Based in Brooklyn, Misha Tyutyunik aka MDOT is an accomplished painter, muralist and illustrator. His recent venture, fashioned along with a team of Groundswell youth, looms large at 11 Howard Street in SoHo. Earlier this week, we visited his studio and had the opportunity to speak to him.

When and where did you first make your mark on the streets?

Back in 1999, Wisher 914 and I hit up the water tower in Mohegan Lake in North Westchester where we grew up.  But my outdoor work is largely commissioned murals. I painted my first one for SoBro in the Bronx in 2006.  My most recent one is a collaboration with Groundswell youth at 11 Howard Street in SoHo, the site of Aby Rosen’s latest hotel venture.


You’re also a prolific painter of smaller works – from works on paper to paintings on huge canvasesHave you exhibited your works in gallery settings?

Yes!  I’ve exhibited throughout NYC in a range of spaces from CATM in Chelsea and  Tambaran on the Upper East Side to a variety of alternative venues.

Do you have a formal arts education? And was it worthwhile?

Yes, I have a BFA in Design and Illustration from Pratt. And, yes, as I learned how to problem solve through creative means.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

I spent my first seven years in the Ukraine, and was definitely influenced by social realism. Other influences include: graffiti in its heyday; Japanese prints; abstract expressionism; traditional mural painting and German expressionism.


What about artists? Any particular influences?

Among the many artists whose aesthetic has influenced me are: Diego Rivera, Klimt and Egon Schiele.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I used to prefer working alone, but lately I’ve become more open to collaboration. I recently collaborated with Chris Soria.

If you could collaborate with any artist – alive or deceased – with whom would you collaborate?

Picasso – all day every day – and Max Ernst.


How does your family feel about what you are doing?

They love it!  None of them are artists, but they all love what I am doing!

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

Pretty much all of it.

Is art the main source of your income?

Yes, the money I earn from commissions, along with income from teaching mural-making and art sales. I’ve also begun working on fashion design.


How you feel about the role of the Internet in this scene?

It’s everything! Without the Internet I’d be nowhere.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished work?

I think so. But the question is: Is anything ever really finished?

How has your artwork evolved in the past few years?

By leaps and bounds! I’m much more comfortable than I used to be with different styles. My visual language has become more confident.


As your work on the streets is largely commissioned murals, have you run into any conflicts with street artists or graffiti writers?

On occasion.  While painting a commissioned wall down in DC, for example, I was approached by graffiti writers who told me that the wall was theirs. When I explained to them what I was doing and they saw my work in progress, they came around.

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

I see my role as to reflect on our times, while bringing a strong aesthetic sensibility back into a largely conceptual realm.

What’s ahead?

Everything! Taking over the art world!


That’s quite ambitious! Are there any particular projects we can look forward to?

I am currently painting an anti-gun violence mural in conjunction with BRIC, and I will soon begin working on a mural with Groundswell youth at Stapleton in Staten Island. And opening tonight and continuing through March 31 is The Internal Muse, a selection of my new paintings at Melet Mercantile at 84 Wooster Street in SoHo.

It all sounds great! Congratulations!

Interview conducted by Lois Stavsky with Tara Murray

Photo credits: 1 & 2 courtesy Lindsey Brown McLravy | SLATE PR; 3, 5 & 6 Lois Stavsky; 4 Tara Murray 

Note: Hailed in a range of media from the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available here for Android devices.

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This is the tenth in an occasional series of posts featuring the range of faces have surfaced in NYC public spaces:

Chilean artist Otto Schade with JMZ Walls in Bushwick, Brooklyn


Luis Rosenfeld in Bushwick, Brooklyn


Brown Boyz — Don Rimx, Ricardo Cabret, LNY, Alex Seel and Mata Ruda — in Bushwick, Brooklyn

brownboyz-Don- Rimx- Ricardo- Cabret-LNY-Alex-Seel-Mata-Ruda-street-art-nyc

Dasic with the Bushwick Collective on Manhattan’s Lower East Side


Sonni in Bushwick, Brooklyn

sonni-faces street-art-nyc

Mast and Logik with the Welling Court Mural Project in Astoria, Queens


Beau Stanton with the L.I.S.A Project on Manhattan’s Lower East Side


Chris Soria, lead artist, with DonChristian Jones and Groundswell youth in Brownsville, Brooklyn — since 2013


Note: Our highly acclaimed Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Photo credits: 1, 2 & 6 Lois Stavsky; 3 – 5 Dani Reyes Mozeson; 7 & 8 Tara Murray


This is Part III in an ongoing series of posts featuring politically and socially conscious artworks that have surfaced on NYC streets:

Kingbee and Tito Na Rua take on gentrification in the Bronx


Hanksy‘s famed portrait of Donald Trump in Downtown Manhattan


Groundswell youth  — with lead artist Danielle McDonald and assistant artist Jazmine Hayes — in Bed-Stuy 


Hunt Rodrigues on the pavement in Bushwick

hunt-rodriguez-bushwick-pavement-art copy

Sophia Dawson  on Myrtle Avenue — with quote from Assata Shakur — for Black Artstory Month


Photo credits: 1 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 2, 3 & 4 Tara Murray

Note: Our highly acclaimed Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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This is the eighth in a series of occasional posts featuring the range of faces that surface in NYC open spaces:

Dasic in Bushwick, Brooklyn


Rimx and Ricardo Cabret — in progress for NY Street Gallery — on the patio outside Exit Room NY, in Bushwick, Brooklyn


Long-running ECB in Bushwick, Brooklyn


Jordan Betten in Midtown Manhattan

"Jordan Betten"

Alice Mizrachi in Bushwick playground

"Alice Mizrachi"

Long-running Chris Soria  — created with Groundswell youth — in Red Hook, Brooklyn

"Chris Soria"

FoxxFace for the LISA Project in Little Italy, Manhattan


Sexer for the TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx


Photos: Dasic, Jordan Betten and Chris Soria by Dani Reyes Mozeson; all others by Lois Stavsky



We were introduced to Esteban del Valle’s remarkable talents a number of years back at 5Pointz. We’ve since seen his deftly crafted artwork in Bushwick, the Lower East Side, Red Hook, Welling Court and recently at the 21st Precinct Art Exhibit.  And in addition to forging his own artwork, Esteban has been sharing his skills and vision with youth this past summer in Brownsville, Brooklyn.  Last week, the mural created by 17 young men in Groundswell’s Summer Leadership Institute, along with Esteban and his assistant artist, Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, was officially unveiled.  Located at 417 Junius Street on the wall of the Food Bazaar Supermaket, it represents the best possible model for public art. At the mural’s dedication ceremony, I had the opportunity to find out from Esteban a bit more about this particular project, P. I. C. T. U. R. E. S Prison Industrial Complex: Tyranny Undermining Rights, Education and Society.


This mural is quite amazing. When did you begin working on it?

We began on July 2nd.

Can you tell us something about the process?

We spent the first two weeks researching the issue, discussing the justice system and designing our representation of it. The final four weeks were devoted to painting the mural.


Why this topic?

It’s of particular relevance to this community. We see this mural as a way to raise awareness and provoke discussion about the subject of the prison industrial complex. Some of the youth involved in this all-male Making His’tory mural team have had first-hand experience with the way the justice system functions.


How have the young muralists responded to this project?

The response has been great. We’ve had many intense discussions and we can all walk away with a sense of accomplishment.

What has this experience been like for you, personally?

It was very exciting. And it was great for all of us to see an idea executed into a reality.


Have you any personal message?

With these tools (pen and paint brush in hand), you can change your life and your community.

Elijah Barrington, one of the project’s participants, added the following to our conversation:  We sweated every day to get this wall to look the way we wanted it to. I felt focused and happy, and I learned so much. I’m already looking forward to the next project.

Brief interview and photos by Lois Stavsky



Working together with Groundswell teens who had been affected by Hurricane Sandy, Swoon has been busy gracing the famed wall at Bowery and Houston with an elegant Sandy-themed mural.  The mural’s official unveiling takes place tomorrow, Tuesday, October 29th.  Here are some images of the work in progress:





Another close-up


Groundswell youth at work


Swoon +

The mural as seen on Thursday

Swoon and Groundswell youth

Photos 4 and 5 by Tara Murray; all others by Dani Reyes Mozeson


Currently based in Brooklyn, Chicago native Esteban del Valle is an interdisciplinary artist whose public artworks have surfaced in NYC, as well as in Chicago, IL, San Antonio, TX, and Kansas City, MO. We first came upon his extraordinary work at 5Pointz in Long Island City, Queens.

Esteban de Valle

When and where did first get up?

I was in junior high school back in Chicago when I did my first tag on a school bench.  I was soon hitting the back of K-Mart and piecing under nearby bridges.

What inspired you to hit the streets? Have you any early graffiti memories?

I was in sixth grade when I saw a legal wall in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village that was all graffiti.  I thought, “Wow! I want to do something like that!”

Back in Chicago, did you paint alone or were you part of a crew?

Both. Just about all the guys I went to school with were into hip-hop. We called ourselves FYM (Free Your Mind).

What percentage of your time these days is devoted to art?


Esteban del Valle

Is art, then, the main source of your income?

Yes, I sell studio work. I do commissions and I work for Groundswell, an organization that engages youth in creating community murals.

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

They’re fine as long as what I do is legal.

Any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

I love both.  But what I especially love about street art is that it inspires people to take to the streets to do more than just their names.

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

It’s fine. Artists need to make a living from their work. But once it’s in a gallery, it isn’t “street art” any more.

Esteban del Valle

Why do you suppose graffiti is held in higher esteem in Europe than it is here in the States?

For the same reason public intellectuals are valued in Europe.  There’s a greater appreciation of culture, in general. And the Europeans have different notions of public space.

How do you feel about the role of the Internet in all of this?

It’s great. It makes art accessible to so many.

Have you a formal art education?

I have a BFA in Art History and Painting from Southern Illinois University and a Masters Degree in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design.

What inspires you these days?

Innovative music and performance art are my main inspirations.  The Mars Volta and Geo Wyeth come to mind.

Esteban del Valle

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Hip-hop and Chicago’s rich mural culture.

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

I don’t like to work from sketches. I’d rather sketch on a wall. But much of what I do has to be pre-approved, and so I need to have a basic drawing of what I plan to paint.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece? 

Yes. I push it until I feel satisfied.

How has your work evolved through the years?

I’ve begun to develop my own language. I’m more experimental and I’m more about moving to do what challenges me.

Esteban del Valle

Any favorite artists?

Many. Among them are: Carrie Moyer, Haig Aivazian, Jayson Musson, Trenton Doyle Hancock and Dave McKenzie.

What about those who work in public spaces?

Os Gemeos and Poser aka Pose MSK are among my favorites.

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

To challenge and to contribute to the collective thought.

What’s ahead?

More art. More income from art. More traveling and, generally, doing what I want to do.

Interview by Lois Stavsky. All photos courtesy of the artist, except the first one at 5Pointz by Lois Stavsky

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