graffiti

I recently had the opportunity to speak to BedStuy Walls Mural Festival founder and chief curator Miki Mu about the hugely successful community arts festival held earlier this month on Lexington Avenue and Do the Right Thing Way in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

This is all so wonderful. What was your initial inspiration for this project?

This is my neighborhood. I’ve lived in Bed-Stuy for over ten years. I was interested in celebrating and beautifying my neighborhood. And I know the huge power of art to uplift a community! I also wanted to create a space where people and businesses in my neighborhood could interact. My vision for this particular project began about a year ago.

How did you secure these walls? They are in such a prime spot, and these murals have totally transformed the entire block.

My neighbor introduced me to the owner of one of the the businesses on the block. But there were many challenges to actually securing these walls. It was not an easy task!

What were some of these challenges that you encountered in seeing this project through?

After I did secure the walls, I had to get a permit to close the block for the day of the festival. The walls and sidewalk had to be primed in advance. I had to purchase supplies. The entire project was quite expensive. I set up a Go Fund Me, but I did have to cover most of the expenses myself.

You have here such a wonderful range of artists here — from legendary graffiti writers to noted contemporary urban artists to newer emerging ones. How did you get the word out to the artists?

We started an Instagram account, and the word quickly spread. So many artists expressed interest in participating — far more than I could have imagined. I still get requests!

How did the community respond to the event?

The response was tremendous! The community loved it! Families came out, and there were so many kids…jumping rope, dancing to the hip-hop music, making art and simply having fun! It was wonderful — actually better than I had anticipated! But I never could have done this alone; there were many folks whose generosity made this possible. Among them are: Chateau Brooklyn for serving as our mothership, headquarters and base; Badman Bus aka Cookie Monster Bus for providing music and a sound system; all of the DJ’s for volunteering their talents; Cheryl Foy, a retired teacher and resident of the block, for helping us secure the block permit and Joe Cirano from Rogers & Sons, the owner of the walls; the Blue Bus Project for providing activities for the kids; Radial Park for lending us ladders; Project Barkada, also, for lending us a ladder and scaffolding; Solidarity Movers for helping us move all the equipment from one location to another  and for providing, as well, a fun activity for kids;  Black Men Build, Black Chef Movement and Josiane Lysius for providing free food; Loop Colors for adding extra cans to our order; Frankie Velez, my co-curator, for assisting and supporting my efforts in every aspect of this project, and, of course, all of the artists for generously sharing their skills and visions with us.

What’s ahead?

I would like to make the BedStuy Walls Mural Festival an annual event and eventually attain non-profit status.

That would be wonderful! Congratulations!

Images

1. Carlos Rodriguez

2. Jason Naylor

3. Chelsea Garcia to the left of Manuel Alejandro

4. Will Power

5. Belowkey

6. Andre Trenier to the left of Megan Olson and Olga Correa

7. Nac 143 (left), OG Millie (center),  Bom5 with character by Miki Mu (right)

Photo credits: 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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From September 15 – 18, an all-female team of urban artists — local, national and global — brought their skills and visions to 49 Wyckoff Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

The stunning image featured above was fashioned collaboratively by project curator Herakut (pictured) and Miami-based Didi Contreras. Several select images — all captured by by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad — follow:

Brooklyn-based Lexi Bella, who assisted the project’s curation (top), and local, mixed-media artist Isabelle Ewing

New York-based interdisciplinary artist and educator Alice Mizrachi

The legendary Ecuadorian-American graffiti artist and muralist Lady Pink

London-based Spanish artist Lours

NYC-based graphic designer and muralist Queen Andrea

Brooklyn-based muralist and painter Danielle Mastrion

Bristol, UK-based artist HazardOne

Special thanks to Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad for documenting this project and sharing it with us

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In this fifth post of our new series, PUSHING IT FORWARD — featuring ILLicit creatives claiming space on NYC streets — our focus now is on those bombs and throws that have surfaced in Manhattan. The image above features the markings of Spray RBV and Goog, along with dozens of tags. Several more images recently captured on the streets of Manhattan — from Chinatown to Inwood — follow:

Fat Jay

Bat, Cope2, Poke, Ollin Crew, Say No Sleep & more on the Bowery Wall

Acet

Riot

House TOS and Rom89

Mae and Dip

Post and photos by the Pushing It Forward Collective

Note: We return to the borough of Queens in our next PUSHING IT FORWARD post

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Brooklyn Art Haus aka BAH! — a new hugely impressive home for innovative artworks and events in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that will officially open in January — debuts tomorrow evening, September 9, from 6-9pm with RAWTHENTIC. Curated by Silvertuna Studios and Collect with Lulu, the premier exhibition and event features a diverse array of contemporary urban artworks by legendary artists Chris RWK, Al Diaz, de la Haba, Kit 17, Easy, Zimad and Nite Owl, along with video presentations — filmed by Silvertuna Studios — of the artists at work. Also on view will be the distinctly unique Vanderhall Carmel GTS custom-designed and hand-painted by the artists.

A small selection of images from the dynamic, brilliantly curated exhibition follows:

Chris RWK, “Built For This,” Mixed media on canvas, 24″ x 24″

Al Diaz, “For The Haters,”  Mixed media on wood, 24″ x 34″

Gregory de la Haba, Straight Red Threes, Oil, krink, and spray paint on printed canvas, 78″ x 44″

Kit 17, “Subway Days Burner,” Mixed media on canvas, 63″ X 113″

Easy, (Right)  Bronze & Gold Tag Cut Outs on Wood, 24″ x 24″ and below them, “Steel,” Mixed media on canvas, 48″ x 48″

Zimad,Area 51″, Mixed media on unstretched canvas, 83″ x 82″

And Nite Owl, pictured below with exhibition information —

The exhibition continues through September 16 from 1 pm to 5 pm. Private viewings are available by appointment. Guests can RSVP here.

Note: Be sure to check out the exhibition catalog for bios, prices and more!

Photos of artworks,  2-7,  Lois Stavsky

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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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In this third post of our new series, PUSHING IT FORWARD — featuring ILLicit creatives claiming space on NYC streets — our focus now is on those images we’ve seen in the Bronx. Considered by many as the birthplace of graffiti back in the 70’s, the Bronx continues to host a multitude of unsanctioned markings. The character pictured above was fashioned by the itinerant Z-Bird. Several more photos of ILLicit public works recently captured in the Bronx follow:

FS TMR, RB OQB, BL WDD and DEN FTR

Jigl

Text and Cous

MFK

Reboe LNE

South LNE

Post and photos by the Pushing It Forward Collective

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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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Queens is major stomping ground. It has been for generations – from the Long Island Railroad in Jamiaca. to Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights. At the turn of the century, Queen’s 7-line train, rooftops, tunnels, and streets were notorious for their graffiti. From 74th street and Roosevelt Avenue all the way up to Flushing Main Street, graffiti was rampant. But then with elected officials like Mayor Rudy Giuliani and District Attorney Peter Vallone, it became scarce. These politicians, alongside prosecutors and judges, came down heavily on graffiti writers. Years went by with very little action on the 7 line. Then came the pandemic.

While most New Yorkers secluded themselves indoors during the early months of the pandemic, an impassioned minority ventured outdoors to make their mark on the city’s newly abandoned streets, storefronts and walls.  An entire new generation of ILLicit creatives with an irrepressible urge to “get up” was born. In an ongoing new series, Street Art NYC will highlight them, while also paying homage to veteran writers who are “pushing it forward.” This first in our series — spanning all five boroughs — focuses on the markings in Queens. The image above features Real. Several more photos recently captured in Queens follow:

Anso

Boni and Kitty

Pure

Angr and Tav

Faes and Sic

MTNW

Post and photos by the Pushing It Forward Collective

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