graffiti

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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While exploring the streets of Jersey City in the vicinity of the Grove Street station off the Path train, I found myself riveted by one particular block. Along Coles and First Street, an eclectic range of graffiti pieces and street art murals rotate regularly. I was struck by their authenticity and their inherent spirit of community. I soon found out that the person behind them is Jersey City-native Wyme Santos. A man with a mission, he is the founder and curator of the community-based organization, JC Hundreds Mural Co. While visiting on a Sunday earlier this summer — when artists were busily painting — I had the opportunity to meet Wyme and find out a bit about his ongoing project:

Can you tell us something about the name of your company, JC Hundreds? What is its significance?

It all starts with one mural. And with one wall at a time, we soon have 100 murals that beautify a neighborhood. A culture can then develop that encompasses hundreds of murals.

About how many murals have you facilitated since you began this project?

In the course of two years, I’ve curated about 400 murals throughout Jersey City.

It is this block that captured my attention. How did you get the space to do this?

I reclaimed it. Once a block that had hosted a range of art and a traditional art supply store, it had become largely neglected.

Several of these artists are from Jersey City.

Yes, most are from New Jersey, and many are local, as we try to represent Jersey City’s diversity.

It’s wonderful how this space is so inviting and open. 

Yes, I like providing artists with a place to practice, paint or just hang out. I see art as a therapeutic medium.

That is the ideal! The energy here reminds me somewhat of 5Pointz, the LIC graffiti Mecca that was destroyed to give way to soulless condominiums. 

Yes! It’s about having the right energy and embodying the true spirit of graffiti.

What are some of the challenges you face in seeing your mission through?

Obtaining permissions in a variety of  locales throughout Jersey City is one challenge. I want to provide more legal spaces for artists. Art saves lives.

Can you tell us more about what you are doing in addition to curating walls?

I recently started a children’s program for mural art. We teach kids, ages 6-12, the ground rules of graffiti. They learn how they can uphold the culture, engage with the community and use eco-friendly paint. Two of them, V¡V and KüP, aka toodope_grlz, were the only kids who painted in the Jersey City Mural Festival. There are still some openings in our ongoing Summer Spray Paint Camp.

Do any personal graffiti-related memories stand out? I love your style! It’s quite distinct.

I remember meeting Rime, Nace and Sek when I was about 14. I had just caught a tag when I overheard Nace telling Sek, “You gotta write like him. You need to flow like him,” pointing to my tag.

Wow! What’s ahead?

I am working towards acquiring 501(c) status as a nonprofit organization and establishing a year-long program that engages children. And, of course, finding more spaces outdoors and indoors for artists to practice and paint.

Good luck with it all!

Images:

1 Wyme Santos in front of segment of mural by enemthagreat

2 Wyme Santos

3 John Exit

4 Byas

5 Avery

6 Ray Arcadio (L) and Distort (R) memorial walls

7 enemthagreat

8 Mr Mustart

www.jchundredsmuralco.com

10 Ree Vilomar

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1, 5, 7 & 10 Tara Murray; 2-4, 6 & 8 Lois Stavsky

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Featuring dozens of works in a range of media by the late legendary Jean-Michel Basquiat, along with artworks by several of his key contemporaries, “Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation” continues at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts through July 25. The image featured above, “Hollywood Africans,” fashioned in 1983 by Basquiat with acrylic and oilstick on canvas, portrays the artist, Rammellzee and Toxic, as it documents the time the three artists spent together in Los Angeles.  Several more of the exhibition’s highlights — as seen on my recent visit –follow:

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Anthony Clarke (aka A-One), 1985, Acrylic, oil and collage on wood

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ero, 1984, Acrylic, oilstick and Xerox collage on paper

The late multi-media artist and hip-hop pioneer Rammellzee, Super Robber, 1985, Mixed media on canvas

NYC graffiti pioneer and acclaimed fine artist Futura, Untitled, 1982, Spray paint and marker on paper

Keith Haring and LA2 collaboration, Suit for Madonna, 1984 Acrylic on leather

Legendary graffiti pioneer Lady Pink and neo-conceptual artist Jenny Holzer collaboration, Tear Ducts Seem to Be a Grief Provision, 1983-84, Spray paint on canvas

A tribute to those who “fueled new directions in fine art, design, and music, driving the now-global popularity of hip-hop culture,”  “Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation”  is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue produced by MFA Publications and edited by co-curators Liz Munsell, the MFA’s Lorraine and Alan Bressler Curator of Contemporary Art, and Greg Tate.

Photos of artworks: Lois Stavsky

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Hosting a striking array of graffiti styles, the walls off the Broadway Junction subway station teem with sumptuous colors and seductive rhythms.  The image featured above is the work of Long Island-bred artist WERD. Several more images captured on our recent visit to “the juncyard” follow:

The masterful Noah TFP

The inimitable Ceos

The dexterous Rezor — who regularly brings his curatorial skills to these walls

Stylemaster Such

Veteran writer Doc TC5

Classic writer Wore One

Photo credits:  1 & 2 A. Candela; 3-7 Lois Stavsky

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Not only was the late legendary writer Fernando Miteff — known to most of us as Nic 707 — a master of multiple styles, but he was also the founder and curator of one of NYC’s most distinctly impressive public art projects, InstaFame Phantom Art.

Beginning in 2009 until his untimely death last year from Covid, Nic 707 regularly rode the MTA trains with the singular mission of transforming their interiors into a one-of-a-kind pop-up gallery in motion. Having accompanied him on many of these adventures, I witnessed first-hand not only his boundless passion for graffiti, but his deep love for all art, as he showcased contemporary artworks in styles ranging from figurative to abstract, along with his and other writers’ tags, throw-ups and pieces.

And the response of the train riders who viewed Nic’s pop-up shows was almost always overwhelmingly positive. Many posed questions to Nic as they photographed his installations, and in response, Nic would graciously school them on the history of graffiti, its impact on contemporary art, the personal histories of the varied artists and more.

InstaFame Phantom Art (Volume 1): The Nic 707 Collection (NYC Transit Exhibition Catalog) is the perfect tribute to Nic — a paean to his creative energy and vision — and a gift to us all. Penned by his brother, Karim Miteff, it not only features dozens of images of works by Nic and by several other artists that rode the trains between 2009-2013, but it tells the story of graffiti and of Nic’s particular circumstances, including his 27-year hiatus from the culture. Much, in fact, is presented in Nic’s own words, as told to Karim.

Among the key subjects the book covers — in addition to Nic 707’s story — are: the tools writers use, the evolution of their styles, their code of ethics and the development of crews. Nic 707 was, in fact, the founder and first President of the Bronx-based OTB Crew.

And featured, of course, are dozens of images of variations of Nic’s iconic Kilroy character, described by the artist as “a kind of an entity…a presence. Even though he has no eyes, he sees all…but he doesn’t judge. He promotes love and holds the key to a silent and ancient wisdom. He represents the potential for alien intervention to help save mankind.”

Nic 707 was one-of-a-kind. He was, as his brother accurately describes him, a “Style Master. Visionary. Time Traveler.”

Writing about InstaFame Phantom Art back in 2015 in The New York Times, David Gonzalez described the project as one “with hundreds of one-of-a-kind panels that would be the envy of any urban gallery.”

I am already looking forward to the second volume of InstaFame Phantom Art: The Nic 707 Collection (NYC Transit Exhibition Catalog). 

Images:

1 Book cover, 2021

2 Black Star Bumper Car on the IRT 4 train, 2013

3 Lollipop$, 2012

4 Souls in Transit, 2013

5 Choose Your Palette, 2012

Photos 1, 3-5 Courtesy Karim Miteff; Photo 2, Lois Stavsky

Book Review by Lois Stavsky

Note: The book is available here.

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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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Bold and engaging, the murals that surface in Trenton, New Jersey are largely site-specific, many paying homage to those who call Trenton and its neighboring towns home. The image featured above — painted collaboratively in 2014 by Will Kasso, Luvonesta, Andre Trenier and Lank — looms large over a colorful playground, a short distance from the Trenton Transit Center. Several more artworks, far more recent, captured earlier this week on my first visit to Trenton follow:

Trenton-based legendary artist Leon Rainbow — two of four murals paying homage to frontline workers

Close-up

Trenton artist Dean ‘Ras’ Innocenzi pays homage to the late New Jersey skateboarder Brendan Wilkie —  one of several murals featured in the 2020 “Murals on Front Street” project, coordinated by Leon Rainbow

Philly-based Spanish artists Saoka and Imse  for “Murals on Front Street”

Austin, Texas-based masterly graffiti writer Sloke One  for “Murals on Front Street”

And Luvonesta and Lank bringing it inside to Trenton’s Starbucks, close-up from huge mural

Photos by Lois Stavsky

Special thanks to James J Kelewae for introducing me to the streets of Downtown Trenton

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One of my favorite spots in town, First Street Green Art Park continues to host — under the curatorial direction of Jonathan Neville — a wonderfully diverse mix of mural art and graffiti.  The image featured above was recently painted by Brooklyn-based Danielle Mastrion. Several more murals that have made an interim home in this now-legendary spot, where the Lower East Side meets the East Village, follow:

Outer Source aka Star Farther, another of his galactic space-scapes that continue to enhance our cityscape

Brooklyn-based Brazilian style master Primo1

Brooklyn-based Stavro 

The legendary Meres One 

Argentine artist Ramiro Davaro-Comas

Staten Island-based John Exit

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Charged with glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy in his songs, Spanish rapper Pablo Hásel was arrested and imprisoned last month. For the past several weeks since his arrest, demonstrations have erupted almost daily, and dozens of murals have surfaced advocating “freedom of expression.” While the demonstrations have, on occasion, turned violent, the street art has been a peaceful diversion.

The image above, painted by the talented Barcelona-based Catalan artist Cinta Vidal, features the rapper as he is being painted over — or obliterated — by the king.  Several more of the ephemeral murals follow:

Barcelona-based Galleta Maria depicts a double-headed snake that is preventing a woman from speaking

Graffiti writer Kader One at work painting the rapper hanging while grasping a keychain featuring a crown

Spanish artist El Edu, at work on “La Llibertat (h)a mort,” mourning the death of freedom

Graffiti writer Antón G. Seoane aka SlimROK, “Freedom or Fire”

Barcelona-based Argentine artist Zosen, “Libertad Expresion,” a call for the “freedom of expression”

All photos by Fernando Alcalá Losa; courtesy, Audrey García

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HEKTAD! Love Will Tear Us Apart, a solo exhibition featuring a delightfully charming array of new works – all on the theme of love — by the prolific NYC-based artist Hektad, continues through Sunday at One Art Space. Executed in his signature style, the works reflect Hektad’s early days as a graffiti writer in his native Bronx, as well as his recent years as a Manhattan-based street and studio artist. The 30″ x 30″ image featured above is aptly titled “Love Spray.” Several more images captured while we visited One Art Space this past Sunday follow:

My Love Is Golden, 2021, 36″ x 36″

Bear Brick, Sculpture, 20″ tall

Another Bear Brick 20″ tall sculpture

My Broken Heart, 2020, 61″ x 72″ (L) and Love of Passion Series – Red, 2021, 24″ x 24″

Wide view

Located at 23 Warren Street, One Art Space is open Monday through Friday from 1 – 6 pm,  Saturday and Sunday from 1 – 5 pm. And this Friday — beginning at 6pm — there will be a talk, book launch and signing for the artist’s first book. You can register for the event here.

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

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