mural

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Since 2013, Montreal has been hosting MURAL, an annual public art festival featuring a wonderful array of murals by both local and international artists. Here is a small sampling of what we saw while wandering on and off Boulevard Saint-Laurent this past week:

Montreal-based Five Eight, 2016

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Melbourne-based Meggs, 2016

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NYC-based Buff Monster, 2016

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Brazilian collective Acidum Project, close-up, 2016

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Chilean artist Inti, 2014

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France native Mateo, 2016

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Photo credits: 1-3, Lois Stavsky; 4, 5 & 7 Tara Murray and 6 Sara C Mozeson

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

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JPO-Crash-BR163-graffiti-street-art-yonkers-new-york

In celebration of Yonkers Arts Weekend beginning tomorrow, May 1, and continuing through Sunday, May 3, several new murals will grace Downtown Yonkers. Among these is the wonderfully vibrant one curated by Wall Works NY. Here are a few more images we captured on a brilliantly sunny day earlier this week:

John Paul O’Grodnick and Crash at work

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Daze beneath his “eye” with Nicer, Tats Cru — to his left — at work

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Nicer, BG183, Bio Tats Cru and Daze 

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Posing for a final shot

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A perfect tribute to the revitalization of Downtown Yonkers, the mural is located at 45 Main Street near Getty Square and Broadway.

Note: Standing in the first photo are John Paul O’GrodnickCrash and BR163

Photo credits: 1 & 4 Lois Stavsky; 2, 3 & 5 City-As-School intern Diana Davidova

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Groundswell

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Esteban-del-valle-and-Groundswell-youth-street-art-mural-close-up

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

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"abstrk and Miss Reds"

Last weekend, the walls in Bushwick on Moore and White Streets became the canvas for Miami-based oo4’s East Coast tour. Here is a sampling of what was seen:

Ewok 5MH

Ewok

Duel RIS

Duel

Ticoe

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Jick

Jick

Jick

Miss Reds at work and more

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Aloy

Aloy

First photo is of Abstrk and Miss Reds. All action photos by Tara Murray; all others by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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The following guest post is by Yoav Litvin, the author of the recently released Outdoor Gallery – New York City, a  book on contemporary NYC street art and graffiti. 

Today, May 29, 2014, marks the 33rd anniversary of the incarceration of Oscar López Rivera. Born in San Sebastián, Puerto Rico in 1943, Rivera moved to the United States at age 9. At 18, Oscar was drafted into the United States army, stationed in Vietnam and awarded the Bronze Star for his service. After the war, Oscar returned to the Puerto Rican community in Chicago and found it in a dire state: the community was plagued with drug addiction, vast unemployment, inadequate health care and poor education. Profoundly affected by the condition of his community, Oscar became a community organizer and activist, working towards equality.

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In a highly political and controversial trial, Rivera was sentenced to a total of 70 years in prison for numerous felonies, including seditious conspiracy for his actions resisting the forceful authority of the United States over Puerto Rico. Rivera was accused of being a member of FALN, the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (Armed Forces of National Liberation), which had been linked to dozens of bombings aimed at raising awareness of Puerto Rico’s situation. Notably, the authorities were never able to tie Rivera or any of the other defendants in the case to any bombing. In 1999, President Bill Clinton offered clemency to Rivera and 15 additional Puerto Rican Nationalist members of FALN. However, Rivera rejected the offer because it was not extended towards fellow prisoner Carlos Alberto Torres, who was subsequently released in 2010.

To mark the 33rd anniversary of the incarceration of Oscar López Rivera, Puerto Rican NYC-based artists COCO144 and Fernando Ruíz Lorenzo  painted a collaborative mural in his honor at Camaradas El Barrio in Spanish Harlem, NYC. I recently interviewed both artists:

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Why did you create this mural? What is its message, and whom do you aim to reach?

Fernando Ruíz Lorenzo: I was asked by Orlando Plaza, the owner of Camaradas El Barrio, to create a mural dedicated to Oscar López Rivera. I immediately thought of COCO144, a fellow Puerto Rican artist and friend I have worked with on multiple exhibitions since 2005. COCO’s work has always had a political dimension, and he has been an advocate for writers of the aerosol movement since its beginnings in New York City in the late 60s and early 70s. When I asked him to paint the mural, he agreed on the condition that we work on it together.

The mural’s message is ultimately for the viewer to determine. The piece we did obviously advocates for Mr. López Rivera’s release, but to COCO and me it is more. It’s an intergenerational dialogue representative of our artistic freedom; it is our inheritance as sons of the Puerto Rican diaspora in New York City and the world. My hope is to increase awareness about Oscar López Rivera’s case and reach the younger Latino youth in the city. As Puerto Rican artists and writers in New York, we have been instrumental to the development of the city’s progressive social-fabric since the industrial boom of the late 1800’s. We continue that historic legacy, but instead of rolling cigars or sewing clothing, we’re creating art.

COCO144: Eternal (Fernando Ruíz Lorenzo) approached me with the idea of painting a homage to Oscar López Rivera and, in turn, I asked him to collaborate. I feel that painting the mural at Camaradas El Barrio is another vehicle of reaching out to the public and, specifically, the establishment’s patrons. Its message is that after 33 years of incarceration, Mr. López Rivera should be set free.

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How does Oscar López Rivera’s legacy affect your life — in general — and your artistic practice, in particular?

COCO144: I draw parallels with the legacy. First, there have been a number of Puerto Rican nationalists who have been treated in the same manner — or worse: Don Pedro Albizu Campos, Lolita Lebron, Oscar Collazo, and Alejandrina Torres, to name a few. As a Puerto Rican, their treatment carves into my soul. That they are restricted in expressing their national pride contradicts the US constitution and its foundations. Artistically? Everything in life affects me on that level!

Fernando Ruíz Lorenzo:  Since my early childhood, my father taught me the history of Puerto Rico and its colonial relationship with Spain and the United States. It’s a lifelong dialogue. We would discuss it while I was sorting my baseball cards. It’s part of our condition as human beings. Oscar López Rivera is another political prisoner in this long colonial relationship, but he is still alive! We have a chance to help free him and continue to fight for the freedom of all political prisoners who strive towards a just and democratic reality. Engaging my history is part of my artistic practice. Without it, my work would not exist in the same way and I would not be the same person.

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What do you perceive as the role of art and creativity within NYC’s Puerto Rican community?

COCO144: There shouldn’t be restrictions for art and creativity for Puerto Ricans — or for anyone — in NYC or anywhere. Puerto Rican artists have organized and created workshops/institutions for the arts in communities like El Barrio, Loisaida (the Lower East Side) and Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  We have, also, done so in other parts of New York, the United States and the world.

Fernando Ruíz Lorenzo: Art and creativity are at the very center of our culture. Art is our embassy. Arte es nuestra embajada. As Ana Lydia Vega, the Puerto Rican writer, once wrote, “Literature and art in Puerto Rico have to take the place of embassies and consulates…” Our artwork has been the embassy and consulate in New York and throughout the world. Art and creativity were at the center of the writing movement in New York City. Puerto Ricans contributed to the establishment of the writing tradition at its inception. We developed the art form and continue to propel it forward. One example is the artist Jean Michel Basquiat. Of Puerto Rican and Haitian heritage, he started as a writer in NYC and developed into one of the most influential artists in the world. Art and letters are our specialty, and they’ve travelled beyond the walls, trains, galleries and museums to become a global phenomenon — the foundation of a whole global industry and community. There’s not one writer in the world who can’t trace his/her roots back to New York City. It’s in every line of a writer’s signature, handstyle, tag, or piece. It’s our legacy.

A LA LETRA, an exhibit featuring new works by COCO144 and Fernando Ruíz Lorenzo, will open on Sunday, June 8, 6-10 pm at Camaradas El Barrio‘s Emperial Gallery. The artists’ new mural honoring Oscar López Rivera will be officially unveiled at the opening. 

You can check out Yoav Litvin’s interview with COCO144 here.

Photo of the two artists in front of their mural by Yoav Litvin; mural close-up, completed mural and Camaradas at night by Vin Zarate.

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"Maya Hayuk"

With luscious colors and spirited strokes, Maya Hayuk has brought her distinct visual rhythms to the wall on Houston Street and the Bowery in Lower Manhattan.

Earlier on

"Maya Hayuk paints"

Maya takes a break

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Close-up of completed wall 

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The completed mural with its delicious drips

"Maya Hayuk"

Photos by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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Meres

Last Saturday, Meres painted his first mural since the demise of 5Pointz.  His canvas was the outside wall of rag & bone, the trend-setting fashion store — on Elizabeth Street off Houston — that has hosted some of downtown’s finest murals. It’s great to see Meres and his iconic light bulbs back where they belong – with all of us. Here are a few more images captured last Saturday:

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Meres takes a break

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And leaves a message

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Photos by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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Speaking with Dasic Fernández

November 29, 2013

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Chilean artist Dasic Fernández has been captivating us with his sumptuous styles since we first met him up in the Bronx, while painting a bus in collaboration with Cekis. We recently caught up with him in Newburgh, New York, where he’d been busy at work transforming the city’s visual landscape.

When and where did you first get up?

I was 13 when I started tagging in Rancagua, Chile.

What inspired you?

The hip-hop scene! Graffiti was part of the movement. And I knew how to draw – so that was my way into it.

Dasic Fernandez

Have you any early graffiti memories?

Nothing specific!  Just hanging out late with my best friend and bombing.

What percentage of the time is devoted to your art?

One hundred percent! If I’m not doing it, I’m thinking about it or dreaming about it.

Any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

Everything I’ve learned about painting on the streets and appropriating space I learned from graffiti. I never felt any tension between street artists and graffiti writers. I still use the same fat cap to paint as did to tag.

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

I respect it only when artists have had long courses in the streets first and continue painting in the streets once they’ve shown their work in galleries.

Have you exhibited in a gallery?

I had my first solo exhibit in Santiago, Chile in 2009.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I’d rather work by myself. I feel more comfortable, and I can take my time.

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

I don’t use it much. I feel like graffiti belongs on the streets. At first, I didn’t even photograph any of my works. But when a graffiti book came out that didn’t include any of my work, I decided that I had to.

Do you have a formal arts education?

I studied architecture back in Chile, but I quit less than a year before earning my degree.

What is your ideal working environment 

The streets. That’s where I feel most comfortable. It is my natural environment. I love connecting with people while I’m painting outside. It makes me happy.

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Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetics?

The mural culture in South America and Chile’s political murals, which are poetic and graphic. And I have also been influenced by hip-hop culture.

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

When I’m commissioned to do a wall, I generally have to have a sketch. But other times, I’ll simply photograph the wall before I paint it

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

Never! Sometimes I’m close to being satisfied, but I’m never completely satisfied. I’m far too critical.

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How have your work evolved throughout the years?

I paint on a bigger scale and I use more colors.

Any feelings about photographers?

They used to bother me, but now they don’t. I still don’t like, though, when they upload photos of unfinished pieces.

Why do you suppose the art world has been so reluctant to embrace street art and graffiti?

Because it’s the most powerful graphic movement out there.

Dasic-and Logek-street-art-and-graffiti-Bronx-NYC

Where have you painted?

I’ve painted throughout Chile and in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Peru and in Canada. And in the US, I’ve painted in Chicago, Texas, Michigan, and New York.

Have you any preferred spots or surfaces?

I like when a wall has context to spare, so that it can assume an identity through a mural.

What’s ahead for you?

Many personal projects with different timelines. I’m working now on completing a series of commissioned walls and canvases. I’m then planning to return to Chile and work on a book featuring my artwork. Then – more walls and an art festival that I’m organizing in New York and probably a solo exhibit.  Basically I’ll keep flowing, painting and traveling.  And there’s more!

Interview by Lois Stavsky with Tara Murray; photos 1. with Okuda and Rubin in Bushwick by Lois Stavsky; 2. in Bushwick by Tara Murray; 3. with Rubin in the Bronx by Tara Murray; 4. in Newburgh school by Lois Stavsky; 5 & 6. in Newburgh, NY by Lois Stavsky 7. with Logek in the Bronx by Tara Murray.

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Swoon

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:

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Neenee

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Another close-up

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Groundswell youth at work

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Swoon +

The mural as seen on Thursday

Swoon and Groundswell youth

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

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The new FABnyc sidewalk mural, fashioned by Ecuadorian artist Raúl Ayala, is among our favorite public artworks to surface this year. On one of our many visits to Extra Place in Manhattan’s East Village, we had the opportunity to speak to the amazing artist.

When did you start creating art?

When I was a child, I had difficulty sleeping at night.  My mind was plagued by hallucinations, and I would panic. My parents didn’t know what to do with me. Then we learned that what I was experiencing is known as hypnagogic hallucinations, a kind of somnambulism.  A doctor told my parents that in earlier times, this condition was considered a gift. So to fight the fear of night, I began to draw.

And what happened to the hallucinations and panic attacks?

They stopped.

Raul Ayala

Wow! Did you go on to study art in a formal setting?

Yes. I studied Visual Arts at the university back home in Ecuador. I graduated in 2007.

Was your education helpful?

These days my art reflects mostly what I learned after I graduated, but the formal education that I received gave me the opportunity to teach, and I love teaching.

What inspired you to get up on public spaces?

While teaching inmates in Ecuador’s prison system, I came up with the idea of using the prison walls as a canvas. I see walls as the ideal canvas – as they are a metaphor for separation – all kinds of separations…social, economic, physical.

What about graffiti? When did you start doing graffiti?

I went to Argentina for one year to study painting.  There the walls are filled with graffiti. When I returned to Ecuador, I began doing graffiti with a spray can. I always preferred the brush, though, and I consider myself a muralist more than a graffiti artist.

What is the attitude of your parents towards your life as an artist?

At the beginning it was difficult for them. But now, they see me happy and productive, and they’re great about it.

Raul Ayala

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

Just about all of it. During the day, I work as an art handler for a Chelsea gallery to pay my bills. Other times, I do my own art.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I like to work alone, but I also love working with others. I have collaborated with D*Face and Liqen, along with many other friends and partners in crime. I love the challenge of collaboration, and I think it’s the best learning experience an artist can have!

Do you work with a sketch, or do you let it flow? 

I always have lots of sketches, but I’m not faithful to them.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished work?      

No.

Raul Ayala

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

Once art goes into a gallery, it becomes merchandise. It’s all about money. The power of graffiti is its relationship with the city and the people.  I see graffiti as a means to communicate with others and as social commentary.

Have you exhibited your work at in any gallery spaces, and how did you feel about it?

My first solo exhibit was at Arteactual FLACSO back home in Ecuador. I did it with the understanding that I could paint all the walls in the gallery. And then we sold prints. I feel that we artists have to take advantage of all the spaces available to us, and if we are going to use a gallery, we have to find a way to question that private space. I prefer outdoor walls, because my mission as an artist is to visually and intellectually engage a broad community of people.

Are there any particular cultures that influence your aesthetic?

Yes. Pre-Columbian and other Ecuadorian nationalities and cultures like the Shuar and Waorani from the Amazon Jungle, and Valdivia and Chachi from the coast.

Raul Ayala

Any favorite artists or influences? 

I have lots of influences — many that do not come from visual arts.  These days I am obsessed with the writer Roberto Bolaño, and I am also reading about the Reconstruction Era here in the USA. Among the younger visual artists I like are:  Liqen, Hyuro, Escif and Vazco Basko. The more mature ones include: Dennis McNett and  Miguel Varea.  Some of the dead ones are:  Guadalupe Posadas, Guaman Poma, Francis Bacon, el Bosco and los Muralistas Mexicanos. Tattoos and Brazilian Pixacao are other movements that I observe. In terms of music, I am more of a death metal head but I am, also, into Latin American music, specially old tunes.

What brought you to New York City?

I was living with my girlfriend in Ecuador, and she needed to move back to the U.S. to get her citizenship. We tried the long-distance relationship thing, but that didn’t work so well. So I decided to move here.  We are now staying in New York City, and I am experiencing first-hand what it’s like to live and work as an immigrant. And we recently got married!

What is your impression of New York City?

I have only been here  for a year and a half, so I am still pretty new in the city,  Although I have found friends and support, I feel it’s a hard city. I see it as a rich playground, with the rich players blind to the workers behind the scene.

Raul Ayala

How does the street art/graffiti here in NYC differ from that back home in Ecuador?

The graffiti writers in Quito are very experimental. Also, one almost never gets arrested back home. There is a bit of a stigma to the use of the spray can, and so a police officer may stop you if you are using one. But graffiti is not regarded as a criminal act!  You know that you can talk to the police, and they may leave you alone. You still need to be very careful and fast, but there is more freedom to paint in the streets in Ecuador than here in NYC.

Tell us something about your current project.

I’m working here at Extra Place with James Rubio from the Antagonist Art Movement on a FABnyc sidewalk mural. Inspired by a poem Dee Dee Ramone wrote about Joey soon after his death, it features wild creatures, representing punk rockers, carrying a dragon cloud — a symbol of Joey’s spirit. This mural is a tribute to Arturo Vega. It could have never happened without his influence and support.

What’s ahead?

I am a Fellow for the Create Change Professional Development Program at the Laundromat Project.  I’m learning how to work with socially-engaged art here in NYC.   I’m quite excited about this. I am looking forward to producing artwork in my current neighborhood in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. I will keep you posted! Also, I am participating in the exhibit For Which It Stands at The Lodge Gallery at 131 Chrystie Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.  Curated by Keith Schweitzer and Jason Patrick Voegele, it opens tomorrow evening — Friday, June 28, 6-9pm and continues through July 28.

It sounds great! Good luck!

Photos by Tara Murray and Lois Stavsky

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