepresented artists — that speak to our immediate times. Conceived this past June by three NYC teachers, the project has a strong educational component, as well.

The image featured above, We the People, is the work of mixed-media African-American artist and arts educator Lance Johnson. Several more images from Art on the Ave — spanning 67th to 77th Street on Columbus Avenue — follow:

From A.J. Stetson’s remarkable photography project Masked NYC: Witness to Our Time 

And dozens more installed on the fence of PS 334 at West 77th Street 

Fine art photographer Kevin Kinner, Close-up from huge installation of silhouette profiles

Feminist artist and gallerist Audrey Anastasi, Touch, Charcoal and mixed media collage on paper

Artist and game developer Steve Derrick, Alissa Hammer RN, NYU Langone Hospital NYC — from his series of portraits of frontline workers

The hugely imaginative Jon Barwick, Facet, Acrylic on canvas

Serving as creative consultant for Art on the Ave — that continues through January 31 — is Lisa DuBois, director of X Gallery in Harlem. For further information on this project, check here.

Photo credits:

1 Lance Johnson; 2, 4-7 Lois Stavsky

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Following the murder of George Floyd, the spirit of resistance that once characterized Lower Manhattan once again permeated its streets, as the boarded-up stores became canvases for politically driven murals.  Several of these artworks no longer on the streets are on view in a splendid exhibition — curated by Sono Kuwayama, Bob Holman and Howl! Happening — at Howl! on 6 East 1st Street. Others remain on the streets. The image featured above, Black Trans Lives Matter,  was fashioned with acrylic and house paint on plywood by Maya EdelmanScooter LaForge, and Sono Kuwayama.

Several more images follow — from both the Howl! exhibition and its neighboring blocks.

Multidisciplinary artist Lissa Baur, “Injustice Anywhere Is a Threat,” Acrylic on plywood, on view at Howl! 

Mrs. Skittles, Grace H. Gutekanst and Robert Blodgett, “Little Boy Blue,” Acrylic on plywood, on view at Howl! 

Colombian/American artist Felix Morelo,GOOD LUCK SPOT,” Acrylic on plywood, on view at Howl! 

Michael Walling and DLA, as seen on East 4th Street

Irena Kenny & Sono Kuwayama, as seen on East 4th Street

The noted painter Izhar Patkin, as seen on Cooper Square

The exhibition continues at Howl! through Sunday, August 23, from 11 AM–6 PM,  Thursday–Sunday.

Photos of images by Lois Stavsky

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I first encountered JoDo’s now-iconic bee on a wall in Bushwick several years ago. And this past week, I had the opportunity to visit it in all its glory in JoDo’s first retrospective exhibition on view at The Yard on 85 Delancey Street. We, also, had a chance to speak:

When and where did your now-iconic bee first surface in the public sphere? 

In November, 2015 here in NYC.

What inspired you to hit the streets with it?

Once I moved to NYC, I started noticing all that was happening on the streets here. And so I decided to take my bee – that first appeared indoors in a group exhibition – outside.

Can you tell us something about your bee? What does it represent? 

It is a divine creature that represents the communication between the Gods and us humans. Each bee is distinct.

And what about its name — JoDo?

It’s a reference to my parents. Jo from my father’s name; and Do from my mom’s.

I’ve seen your bee on a wide range of surfaces. Have you any preferred ones?

I love stone and brick, but any kind of surface is fine.

Do you prefer to paint on the streets “with permission?” Or would you rather do it illegally?

I like both. Generally what I do is unsanctioned, but there are advantages to painting legally. For example, when I paint with Paint for Pink in Newark, I am given not only a wall, but paint and all the time I need!

What is your first graffiti memory?

The writing I noticed while growing up in Mexico City. I didn’t get involved with it because I assumed it was associated with gangs. But I loved trying to decipher its letters. 

What about cultural influences? What are your principal ones?

Definitely NYC graffiti, and I’ve been influenced by the time I spent working within Mayan communities in the jungles of Mexico.

What is your most memorable graffiti experience?

My time in St. Petersburg, Russia. I met up there with the graffiti writer AKA6. It was the first time I bombed with spray paint, rather than with mops.

And the riskiest thing you’ve done?

Also in Russia. Painting by myself inside the ruins of buildings. I didn’t know what could happen to me.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

Yes, I kiss and hug all of my pieces after I finish them and whenever I pass them by

Have you exhibited your work?

Yes. Among the spaces I’ve shown in are: the Living Gallery, 17 Frost and here at the Yard.

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

My family is very supportive. They both hugely appreciate art.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

When I’m not working at marketing or art curation, I’m doing art. And when I’m not doing it, I’m thinking about it.

What are some of your other interests?

Discovering other people’s talents. 

Have you any feelings — positive or negative — regarding the engagement of graffiti artists with the corporate world?

I love the idea of infiltrating the corporate world. That’s how we artists can have more influence and reach people who otherwise might not see our work. It’s like playing with the system to get our message out.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

They include: the late British painter JM William Turner; the late Japanese conceptual artist On Kawara; the late Italian-Argentine artist Lucio Fontana Rubens; the Italian conceptual artist Maurizio Cattelan; the late Spanish sculptor Eduardo Chillida, and the late American sculptor Robert Smitson.

Do you prefer painting alone or with others?  

I’m very independent, but I also like painting with others. Among those I’ve gotten up with are: Easy, Sev TDT, the ACK Crew, Blitz, Rambo, Pork, Glazer, Token, ZB-Bunny, Myster, TCOB, Slae, AKA6, Lansky, Sohr, Freaky, Uncle Robert, Hank, Trice, Regalos Margot, ET, Avocado, CaseEx-Vandals, Delay, DB, Umii, Pariah, Dwel, Hiss, El Sol, Chupa and the O’s, Image, Jel, Nic 707, the TDT Crew, KRR, Masters of Massacre, Extremely Humble  and Optimo.

Have you any thoughts on the graffiti/street art divide? 

Graffiti and street art are both art, but they’re totally different categories of expression. Most street artists just bring their fine art sensibilities outdoors. Most writers are driven to make their mark and be part of graffiti history.

Have you a formal art education?

No. I studied art curation. My father taught me how to draw. He took me to museums just about every week. And then when I lived in Europe, I visited museums all the time.

How has your iconic bee evolved through the years?

It used to be very stiff. Now it flows. It’s definitely improved!

Where else besides NYC and St. Petersburg has it surfaced?

It’s made its way to Moscow, Asilah, Malaga, Cadiz, Ek Balam, Mexico City, Playa del Carmen and Miami.

What’s ahead?

I want to create more art – some with the bee and some without it. I want to work on a larger scale, and I want to continue to make my parents proud of me.

How can folks see JoDo Was Here — your current show on the 2nd and 3rd floors of The Yard on the Lower East Side?

Viewing hours are Monday – Friday 10-5 and weekends by appointment. They can direct message me via my Instagram or drop a note to Lee Wells of the International Fine Arts Consortium (IFAC) at Lee@ifac-arts.com. The exhibit  continues through March 22.

Great! And congratulations on this exhibit! 

Interview conducted and edited for clarity and brevity by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1 Ana Candelaria; 2, 5 & 8 Courtesy of the artist, and 3, 4, 6, 7 & 9 Lois Stavsky

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Earlier this month, the French Collective DA MENTAL VAPORZ — consisting of Bom.k, Brusk, Kan, Blo, Jaw, Lek and Sowat — brought their talents to Tel Aviv. At once darkly discomfiting and stunningly mesmerizing, their exhibition, Alone in the Dark, continues through March at the historic Beit Ha’ir Museum on 27 Bialik Street. What follows are a few more images I captured on a recent afternoon visit to the exhibition that made its way onto Beit Ha’ir’s walls, floors and celings:

From the outside looking in:

One of the many details of the installation

A bit of gore, detail

And some buoyant shapes and colors

One of many collaged images

Beit Ha’ir Museum exterior

One of several postcard images

Photos of images: Lois Stavsky

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Self-described as a “NYC-based visually impaired Street-Pop artist with a vintage flair,” the lovely OG Millie primarily fashions infectious portraits of iconic international figures. Ranging from the Buddha to Biggie, they are customarily painted with brilliant hues onto vintage decorative mirrors, exuding a distinctly enchanting aura.

A wonderfully diverse sampling of the artist’s portraits were exhibited this past Wednesday at a reception held at Long Island City’s magical Paper Factory Hotel, celebrating the Queens launch of LG USA Mobile‘s impressive, new five-camera LGV40 ThinQ. Pictured above is OG Millie‘s rendition of the Buddha. Several more images follow:

The famed Brooklyn-based rapper Biggie Smalls

The legendary American rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix

The German-born brilliant physicist Albert Einstein

And all eyes upon her  — or the phone capturing her! –as she intently begins to paint live

Note: You can see the final piece painted live by OG Millie here.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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If you haven’t yet had your portrait drawn with one line in under one minute by the wonderfully passionate, nomadic Brooklyn-based 0H10 M1ke, tomorrow is your chance. From 6 – 10pm, Mike promises to do that and lots more at 198 Allen Street. Last week, we met up and caught up a bit.

When we last spoke in 2014, you said that your goal was to create 100,000 one-line matchbox portraits? Mine was 11,206! How close are you to your goal?

My most recent was #13,021! I’ve done quite a few at 17 Frost, at 198 Allen, on the trains, on the streets — anywhere I can!

How do you approach folks? And how do they respond?

I simply say, “Give me a New York moment; I’ll draw your portrait in one line on a matchbox in one minute.” They generally respond with skepticism. But once they see the portrait I’ve created, they like it.

In addition to your ongoing matchbox project, what other projects have engaged you as of late?

I’ve been preparing for my upcoming solo show and performance If Basquiat and Keith Haring had a baby…reimagining the works of Basquiat and Haring in one-line drawings. I’ve, also, been working on creating sculptures inspired by Warhol; instead of using Brillo boxes, I use Nike boxes. And I’ve been staging wrestling as dance, which will be projected –along with large portraits — onto a huge screen outside 198 Allen.

What inspires you to keep creating?

I’m compulsive. I have to. And people, the street art community in particular, have been welcoming and supportive.

Are there any particular artists out there who continue to influenc your aesthetic?

Obviously Haring and Basquiat. But other main influences include UFO and Neckface.

Anything else new — in terms of your art-making?

I’ve been getting my original drawings into hand-made books. I recently constructed a 3o-pocket rotating magazine rack, and I’ve filled it with all hand-made original artbooks and magazines. I also create on a larger variety of surfaces.

What’s ahead?

Murals, prints and reproducibles.

Good luck with it all!

Note: You can keep up with 0H10 M1ke here — now that he’s posting on Instagram!

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; all images courtesy of the artist

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Brimming with exuberant energy and stylishly striking images, HIGH & TIGHT, LA2‘s solo exhibition, is a cause for celebration.  Proclaimed by Keith Haring — with whom he had collaborated in the 80’s — as the “Graffiti King of the Lower East Side,” LA2 is tighter than ever. Pictured above is LA2 standing next to the exhibit’s curator and gallerist, Jonathan Satin. Several more images captured while I visited the space at 198 Allen Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side follow:

Installation of several canvases, sneakers, skateboard deck and more 

 

Several more artworks and memorabilia reminiscent of LA2’s collaborations with Keith Haring

Canvases, repurposed traffic sign, skateboard deck, guitar and collaboration with London-based Stik

 

You can join LA2 tonight — from 8-11pm — at 198 Allen Street. He promises “live painting and dancing” in celebration of Independence Day. And through Sunday’s 5pm closing, the space is open every day from 12-8pm

Photos: 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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Learn and Skate — an organization dedicated to promoting skateboard culture and education in disadvantaged areas, while encouraging youngsters to pursue their dreams was conceived in France in 2012 by Toulouse-based Jean Claude Geraud, with the assistance of Richard Schenten. After building a skate park in the Ugandan countryside in 2016 with funds raised from auctioning skateboard decks, Learn and Skate is now raising funds to help support the production of the first skate park in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Ride for Mongolia, a charity exhibition dedicated to raising the money to make this happen, will take place from May 28 to June 2 at Manhattan’s MADE Hotel, 44 West 29th Street, with an official opening on May 31 from 6pm to 1am. Dozens of acclaimed artists from a range of countries throughout the globe have fashioned skate decks that will be available in auction. The three decks featured above are the work of the Canadian artist Sandra Chevrier. Several more skateboard decks featured in Ride for Mongolia follow:

The legendary NYC-based Futura, close-up, Gears, Black and white markers on skateboard, 2018

Toulouse, France-based Woizo, Figure – 037 Shakti, Acrylic and oil on skateboard, 2018

Bronx-based legendary graffiti artist, T-Kid, T-Kid, Spray paint and marker on skateboard, 2018

French artist Little Madi, Cactus Love, Acrylic on skateboard, 2018

You can check out all of the details for the NYC exhibit — beginning with its soft opening — here. And you can bid online here from May 29 to June 12.

All images courtesy Jean Claude Geraud

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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