graffiti art

Two long walls along a parking lot on Těšnov Street in Prague’s New Town – the largest of Prague’s four historic districts — have long served as a legal open-air graffiti gallery. The crisply executed piece pictured above was painted by the prolific Every Tag Counts for the Montana Grafficon jam held earlier this fall. Several more images that I captured along the wall — while visiting Prague last week — follow:

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Spord UFO — painted for the Montana Grafficon jam 

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Turbo

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Photos: Lois Stavsky

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Tracing the emergence of graffiti from an underground subculture into a legitimate profession, Duality: A Graffiti Story — directed by Ryan Dowling — focuses on the struggles and successes of five noted graffiti artists. In the Buffalo 8 documentary feature film, legendary writers Meres One, Dual, Sloke, Jaber and Never1959 share their challenges and ventures as they reflect on their personal journeys in this ever-evolving culture.

Many graffiti writers — who were initially deemed as vandals for their tagging and illegal interventions — now earn wide recognition and respect for their stirring murals that grace cities across the globe. Their aesthetics have made their way inside and outside a range of upscale properties from luxury hotels to major corporations — who court them to enhance the “coolness” of their brands.

Once working mainly clandestinely, these artists now foster community, as they share their talents openly with others — who are eager to learn from their skills or simply observe and photograph them as they paint. And as their artwork begins to blur the lines between graffiti, urban art and fine art, it also increasingly finds a home in galleries.

Among the film’s recurrent themes is the artists’ addiction to getting up and their deep love for graffiti. “I’ll probably never ever not want to write my name on something. It’s an addiction for sure,” states Dual. “It’s amazing that there’s that opportunity to bridge the gap from doing illegal graffiti to doing commercial work with big companies.”

Among the many highlights of Duality: A Graffiti Story is the account of the vast achievements and horrific demise of Long Island City’s 5Pointz— as related by its curator and founder Meres One and advocate Marie Cecile Flageul.

Several screenshots from the riveting documentary follow:

NYC-based Meres One, founder and curator of the iconic graffiti mecca 5Pointz — whose talents continue to make their way onto walls, huge canvases, lightbulbs and varied corporate settings.

On the site of citizenM New York Bowery hotel where Meres painted this stained glass-inspired piece

Houston, Texas-based Dual, best known for his wheat pastes — whose body of artwork includes everything from meticulously-made tape collages to sign painting to huge commissioned murals that beautify cities

Dual, The Rice Box River Oaks Mural

Austin, Texas native Sloke — who, in addition to painting, curating and mentoring youth — has produced murals for a range of companies including Apple, Facebook, Nike, Google, Red Bull and Time Warner

Sloke mentoring young man on the art of graffiti

West Coast-based Jaber (ala El Ninja Blanco) — who has been making his mark on the streets since the early 9o’s and now does — among other things — design for major fashion companies and film sets

Jaber, Along the tracks

Los Angeles-based Never1959 — who is best-known for his large scale murals on buildings around Los Angeles

Never‘s 50-foot high mural that parodies the 1958 Orson Welles film noir “Touch of Evil” 

The premiere of this splendid homage to graffiti will take place tomorrow, October 19th, in Austin, Texas. And beginning Oct. 21, it will be available on Amazon Prime, AppleTV/iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, and YouTube movies.

And you can check out the trailer below:

All images courtesy Buffalo 8 

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Earlier this summer, several members of the OTM Graff Crew brought their spectacular skills to Bushwick, where they fashioned their distinctly impressive rendition of  Jurassic World Dominion. Featured above are the talents of Cortes and Scope against a background created by Cortes, Meres, Albertus Joseph and Topaz. Several more images captured from the huge production follow:

Cortes against collaborative background, closer-up

Meres, 5Pointz founder, who spearheaded this production

Austin, Texas-based Sloke One

Close-up  from collaborative background 

NYC-based Image

Boston-bred Qwizm

NYC-based Geobany

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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Curated by COPE2, “Subway Art Legends,” a dynamic mix of artworks created by those icons who “rocked the trains” during the subway era of the early 80’s, continues through Tuesday at One Art Space in Tribeca. The tantalizing image featured above, China Red N.Y.C, was fashioned by the legendary Delta2 with acrylic, spray paint and paint markers. Several more infectiously rhythmic works on exhibit follow:

Bronx native TKid 170, “Old School,” Circa 1989, Redo of a classic

 Brooklyn native Dome, “NYC Subway Panel,” Enamel on metal

Bronx native Bom5, “Graffiti,”  36 x 24 in.

 Manhattan-native Part TDS, “Delta Blue,” Multimedia canvas, 12 x 16 in.

Bronx native and “Subway Art Legends” curator Cope2, “Salsa,”  36 x 36 in.

 London-native Wane One, “KNOWS,” 24 x 48 in.

Located at 23 Warren Street in Tribeca, One Art Space is open daily 1-6pm.

Photos of artworks, Lois Stavsky

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Yesterday afternoon, James Top Productions brought live painting, art vendors and a host of performances to Jackie Robinson Park in West Harlem. Despite the intermittent rain, the infectious positive energy was palatable from blocks away. Featured above is Queens-based writer and illustrator Topaz, standing alongside his iconic character.

Veteran graffiti artist and painter Wore One alongside his masterly-fashioned hip-hop character

Moving solo to the beats in front of King Bee’s iconic bee

The prolific, gifted New Jersey-based artist Will Power and his portrait of the late “King of Style” Case 2 aka Kase2

And just hanging–as the day wraps up: Vision, Will Power, Eric Orr and Jerry Maze

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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Launched in 2009, Welling Court Mural Project has transformed Welling Court and its surrounding blocks in Astoria, Queens into a welcoming, wondrous open-air gallery. Under the curatorial direction of Alison Wallis, a diverse range of artists are now busily bringing their talents and visions to Welling Court in preparation for this weekend’s festivities. When visiting on Monday evening, I came upon several artists at work and a few newly fashioned murals. Pictured above is artist, curator and arts educator Alice Mizrachi with spray can in hand. Several more images follow:

Style master Noah TFP at work

The renowned Greg Lamarche aka Sp.One

Thailand-based artist Headache Stencil

The legendary Lady Pink, close-up from her almost-completed mural

Another detail from Lady Pink’s hugely impressive and uplifting mural

Japanese artist Shiro brings new vibes to her old spot

These next few days will bring many more artists to Welling Court culminating this weekend in a two-day festival. Featuring live painting a  marketplace and more, it will take place June 25 and 26 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 11-25 30th Avenue.

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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The Second Annual Troutman Rock has once again brought some of  NYC’s most intriguing writers together for a riveting first-rate production in Ridgewood, Queens. The image pictured above features the skills and visions of  FCEE, Nic1 and Curve. Several more murals follow:

French artist Seb Gorey, Homage, In Memory Of Kings

The legendary Greg Lamarche aka Sp.One

Queens-based style master Carlo Nieva aka Diego 127

The ever-ingenious Queens-based Chip Love aka Whisper

The amazingly skilled veteran graffiti writer Strider

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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Whether viewed outdoors or indoors, Kenny Scharf’s infectious aesthetic is always a delicious visual treat. Currently on view at TOTAH on Manhattan’s Lower East Side is WOODZ ‘N THINGZ, a series of dazzling paintings that delight our senses and heighten our consciousness as they reflect the ecological threats our natural world faces — while suggesting alternative ways of dealing with its fragile state.

Pictured above is WOODZ, fashioned in 2022 with oil and acrylic on linen within a powder coated aluminum frame. Several more images from the legendary artist’s second solo exhibition at TOTAH follow:

ZPRUNGZ, 2022, Oil and acrylic on linen with powder coated aluminum frame, 70 x 90 inches

Kelp Us, 2022, Oil, acrylic, spray paint & silk screen ink on linen with powder coated aluminum frame, 48 x 60 inches

WORLDZEND, 2022, Oil and acrylic on linen with powder coated aluminum frame, 70 x 90 inches

PHILIPS TIME TO GO, 2022 Oil on Phillips flat screen TV, 20 x 30 x 5 inches

Located at 183 Stanton Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, TOTAH is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11AM to 6PM.

Photos of images:  1 & 3 Lois Stavsky, 2, 4 & 5 Atlas Torres 

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The following post is by Newark-based arts educator, writer and photographer Rachel Alban

I returned this past Saturday to the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ to revisit On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey which remains on view through this Sunday, February 27. Curated by Lois Stavsky with my assistance, it is “the first museum exhibition to examine the duality of New Jersey artists whose creative versatility extends from the street to the studio.”

Working with Lois on this exhibit was meaningful on so many levels. It gave me the opportunity to connect with artists throughout NJ after a year of living almost entirely virtually. And introducing some of our favorite artists to new audiences and presenting them in such an elegant setting was especially wonderful.

The above photograph featuring a couple viewing a detail of Rorshach‘s huge mural was taken this past Saturday. Several more photos follow — some captured this past weekend, and others as far back as late summer.

Flemington-based artist James Kelewae aka Luv One to the left of the Newark-based duo Rorshach

Jersey City native Will Power, segment of his mural “1984,” a throwback to his childhood

Multidisciplinary artist Clarence Rich to the left of Jersey City-based Emilio Florentine

Newark-based Layqa Nuna Yawar painting the US golden dollar coin depicting a representation of Sacagawea and her son

The late Newark-based legendary multidisciplinary artist Jerry Gant, a segment of a special installation of his works

Jersey City-based Mr Mustart’s strikingly intriguing mural captures this visitor

Noted stencil master Joe Iurato to the left of Jersey City-based artist and arts educator Catherine Hart

New Brunswick native RH Doaz with a glimpse of Catherine’s mural

Located at 6 Normandy Heights Road in Morristown, NJ, the Morris Museum is open Wednesday – Sunday, 11:00AM to 5:00PM. Just a few more days remain to check out On and Off the Streets: Urban Art Jersey

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by the Joseph Robert Foundation and Loop Colors.

Photos: Rachel Alban

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Clarence Rich has been enriching the streets of Jersey City for over a decade. His impressive multi-faceted body of both street art and studio art ranges from curious characters to poignant portraits of family members to harmonious rhythmic pattern. I was delighted to feature his infectious aesthetic in the exhibition On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey that continues through this month at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey. An interview with the artist follows:

When and where did you first get up?

When I was 13 or 14. In 1997, I had my first real tag.

Had you any preferred surface back then?

Anything and everything around me.

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

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s in Jersey City, I saw graffiti everywhere. Along with skateboarding and playing basketball, kids were always writing their names, tagging… It’s almost as though everybody’s older brother did graffiti – including mine. He’s two years older than I am, and he has been my partner since the beginning. I wrote LOSER as my tag. and he wrote DZEL, and together we started the AIDS (And It Don’t Stop; Alone In Deep Space) crew. And there were a few main people getting up in the neighborhood who were amazing. Among them was T.DEE. He was the founder of Undercover, the first graffiti magazine.

What about the name Loser? How did you come up with it?

We used to hang out in the parks and sit on the stoops. And one of our neighbors walked by and saw the graffiti and said, “What kinds of losers do this shit?”

Do any early graffiti-related memories come to mind?

There were just so many amazing things that changed my life. Meeting so many great artists who inspired me. That was a blessing. But here’s a story: We’re also rappers. Our original rap group was called AIDS — Adolescents In Dire Straits; Alone In Deep Space…We started tagging it on walls, but we never thought it would go anywhere. And so once we started our crew, then we had to switch our rap name to the “Animal Crackas.”

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I’d rather collaborate because my crew is so amazing. It’s now 20 years old.

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

Rembrandt.

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

I’m right in the middle. We’re bridging it. We’re not just graffiti writers. We are evolving. Many of us are transitioning from graffiti to street art to fine art. And we do all three. Some of the most amazing writers are also fine artists.

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

I’m so happy! I’ve put together amazing shows in galleries for these past ten years. But to hang in a museum? Even that word! It’s huge for an artist.

What about the corporate world? How do you feel about street artists and writers collaborating with corporations?

Let’s get their money. I got this two-year old. I have to make money, and I don’t want to always have a day job working with fire alarms. I want to be an artist who paints whatever it is I want to paint whenever I want to paint it.

How do you feel about the role of social media in this scene?

I’m just trying to ride the wave. If you’re not on it, you’re missing a big audience.

Have you a formal art education?

Yes. My mom encouraged me to get one. I studied Fine and Commercial Arts at DuCret School of the Arts in Plainfield, NJ. It was the best thing I ever did in my life. It helped me find out who I was. But it’s also in my blood. My grandparents worked as animators for Terry Tunes, and my grandfather was one of the animators for Beavis and Butthead.

How would you describe your ideal working environment?

I’d paint anywhere. I just need time to paint! Now that I’m a dad, I get up most mornings at 4 – just so that I could have time to paint.

What inspires you these days?

For now, my son inspires me. Becoming a father was the ultimate change in life. I want to be a good man, and provide for him and his mom.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Hip-hop, 100%.

Is there a central theme that ties your work together?

I’d have to say “family.” I’ve always been inspired by my mom and the women in my life, and just painting a woman is a beautiful connection to women. I can paint any female face and it becomes familial to me.

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

When I work on walls, I let it flow. I just freestyle.

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

Never. I’m never satisfied with anything!

How important are others’ reactions to you?

It always feels good when you hear people say that they like your work.

How has your work evolved through the years?

It’s moving in the direction of fine art.

Have you any preferred colors?

Blue. Why? Picasso. And there’s more. I take pride in myself that I don’t use fancy paints. I don’t put tips on my cans. I just go to Home Depot or the hardware store and I buy the colors they have. And the color blue has so many variations.

What media do you currently most enjoy working with?

Most of my work is mixed media.

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

They’ve influenced each other. They’ve both evolved. Sometimes I feel more comfortable painting with a brush. But I want to do both. I want to make money from fine art and still paint on the streets.

 

How has your artwork evolved in the past several years? And how does your studio work differ from your street art?

I keep pushing it as an artist. My body of work is constantly evolving. When I work in my studio, I do it in smaller increments in multiple sessions. When I do a piece on the street, it usually takes me a day. And I haven’t yet broken into doing large-scale portraits in my studio with spray paint. I’ve done a few, and I’d like to do more. And sometimes things just happen. Like I stumbled upon creating patterns, and people really like them. I think they’re among my best work.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits:  1 & 2 Sara C Mozeson; 3 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 4, 6, 7  & 8   Rachel Alban

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