mural

Celebrating five years of Underhill Walls — the model community art project spearheaded and curated by Jeff Beler — “What’s Your Sign?” recently surfaced at the corner of Underhill Avenue and Saint Johns Place.  Featured above is Jeff Beler — standing to the left of his mural, adjacent to BLJ ‘s . Several more images from “What’s Your Sign?” follow:

North Carolina / NYC-based BLJ creates a passionate, assertive Aries, the ram — the first astrological sign in the Zodiac

Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo‘s Sagittarius and Savior Elmundo‘s Scorpio

Paulie Nassar designs an alluring Gemini

Visual artist and producer Megan Watters honors Ruth Bader Ginsburg with an elegantly balanced Libra

Brooklyn-based Justin Winslow fashions a mesmerizingly playful Aquarius

And Brooklyn-based Subway Doodle adds a bit of playful sarcasm

Photos of images by Lois Stavsky

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five8-street-art-Montreal

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.

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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

"Maya Hayuk"

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.

Dasic-and-Rubin-street-art-Bronx-NYC

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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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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