OG Millie

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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Under the curatorial direction of Will Power, over two dozen artists — representing a diverse range of cultures, backgrounds and aesthetic styles — have transformed First Street Green Art Park into a mecca of socially and politically conscious mural art.

The image featured above — depicting the late George Floyd — is the work of the hugely talented artist and curator Will Power. Several more images captured at First Street Green Art Park follow:

Painter and muralist Albertus Joseph depicts Sitting Bull

And Albertus Joseph with Will Powercaptured by photogtapher Chris Vanberkim aka Berky

Brooklyn-based Bianca Romero pays tribute to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

And Bianca Romero — captured at work by Berky

Phetus88 playfully brings a serious message to us all

La Femme Cheri and OG Millie — captured at work this past Sunday by photographer Ana Candelaria

The impetus behind this project, states Will, is to encourage people to get out there and vote. And in collaboration with Anthony Bowman (pictured below), a POP UP GET OUT THE VOTE / RETAIL STORE has been set up — adjacent to First Street Green Art Park — on 35 E 1st Street.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4, 6  & 8 Lois Stavsky; 3 & 5 Berky and 7 Ana Candelaria

Note: Be sure to check out Part II of this post on Thursday.

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Some of the most intriiguing walls in town can be found on Atlantic Avenue and Hinsdate Street — directly off the L train’s Atlntic Avenue stop — in East New York.  It is where graffiti writers and street artists convened this past weekend in the spirit of unity. Featured above is old school Uptown/Bronx writer Clyde adjacent to fellow Ex Vandals’ member Will Power. What follows are several images I captured earlier this week:

Will Power posing in front of his rendition of Biggie

Albertus Joseph checking out his work before adding final touches

Graffiti meets fine art in Col Wallnuts’ abstraction

Long Island-based Phetus 88

Ex Vandals Ree and Kool Kito

Staten Island-based La Femme Cheri

The legendary Part One

OG Millie does Muhammed Ali

Keep posted to our Instagram for more images of graffiti and street art that surfaced last weekend in East New York. And, reports Will Power, we can look forward to a new set of walls — of both graffiti and street art — next month in the same location.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Self-described as a “NYC-based visually impaired Street-Pop artist with a vintage flair,” the lovely OG Millie primarily fashions infectious portraits of iconic international figures. Ranging from the Buddha to Biggie, they are customarily painted with brilliant hues onto vintage decorative mirrors, exuding a distinctly enchanting aura.

A wonderfully diverse sampling of the artist’s portraits were exhibited this past Wednesday at a reception held at Long Island City’s magical Paper Factory Hotel, celebrating the Queens launch of LG USA Mobile‘s impressive, new five-camera LGV40 ThinQ. Pictured above is OG Millie‘s rendition of the Buddha. Several more images follow:

The famed Brooklyn-based rapper Biggie Smalls

The legendary American rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix

The German-born brilliant physicist Albert Einstein

And all eyes upon her  — or the phone capturing her! –as she intently begins to paint live

Note: You can see the final piece painted live by OG Millie here.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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I stopped by HG Contemporary‘s impressive new gallery space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn yesterday as several artists were busy at work preparing for tonight’s official launch.

After checking it out, I had the opportunity to speak with Sean Sullivan who, along with Harris Lobel, has curated the gallery’s opening exhibit:

This space is ideal, and the artwork looks wonderful! How did the opportunity come your way to curate this exhibit for HG Contemporary‘s grand opening here in Williamsburg?

Last month, Philippe Hoerle-Guggenheim, the founder of HG Contemporary in Chelsea, approached me and asked me if I would be interested in curating an exhibit along the lines of First City, the one I’d curated awhile back in Long Island.  I saw it as a great opportunity to give artists I admire a chance to exhibit alongside the fine artists who generally show at HG Contemporary.

How did you decide which artists to include?

That was difficult, as I would have liked to include many more. I chose artists with whom I’ve successfully worked with in the past, along with five others whose artwork I’ve admired, but with whom I’ve never worked. The final selection was a joint decision between me and Harris Lobel, who was involved in curating, along with me, the First City project. We were interested in showcasing the works of artists whom we believe deserve wide exposure.

I’m familiar with several of the artists — especially those whose work I’ve seen on the streets. Several, though, are new to me. Who are the artists that you both agreed to include in this grand opening?

Our final selection included: Albertus JosephZimer, Gumshoe, Jenna Krypell, Jason AckermanFridge, Jenna Morello, OG Millie and Reso 914.

There’s quite a diverse range of styles here. Had you a specific theme in mind?

We were interested in representing the various elements associated with street art and graffiti.  And so we sought a mix of images, words, letter technique, characters, color and flow.

What were some of the challenges you faced in seeing this through?

As an artist who doesn’t like taking directions, I wasn’t all that comfortable giving directions to others. But it was something that I had to do. And it was difficult asking artists to put a halt to all that they were doing for two to three day, so that they could devote themselves for hours on end to this project.

I’m certain that many artists who worked with you in the past were disappointed that they weren’t included in such a significant exhibit.

Definitely! I was getting too many nasty direct messages. Dealing with that was another huge challenge. Of course, I would have loved to include more artists, and I do hope to include many others in future exhibits that I look forward to curating in this space.

In addition to the works painted directly onto the walls here, what else can visitors to the gallery expect to see?

All of the artists who are partipating will also exhibit works on canvas that are for sale. And in addition to the artists that Harris and I have brought in, HG Contemporary will be presenting a special installation by Franz Klainsek and works by Tim Bengel and Carl McCrow.

And how can folks who can’t make it to the official grand opening see the exhibit?

The gallery is conveniently located at 66 North 3rd Street off Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn .All are invited to visit the gallery during its regular opening hours.

Images

  1. Albertus Joseph
  2. Layer Cake
  3. Zimer
  4. Gumshoe
  5. Jenna Krypell
  6. Jason Ackerman & Fridge
  7. Jenna Morello
  8. OG Milli
  9. Reso 914

Interview and photos by Lois Stavsky

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

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Ben-Angotti-Biggie

Continuing through tomorrow, Sunday, at the Bishop Gallery is 20 Big Years, an artistic tribute to the late Biggie Smalls. Presented by Spread Art NYC, it features works in a range of styles by over a dozen of our favorite local artists. Pictured above is a portrait of Biggie painted by Ben Angotti. Here are several more images from the exhibit:

Danielle De Jesus, Untitled

Danielle-dejesus-biggie

Danielle Mastrion, Crook from the Brook

danielle-mastrion-biggie

OGMillie, Biggie Smalls

OGMillie-king-of-NY

Fumero, Grafsfract Biggie

fumero-painting-Biggie

A particular highlight of the exhibit is the collaborative piece by Rocko and Zimer, who had painted the now-iconic Biggie tribute mural on Bedford and Quincy. You can check that one out out — along with over 20 other tribute pieces — through tomorrow at the Bishop Gallery, 916 Bedford Avenue in Bed-Stuy.

rocko and zimer-street-art-NYC

Photo credits: 1-5 from 20 Big Years, Tara Murray; 6 Lois Stavsky

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