graffiti art

Opening this week in Wynwood, Miami is the Museum of Graffiti, the world’s first museum dedicated solely to graffiti art.  Fostering an understanding of the work of the pioneering graffiti artists, who started tagging in the New York subways in the early 1970s, the museum’s permanent exhibition, under the curatorial direction of Alan Ket, features paintings, photographs, mixed media sculptures, assorted memorabilia and interactive installations “that will allow visitors to travel through time and learn about the evolution of the worldwide graffiti art movement.”

Featured above is veteran all-city writer Charles Henry aka Flip One, captured back in the day by graffiti writer and photographer Flint Gennari.  Several more photos, taken by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad while previewing the Museum of Graffiti last week, follow:

Museum co-founder and lead curator Alan Ket

Vintage spray paint cans 

NYC-based writers Ghost aka Cousin Frank and Giz

Graffiti pioneers Mare139, Blade, Ero, Sonic Bad and Lady Pink

Masters Mare139Doze Green, Defer and JonOne

Defer , closer up

And the branding of the art form

Also featured at the Museum of Graffiti’s inaugural exhibition is a special exhibit showcasing works by Amsterdam-based calligraffiti master Niels Meulman a.k.a. Shoe. Open daily, except for Tuesday, from 11am to 7pm, the Museum of Graffiti is located in the heart of Wynwood at 299 NW 25th Street, Miami. And in addition to what is housed and takes place indoors, the exterior boasts a range of rotating murals by first-rate graffiti artists.

Photos: Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad 

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The wonderfully talented Menace Two and Resa Piece have merged their sensibilities and skills to fashion a captivatingly stunning array of murals that have made their way not only throughout NYC, but across the country. I was delighted to have the opportunity meet up with them in their Bushwick home that they’ve aptly titled “Street Art Sanctuary ” — a spacious  graffiti/street art haven that Menace and Resa also host as an Airbnb. 

When and where did you first get up? And what inspired you to do so?

Resa: I started in 2015. The first wall I ever did was in the Bronx, but I painted mostly in Brooklyn at the time – often in Bushwick. What inspired me to? While I was living in Flushing, I used to regularly ride past 5Pointz on the 7 train. I thought it was all so amazing. I remember thinking, “Why would someone do this?” But it was awhile before I actually did it!   The sense that I had something to prove – that a female could create artwork on the same level as any established male artist — also drove me.

Menace: I was in the 7th grade in a local Queens public school. I was always drawing on my desk — anime at the time. One of the kids sitting next to me said I’d be good at graffiti. He introduced me to graffiti, encouraged me and invited me to join his crew, BTC. That was the beginning. I was 12 years old.

You’ve both painted in both illegal and in sanctioned places. Which do you prefer?

Illegal. Painting “without permission” is far more validating!

Have you exhibited your work in gallery settings?

The streets are our gallery.

What about the increasing engagement of street artists and graffiti writers with the corporate world? Would you consider such a collaboration?

It depends. No one can dictate to us what can or cannot do.

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

Our job is to bridge it! It’s all about respect.

What is your main source of income?

Painting commissions.

Did you have you a formal art education?

Resa: I did not attend a specialized art college, but at Binghamton, I majored in both Art History and Studio Art. I will always remain grateful to the late Professor George Dugan for his support and encouragement.

Menace: I studied Graphic Design in college, but I never graduated.

How does your family feel about your passion for art?

Resa: My mom initially fostered it. She enrolled me in art classes when I was eight years old. But then when I wanted to go to an art college, her response was, “You’re too smart to be an artist.” And so she encouraged me to go into the art business. But after interning at Christy’s and working for a collector, I came to understand that the art market is driven by billionaires. I know now that I want to focus on creating my own art and not marketing other artists to the richest 1 per cent. And at this point, my mom understands and respects what I’m doing.

Menace: They intensely disliked my passion for graffiti. I was often getting into graffiti-related trouble in school, and any time my parents saw me writing graffiti, they’d scream at me.  They couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t just “draw something pretty.” My father and I fought just about every day. But my parents have since come to accept me. It helped that in honor of our mothers we painted a mural featuring a tiger mom embracing her cub for the Boogie Down event at the Bronx Zoo for Mothers Day, 2018.

When you paint in public spaces, do you work with a sketch-in-hand or just let it flow?

We generally work with Photoshop mock-ups.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece? 

Generally, we are.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

100 %.

Have you any other interests or passions?

Resa: Not many.

Menace: Video games.

Are there any particular cultures that have inspired your aesthetic?

Hip-hop and New York flavor, in general.

Who are some of your favorite artists? Artists who have inspired you?

Resa: There are so many – BK Foxx, Royyal Dog, El Mac, Meres, Jerms, Topaz, Seen, Skeme

Menace:Reach Eight, Glossblack, Revok, Saber, MSK

How has your work evolved in recent years?

It’s gotten much better. While touring the country, we felt we had to prove something at each stop!

In your cross-country venture — #paintloveacrossamerica — you hit several key cities from Philly to LA painting a range of spectacular murals — some with permission and others without. Does any particular memory stand out?

When we had reached LA, we asked an established street art organization to help us find a legal wall. When assistance didn’t come our way, we found — on our own — one of the largest walls in the heart of the LA  arts district. When the cops rolled up, we didn’t know what to expect, but they expressed appreciation for our work. And when the owner came by, we convinced him that we are in the process of beautifying his property. The final mural — one of our favorite ones — is a visual representation of our collective prayers.

No doubt that what hat you painted was a gift  — however ephemeral — to the city!  What’s ahead?

More painting, of course! And our ultimate goal is to create a community center that serves as a base for us to teach painting and mural-making skills to others.

That sounds wonderful! And thanks for sharing your talents and visions with so many of us.

Images:

1 “Madonna Menace” in Bushwick, JMZ Walls

2 Close-up of Resa and Menace captured at work in Bushwick, JMZ Walls

3 “What a Wonderful World,” portrait of Louis Armstrong, in Esst Harlem, GrandScale Mural Project

4 “When the whole world is silent/Even one voice becomes powerful,” portrait of Malala in Bushwick

5 “Believe in the Reality of Your Dreams,” in Bushwick

6 “Real Eyes Realize Real Lies,” portrait of Tupac in Wynwood

7 “Protect,” Unsanctioned mural in LA’s arts district

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1-3 Lois Stavsky; 4 & 5 Ana Candelaria; 6 & 7 Courtesy of  Menace and Resa

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Brimming always with color, craft and attitude, the walls that surface at Hackensack’s Union Street Park — under the curatorial direction of Darrius-Jabbar Sollas — are a graffiti lover’s heaven. The mural featured above was painted by the hugely talented Sade TCM. Several more images captured last week follow:

The legendary Part One

Bronx-based Sienide

Graffiti master Soze 527

The prolific Wore One

Brooklyn-based Johnny Samp

And fellow Brooklynite Fargo

Wide view — as dusk approaches

Located at 97 Union Street in Hackensack, NJ, Union Street Park is a 30 minute drive from NYC.

Photos by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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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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Some of the most intriiguing walls in town can be found on Atlantic Avenue and Hinsdate Street — directly off the L train’s Atlntic Avenue stop — in East New York.  It is where graffiti writers and street artists convened this past weekend in the spirit of unity. Featured above is old school Uptown/Bronx writer Clyde adjacent to fellow Ex Vandals’ member Will Power. What follows are several images I captured earlier this week:

Will Power posing in front of his rendition of Biggie

Albertus Joseph checking out his work before adding final touches

Graffiti meets fine art in Col Wallnuts’ abstraction

Long Island-based Phetus 88

Ex Vandals Ree and Kool Kito

Staten Island-based La Femme Cheri

The legendary Part One

OG Millie does Muhammed Ali

Keep posted to our Instagram for more images of graffiti and street art that surfaced last weekend in East New York. And, reports Will Power, we can look forward to a new set of walls — of both graffiti and street art — next month in the same location.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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The following guest post is by photographer/arts educator Fawn Phillips aka Rachel Fawn Alban

A park in the largely residential neighborhood of Hackensack, NJ may sound like an unlikely destination for graffiti lovers, but Union Street Park is a gem. Curated by Darrius-Jabbar Sollas since 2007, its walls feature some of the best graff I have seen in some time. Pictured above are DC-based  CRI and Bronx-based Kingbee. Some more photos of the graffiti art I photogrphed this past week follow:

Massachusetts-based Mike Helz

Veteran Bronx writer Nev and Bronx native Abe

UK-based Trans1

Veteran writers Jus One, Vase One and Mad2

Bronx-native Pase

Veteran Bronx writer Jew

Union Street Park is located at 97 Union Street, Hackensack NJ

Photos Fawn Phillips 

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Based in Bari in the South of Italy, Nico Skolp is a masterful designer, graffiti writer and muralist with a particular passion for working in public spaces. As he readies to visit and share his talents with us in New York City, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to him:

You began painting on the streets as a graffiti writer while still a teenager. How has your style evolved since?

I still paint graffiti, but I am always searching for new inspiration. I’m interested in the possibility of communicating with a larger audience — one outside of the graffiti community. My murals blend shapes and colors into elaborate site-specific abstractions. Although graffiti is composed of  letters, it is more difficult to understand and more abstract than some other types of art. It is an interesting paradox!

You’ve been increasingly collaborating with other artists. What is that experience like? Is there any artist — in particular — with whom you’d like to collaborate?

I like collaborations. I like sharing visions and methods. It helps sharpen skills. If I could choose anyone with whom to collaborate, I would definitely say MOMO. His works are so interesting!  I admire his research and his experimentation.

Have you a formal art education? 

I graduated  with a degree in Industrial and Communication Design. In fact, I feel more like a designer than an artist. In 2006, I set up a visual arts and design agency, Ff3300.

Do any particular graffiti/street art memories stand out?

There is no one memory — in particular — that stands out. But I feel that my crew — Sorry Guys — contributed to the growth of a new generation of writers. Younger writers often enthusiastically tell me how much we have influenced them, as they grew up following us. It is an honor to think that I have inspired other writers, as  others — who came before me — inspired me.

When you paint in public spaces, do you work with a sketch-in-hand or just let it flow?

It depends. If the work is a commission, frequently I must first produce a sketch. Otherwise, I don’t, but I do seek inspiration beforehand. I used to work spontaneously, but recently, I’ve been using a method based on the rules that represent my style. It was from my style that the software open-source — based on shapes that are controlled by certain variables — was conceived. With these, you can make infinite compositions. You can download the software here. I designed it with Piero Molino, a close friend — an engineer who works for UBER in San Francisco.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

In general, yes! I’m satisfied, but I’m always striving to improve. Technically, I think I’m at a good level, The skills I have acquired have boosted my self-confidence. I’m happy with my life choices.

Have you exhibited your work in gallery settings? 

I’ve never had a solo exhibition. I’ve just contributed canvases to some graffiti exhibitions such as the one held at the 2010 Meeting of Styles in Tessalonica, Greece.  I’ve been thinking recently about showing in a solo exhibition and hopefully start with one in Bari. I love this city and it is where it all started for me. It has recently become a hub for tourism, and I love the idea of making a cultural contribution to it. 

What’s ahead?

I just finished my latest work in Matera, the 2019 Capital of Culture in Europe, and I’m heading now to  New York City, where I’d like to explore its urban art culture and make a contribution — why not a wall? — to the city! I will make myself available for any opportunities.

Yes! That would be wonderful!

Note: Nico Skolp can be contacted via his Instagram or his email nicoff3300@gmail.com.

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

Featured images:

  1. Matera, Italy
  2. Bari, Italy
  3. Bari, Italy
  4. Corato, Italy
  5. Matera, Italy

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Showcasing a huge range of aerosol art, the walls in Hackensack’s Union Street Park brim with bold hues and swooping patterns. Under the curatorial skills and direction of NJ-based Darrius-Jabbar Sollas aka Nasty Neo, they frequently rotate — especially during the spring and summer months. While visiting on Friday, I captured the artworks that had been painted over Memorial Day weekend. Pictured above is a segment of one wall — featuring Wore One, TSK, Close, 2 I’ll and Buc 1. Several individual pieces — as seen throughout the park — follow:

Veteran writer Wore One — in honor of his son who is serving in the military

Buc 1 goes bold

Bronx legend Terrible TKid

The masterful Sade TCM

The legendary Part One

Special thanks to Darrius for identifying all of the artists and for maintaining Bergen County’s lone graffiti Mecca! Since my visit on Friday, the Bronx Team has graced the ever-ephemeral walls of Union Street Park.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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The Spanish city of Móstoles — just several miles from Central Madrid — is home to a wild array of stylishly striking graffiti walls. Featured above are the works of  the hugely talented Spanish photorealist and tattooist Theo Magma and the masterful Italian graffiti artist Made514. Several more images painted by members of the DMC Rock Crew, along with their guests, in honor of their 33rd Anniversary follow:

DMC Rock Crew member Soda One

DMC Rock Crew members Eloy Fernandez and Ed-Mun

DMC Rock and FX Crew member Mataone

DMC Rock Crew member Roy

 Local artist Rosk and Spanish painter David Villaécija

The Crime Kings -TCK member Tsug and local artist Andres

Photo credits: 1 Sara C Mozeson 2-7 Lois Stavsky

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