photography

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We recently had the opportunity to speak with writer and photographer Yoav Litvin about 2Create, his ongoing project and upcoming book on creative collaborations.

We love your recently launched 2Create Facebook Page and Group. Can you tell us something about the concept behind 2Create? What is its mission?

The aim of 2Create is to study and promote teamwork and fellowship as it showcases the art of collaboration. Folks tend to place far more emphasis on competition than on collaboration. But so much more can be accomplished if we work together.

Icy-and-Sot-street-art-at-Welling-Court-NYC

Yes! We tend to glorify individualism, particularly in the West.

And my point is that when two people create, it is greater than two. 1 + 1 is not 2, but something more. The duo is the basic unit of a collective.  And we need to look at forming collectives as a means to solve our societal problems.

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One of your initial projects, related to this larger one, is your upcoming book, 2Create: Art Collaborations in New York City.  Can you tell us something about it?

Yes. It will be released by Schiffer Publishing this fall. It showcases the works and processes of nine pairs of NYC graffiti and street artists. Each duo consists of two artists whose unique styles came together to create a larger-than-life work of street art in a NYC neighborhood. The book focuses on the backgrounds, techniques, and collaborative processes of the featured duos.

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What spurred you to produce this particular book? What was your impetus behind it – in addition to promoting the concept of collaboration?

There were a number of factors. I was interested in expanding the documentation that I began in Outdoor Gallery New York City by getting to know more of my favorite artists – like Cekis and Rubin. But most of all, it was a project that enabled me to further develop myself as an artist by integrating my background in psychology, my passion for progressive politics and my respect and love for graffiti and street art in NYC.

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What were some of the challenges that you faced in the process?

Identifying artists who could work well together and produce first-rate artwork was the initial challenge. I also had to gain their confidence and access to their relationship so that they would speak freely about the process.  And some of the artists were quite shy – which was an additional challenge. And, then, for some of the works I had to secure walls, materials and more.

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What’s ahead for 2Create?  Where are you going with it?

I want to continue documenting and interviewing duos that work together in a wide range of scenarios: visual arts, dance, music and more!

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How can we become engaged with your project? Can we contribute to it?

You can Like the project on Facebook and share your own collabs and connect with others here. You can also follow it on Instagram and on Twitter.

It sounds great! And what a wonderful concept!

Images

1. Dasic Fernandez with Rubin 415

2. Icy and Sot

3. Cekis with Cern

4. ASVP

5. Jilly Ballistic with Al Diaz

6. Alice Mizrachi with Trap IF

7. Logo design by Dan Michman

Photos © Yoav LitvinYoav in conversation with Lois StavskyTara Murray and City-as-School intern Sol Raxlen

Note: 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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While in Miami this past week, I visited Chor Boogie‘s current exhibit, Heiros Gamos: A Vision of Feminine Power, at Wynwood’s Macaya Gallery. I  also had the opportunity to speak to its curator, Daniel Stanford.

I’ve been mesmerized by Chor Boogie‘s aesthetic since I first saw his vibrant murals on the streets of various cities several years ago. But I don’t often get to see his work in gallery settings. What spurred you to curate an exhibit of Chor Boogie‘s artworks?

Patrick Glémaud, Macaya Gallery‘s director, and I met Chor Boogie during Art Basel 2015.  After viewing several of his artworks, Patrick felt that the Macaya Gallery would be the ideal place to showcase Chor Boogie‘s distinct aesthetic. And I was pleased to have the opportunity to curate an exhibit of his works.

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What is it about Chor Boogie’s aesthetic that appeals to you?

I was taken by his level of precision and complexity. His technique is superior.

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And as is evident in his murals that have surfaced in public spaces, Chor Boogie‘s choice of colors is always brilliant.  His works consistently arouse both my senses and my mind. Just what is going on here?

These works — as the title suggests — reference a sacred union. The artworks pose the question, “Sacred or profane?” as they present a vision of feminine power. Aesthetic elements of the Rococo and Baroque periods, along with Madonna iconography, are reinterpreted through the medium of spray paint and contemporary street art styles.

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What challenges did you face in curating this exhibit? 

The works currently on display are quite diverse and also very rich. The biggest challenge was presenting a variety of distinct works in a balanced way.

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You certainly seem to have achieved that! What’s ahead for Macaya Gallery?  

Our next exhibit is a collective show featuring works by Emma DunlaveyFrançois Duerinckx and Mercedes Lasarte.  A select group of Chor Boogie‘s paintings will remain, and a series of his political works will be featured later this year.

Images:

1. Chor Boogie, The King and Eye, on the exterior of Macaya Gallery

2. Chor Boogie, Immaculate Conception

3. Chor Boogie, The Silver Queens, close-up

4. E. Bast in collaboration with Chor Boogie, The Nine Virgins, close-up

5. Chor Boogie in collaboration with Daniel Stanford, The Color Visions of Raquel

Photos: 1 courtesy of Daniel Stanford; 2-4 Lois Stavsky and 5 courtesy of Chor Boogie

Note: To find out about the inspiration behind this body of work, check out Chor Boogie Shines Love Into Macaya Gallery by Alexandra Martinez in last week’s Miami New Times.

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On view through tomorrow at 548 West 28th Street is Urban Reference, an engaging exhibit of works in a variety of media by Lorenzo Masnah, Alex Seel and Guillermo Perez.  When I visited earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak to Lorenzo.

Just what is going on here?

When an opportunity to exhibit art in this space came our way, we decided to launch a show on the theme of urban life. It is what we know best!

There seem to be a few different motifs going on here.

Yes! Alex‘s photos were shot in Colombia’s capital city, Bogota. He spent several weeks there working on a documentary focusing on the city’s street life  Highlights include: live bombing by APC members, including Stinkfish; an interview with Bogota’s legendary MC, Manny from the underground rap group, Crack Family and advice from assorted characters who dwell on the streets of Bogota.

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And what about Guillermo Perez? I love his paintings.

Guillermo Perez was born in the Dominican Republic into a family of master painters. On exhibit are his small works referencing people he’s met in the urban sphere.

How did you all three meet?

A number of years back, we shared the same living space in Bushwick — before the neighborhood became so gentrified.

Guillermo-Perez-musicians

You are continuing your series of dancers and musicians here, along with new works with a distinct urban flair and outsider sensibility.  What are your primary media?

I work with the “tools of the trade,” — Mean Streak markers and paints on a huge range of surfaces. And I find myself incorporating graffiti elements.

 How did you get the word out about the exhibit — on such short notice?

Largely through Instagram and Facebook. And, of course, we let all our close friends know.

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How can folks see the exhibit?

It will continue through tomorrow, Friday. We are on the third floor of 548 West 28th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues.

Note: Lorenzo can be contacted at thirdwolrdpirate@gmail.com to confirm a visit

 Images:

1.  Lorenzo Masnah

2.  Alex Seel

3.  Guillermo Perez

4.  Lorenzo Masnah, close-up

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1 Lois Stavsky; 3 Dani Reyes Mozeson & 4 courtesy of  Lorenzo Masnah

Note: 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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the-newstand-installation-MoMA-NYC

The Newsstand, the underground zine and visual art space that ran inside the Lorimer L/G subway station from 2013 to 2014, has been recreated for MoMA‘s exhibit, Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015,  And it is certain to delight not only fans of photography and zines, but graffiti and street art aficionados, as well! Here are a few images we captured on our visit:

Back in the day

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With fire extinguisher in hand

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Along the tracks

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The Domino Sugar Factory and more

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Lele Saveri‘s photos of commuters, tags on bills and more

the-newsstand-bills-photos and more

 Close-up

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Produced in collaboration with Alldayeveryday, the installation remains on view through March 20th. Lele Saveri and other artists from The Newsstand and 8-Ball communities will present two free zine workshops for NYC high school students next month. You can check out the details here.

Photo credits: 1 Lois Stavsky; 2 – 7 Dani Reyes Mozeson

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

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Okudua-street-art-on-Lafayette-David Sharabani-in-NYC

A huge fan of Lord K2’s photography and his outstanding book, Street Art Santiago, I was delighted to discover that Lord K2 has also been photographing NYC’s street art and graffiti.  During his most recent stopover in NYC, I had the opportunity to speak to him.

Why NYC?

Because it is the epicenter of it all.  It is where graffiti was born, and where the best artists from across the globe come to paint.

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Any distinct standouts?

Os Gemeos immediately comes to mind. But just about every artist who has painted on the famed Bowery wall is extraordinary. And the L.I.S.A Project, too, has brought so many first-rate artists to Manhattan.  My initial focus was just Manhattan because the borough attracts so many outstanding artists.

But you had begun to photograph beyond Manhattan.

Yes. I decided that I did not want to limit myself. And among the sites I’ve photographed outside of Manhattan are the Welling Court Mural Project in Astoria, Queens and the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn.

David-Sharabani-At-Welling Court Mural Project

Many of your photos are in black and white. Why is that?

Too much color in a book can oversaturate the senses. And when I capture the artists in action, I find that limiting the image to black and white often creates a more satisfying overall portrait.

Any particular inspirations among the photographers out there?

I was definitely inspired by Martha Cooper’s work. And the late Garry Winogrand’s photos of Manhattan have influenced my approach to street photography.

Geobany

How have the artists you’ve photographed responded to you?

They’ve all been welcoming and warm.

How long have you been working on this project?

I began two years ago  Taking my time allows me to photograph the new art works that arise which, in turn, allows me to curate from a larger selection.

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You spent a considerable amount of time in South America. What are some of the most striking differences between the street art scene here in NYC and what you experienced there?

I found that in South America the artists generally paint for the love of it. And making a living out of art is a bigger challenge in South America than it is here. In NYC, financial considerations come more into play, as many of the artists have more opportunities to get the attention of gallerists and collectors.  Also, in South America lines are blurred between what is legal and what is illegal. There’s a general leniency towards unsanctioned art, while here in NYC painting illegally is quite problematic.

Icy-and-Sot

Absolutely! And accessing legal walls can be quite challenging! When can we expect to see you back in NYC?

I plan to return in the summer.

That sounds great! The walls are waiting for you!

Interview by Lois Stavsky; all photos Lord K2

Images: 1. Okuda  2. Buff Monster  3. SweetCrimes  4 .Geobany  5. GumShoe & 6. Icy and Sot

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izolag-johnny

On view at BronxArtSpace is the brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed exhibit, Faces from the Block, featuring works by Brazilian artists Izolag and Ananda Nahu and Bronx-based photographer Ricky Flores. While visiting last week, we had the chance to speak to Ananda Nahu.

You and Izolag have so beautifully interpreted Ricky Flores’s photos of the Bronx of the 80’s. How did this collaboration come about?

Back in 2007, we discovered Ricky Flores’s photos of the South Bronx — the photos he’d taken 20 years earlier — on his Flickr account.  They had affected us so deeply that we were inspired to bring these people to life on our streets in Brazil.

Ricky-flores

Why do you suppose you felt such a strong connection to these South Bronx residents?

Back in Brazil, we have enormous respect for the culture of the South Bronx.  We identify it with the birth of hip-hop that has enriched our lives so much and has greatly influenced our culture.

Ananda-Nahu-Rock-Steady-crew

You visited last year and painted a mural over at the Point, and now you are back — not only to exhibit with Izolag and Ricky Flores — but to paint again on our streets. What is your personal impression of the South Bronx?

I love it. I love its energy and the wonderful cultural mix of the people who live here.

izolag-drawing

How have the folks here in the Bronx reacted to this exhibit?  As we are speaking, people of all ages are coming by to check it out.

The folks here seem to love it. Everyone has been so supportive and helpful, always wishing us well. It was quite a thrill to meet at our opening some of the actual people whom Ricky Flores had photographed over 20 years ago!

Ananda-Nahu

And what about Ricky Flores? How has he responded to this project?

He is delighted to have so deeply inspired us. It’s been a wonderful partnership.

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What’s next? What happens to this project when it leaves the Bronx?

It will travel next to Los Angeles and then to São Paulo.

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That sounds great, and we are so glad you are bringing a taste of your culture to us here in NYC.

Note: Follow StreetArtNYC on Instagram and Facebook for images of murals — sponsored by Casita Maria — that Izolag and Ananda are painting this week with youth in the South Bronx.

Photos: 1, 4 and 6. Izolag by Lois Stavsky; 2. Ricky Flores by Tara Murray; 3. Ananda Nahu by Tara Murray;  5. Ananda Nahu by Lois Stavsky & 7. Ananda Nahu and Izolag by Lois Stavsky

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Currently based in Brooklyn, New York, Genea Barnes began exhibiting her artful photography in 2005. Her current work has taken her into the streets of over 50 cities where she has photographed hundreds of ghost bikes. 

"Genea Barnes street photography"

When and where did you begin photographing ghost bikes?  

I saw my first ghost bike in Brooklyn in May 2010. It struck me. It felt like someone had punched me in the chest. That was the first ghost bike I photographed. I’ve since traveled to over 50 cities photographing them.

"Genea Barnes photography"

Why — do you suppose — you became so committed to this project?

I feel a special connection to these bikes. I am taken by their intense beauty. Their impact was — and still is — tremendous on me. They remind us of lives that were lost and they remind us to keep safe. I knew, at once, that I wanted not only to photograph them, but to share my findings with others.

"Genea Barnes photography"

Have you any particular message you would like your photos to convey?

I am frustrated by people’s lack of spatial awareness. A ghost bike represents the most grievous outcome of this. A ghost bike, like much of  street art, is a way to call people out. We must all start paying closer attention to our surroundings.

"Genea barnes photography"

Why a book?

I had always hoped that my art would make a difference…that it would raise awareness. And after my first exhibit of ghost bike images, I knew that it could. Not everyone will attend an exhibit, but anyone can check out a book and, hopefully, be moved by it.  We are so distracted by technology that we often forget to pay attention to our surroundings. And the outcome of that can be fatal.

"Genea Barnes photography"

You can find out more about Genea’s remarkable photography project here and help fund her book at her Kickstarter here.  

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Hi-Arts-alice-Mizrachi-JR-street-art

Opening this evening from 6-9pm at the Hi-Arts Gallery on 304 East 100th Street is JR’s Inside Out Mi Gente/ Oyáte kiŋ Art Project — focusing on and uniting two communities: NYC’s East Harlem and South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation. Here are a few images captured yesterday while visiting the exhibit, curated by Carlos Mare:

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Closer-up

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And more

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And outside with murals by Alice Mizrachi and Part One

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 Photos by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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Born in Argentina and now based in Brooklyn, Lucia Reissig is a young photographer and artist with a deep passion for street art and documenting the streets. I met her in late spring in Bushwick when I was interviewing the Argentinian artist Cabaio, whom she had photographed at work earlier that day.  We met again last week at Exit Room, and I had the opportunity, this time, to find out a bit about her.

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When did you first become interested in photography?

I was 12 years old and living in Buenos Aires.  I had told my mother’s friend that I was interested in photography, and he gave me a camera. It was a 35 mm Canon.

And then what happened?

I didn’t know what to do with it. And so I took my new Canon to a camera store, and the shop owner installed film for me and set it on “Automatic.” He said, “Just shoot!” So that’s what I did! And I fell in love with the art form at once.

Did you ever study photography on a formal basis?

Early on, I began visiting photographers’ studios, and I started taking classes with them. The classes were informal – with no more than five students in a class.

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What — would you say — is photography’s appeal to you? What is it about this art form that so engages you?

With a camera in hand, I feel that I am somewhat in control of my environment. And it allows me to create compelling narratives. I am obsessed with paradoxes – and recording them.

What brought you to New York City?

I felt a strong need to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone.

How has living here affected you and your passion for photography?

I quickly found myself seeking other Spanish speakers and other immigrants. And the streets became even more important to me. I see public spaces as a reflection of society.

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And what about street art?  You’ve documented hundreds of images. When first I met you, you had just finished photographing Cabaio at work over at the Bushwick Collective and you seem to be quite involved over here at Exit Room – one of my favorite spaces. What is the appeal of street art to you?

It serves as both a mirror of society and as a perfect expression of resistance. I love the way the artists take ownership of the streets, and their work on city streets looks amazing. Street art has the power to change a city – visually and psychically. It also makes art accessible to people who wouldn’t otherwise see it. It’s an always-open free museum. And documenting the art I discovered on these streets – along with its people – saved my life!

Have you any favorite artists who work on the streets?

Among my favorite ones are: Cabaio, Iena Cruz, Werc and Ever.

"Lucia Ressig"

What’s ahead for you?

Since coming to NYC, I’ve become more aware – than ever – as to the importance of community. There is a lack of community here, and there is a need for more alternative spaces where people can come together to create and to share. I am beginning an informal series of workshops on photography – similar to the ones I attended back in Buenos Aires. They are on a pay- what-you-can basis. I can be contacted at lucia.reissig@gmail.com.  And on a personal level, I am continuing a series I began earlier focusing on immigrant life here in NYC.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky. Photos by Lucia Reissig.

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"Buff Monste"

With cameras in hand, Leanna Valente has spent the past 15 months photographing graffiti writers and street artists in progress.  She now has over 400 photos signed by the artists.  I recently had the opportunity to speak to Leanna about her brilliant Instant Art Exposure project and more:

Have you any early memories of graffiti or street art?

I remember first seeing graffiti as a young child. It was right down the block — under viaducts and bridges — from where I grew up in Buffalo. I loved it at first sight!

Have you, yourself, done any graffiti?

When I was about six, I attempted some bubble letters. And I still give it a try while doodling on a napkin!

What about other art forms? 

I’ve been doing art – of one kind or another — for as long as I can remember.

VengRWK

Any particular styles or genres?

Mainly mixed-media works of acrylic, spray paint, fabric and photography.

Have you shown your work in galleries or formal settings?

I started showing in galleries in 2003 while living in Atlanta. I also showed in Miami, in Southern California, in Buffalo and at alternative spaces in Brooklyn in 2010.

Have you studied art in a formal setting?

I’m basically self-taught. I’ve studied art informally at FIT here in NYC and at the Atlanta College of Art/SCAD when I was living in Atlanta, Georgia.

Hoacs

Can you tell us something about your photography projects?

My series Extreme Fashion Window Design in NYC focuses on extreme fashion window designs in Manhattan portraying the glamour and grit of the city.  Another series Trashion focuses on the exclusive branding found in our city’s trash. And my Instant Art Exposure project documents NYC’s street art and graffiti scene.

You are obviously quite passionate about street art and graffiti. 

Yes, I have been addicted to it for as long as I can remember, and I officially started documenting it in 2007. I love its unique beauty and grand size. It’s gutsy and challenging.  Just seeing it gives me an adrenalin rush!

I can relate to that! When did you begin this NYC project?

I became avidly serious about it about 14 months ago at Welling Court while watching Kingbee paint. He was the first to sign a photo.

QA

And we all love your shots that the artists sign. It’s a brilliant concept. I wish I had thought of it myself! Did anything in particular inspire it?

Through documenting street art, graffiti and art/fashion mixes for my blog, I became even more interested in documenting the artists “in process.”  It became my way of paying respect to them and the hard work they put into each piece on the walls.  I felt that it was a unique and personal addition to the black book. And when artists began to respond enthusiastically, I continued.

Where is the project headed?

Well, people keep on asking me what I’m doing with it. Originally I was just doing it for myself. It was meant as a personal diary of photos to hang on my wall. But artists I’ve photographed and other people in the scene have suggested that I follow up on publishing a book and launching an exhibit that feature the works. And so in addition to what I do with my standard photography equipment, my primary focus now is on this project. Talks are now in the works for a series of books, gallery shows and select prints. I will never sell the originals, but I will choose, with the assistance of the artists, a select number to make into prints.

That sounds great! Who are some of the artists have you photographed?

They range from such legends as Blek le Rat, Lady Pink, Charlie Ahearn, Lee Quinones, Crash, Futura and Kenny Scharf to contemporary masters such as Shepard Fairey, Logan Hicks, Sp.One, Wane, Chris Stain, Billy Mode, Stik, Stinkfish, RWK and Icy and Sot. And I can’t imagine ever stopping!

J"oe Iurato and Rubin415"

Note: You can follow Leanna on Instagram at @leannav & #instantartexposure, in addition to her blog and her soon-to-be-launched website www.instantartexposure.com.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky.

Leanna’s photos: 1. Buff Monster 2. Veng RWK 3. Hoacs 4. Queen Andrea 5. Rubin & Joe Iurato

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