recycled art

A self-described “graffiti glass artist,” Zees speaks about his past ventures and his current project.


When did you first get into graffiti?

A little over ten years ago. I was about 10 when I started tagging War. But I needed to change names a few times to avoid the law. Eventually I found Zees.

What got you into it?

I grew up in West Orange, New Jersey, and I always saw graffiti on the highways when we drove anywhere.  I liked what I saw.

Who are some of your favorite writers – the ones who inspire you?

The Italian writer, Zin aka Bes, Sen2, Dr. Sex and PK Kid.


Have you any memorable experiences from your early writing days?

I was in sixth grade when I got arrested for writing on a huge sprinkler house in a golf course on Essex County property.  It was the first time I ever went on a “graffiti mission!”

What is the riskiest thing you ever did? And why?

Hanging at the end of a cliff on a two-inch platform about 400-500 feet in the air. It’s a prime spot off a highway. That’s why!

How did your mom take all this?

She didn’t like it – but these days she’s really happy with what I’m doing.

Could you tell us a bit about what you are doing these days?

I recycle pieces of mirrors, stained glass and assorted found materials into 3-D graffiti pieces.


That must be quite a process! How do you manage to find such an abundance of mirror and stained glass remnants?

They’re the leftover pieces that surface regularly from my uncle’s business, the Artique Glass Studio, in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

Wow! I’m glad they are getting put to such good use! Have you studied art on a formal level?

No. I’m self-taught. I’ve always been doing art of some kind as long as I can remember. But nothing has been as addictive as graffiti.

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

I think it’s great. Graffiti is a compulsive activity, and it gives us writers something to strive for.  It offers talented graffiti writers the chance to get the recognition they deserve.


Any thoughts about the role of the Internet in all this?

I love it. I get to see what everyone else is doing.

How do you spend your time when you are not involved in your current project?

Skateboarding, making music and building stained-glass reptile cages.

What’s ahead?

I’d like to continue what I’m doing – mastering the techniques and producing high-quality work. I look forward, too, to seeing my work in galleries.

Zee’s first solo exhibit opens tomorrow evening, April 23, from 7-10pm at Sapphire Lounge, 249 Eldridge Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

 Photos by Dani Mozeson and Lois Stavsky 


LNY Is Back in Manhattan

March 13, 2013

We love having LNY back in our borough. We’ve missed him. And thanks to Keith Schweitzer and FAB, he’s back! Here are a few images captured form the wondrous wall that he recently fashioned on East Second Street.

LNY in action

LNY paints in East Village

The morning after

LNY mural in NYC

 Close-up with recycled trash bags!

LNY street art- close-up

And this past weekend was a special treat for us LNY fans, as his artwork could be seen at the Fountain Art Fair, as well. Here’s a sampling of images — all fashioned on recycled materials:

LNY at Fountain art fair


LNY portrait

Photos by Tara Murray 


Michael Cuomo

Working with discarded objects he finds on the streets, Bronx-native Michael Cuomo has been busily creating an alternate universe.  Central to his cosmos are dozens of masks that he displays in a range of public spaces, engaging curious passersby of all ages.  We joined Michael this past Sunday up near Yankee Stadium.

You do magical things with what others have discarded.  When did it all begin?

The idea of working with found objects came to me after I took a three-hour class in “drawing with wire” at Bronx Community College back in 2006. I made my first masks with wire. And as I’d always been drawn to objects that others deem useless, I began to search for these objects and gradually incorporate them into my masks.

You certainly have some strange objects integrated into these masks – from car parts to broken toys to old hats. How do you manage to get hold of such a variety?

I find most of them on the streets, and recently friends and neighbors have begun giving me “donations.”

Michael Cuomo

When recycling these materials into masks, do you work with a defined concept of the final product?

Never.  It’s an organic process. When the mask is finished, it tells me so.  I have dozens of sketchbooks and constantly draw, but I don’t consciously work from my sketches.

What engages you about recycling and working with found objects?

It reminds me that we are all one on this planet.  The objects that I find help connect me with others – their original owners and our anscestors. I also feel that by recycling I am – in some small way – helping our planet.

Why have you decided to share your masks with the public out here on the streets?

It’s the best way for me to connect with the people. My art is “for the people” and “by the people.”  When strangers see my art and engage with it, they break the monotony of their daily lives. I also like the dialog that it spurs.

Michael Cuomo mask

Where have you displayed your masks?

I’ve shared them in quite a few public spaces. On 110th Street in East Harlem…in front of the Hayden Planetarium on the Upper West Side…on the 6 train.

What about galleries?

I’ve exhibited them at NYU, Gallery 69, at the Longwood Art Gallery up here in the Bronx, and I have a show coming up later this spring in New Rochelle.

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

They like it, but I can’t say they embrace it!

Michael Cuomo

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

I see the artist’s role as a transformative one. Art enlightens. My art is an extension of the hip-hop movement that was born here in the Bronx. It is all about empowerment and change.

What’s ahead?

My artworks will continue to evolve and — eventually — will travel the world.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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"Lorenzo Masnah"

For the past several years, the young Colombian artist Lorenzo Masnah has been culling images of human rights violations, national tragedies and global disasters from a range of international magazines and newspapers. These images – recycled, recreated and screen printed by the artist – have made their way not only onto public spaces, alternative settings and galleries, but also into a series of hand-made books, Nuevos Tiempos.

"Lorenzo Masnah"

Lorenzo Masnah’s most recent book, Hard Times/Tiempos Difíciles focuses on natural disasters and presents haunting images of lost and frightened people in the face of tragedy. We recently had the chance to speak to Lorenzo, who is based these days in NYC and is at work in the East Village on a number of political murals.

The images in your book Hard Times/Tiempos Dificiles are quite disturbing. Why did you choose to create a book with images that focus on life’s bleaker side?

When disaster struck in Haiti in 2010, I was particularly moved by newspaper photos that revealed the facial expressions of the Haitian people in the wake of tragedy. I began collecting these images and mounting them throughout my living spaces. They seemed to speak to me.  At about the same time, heavy rains struck Bogota and, again, I was drawn to the facial and bodily expressions that surfaced in the printed media, as they reflected what I was seeing as I walked around the city at the time. The following year, I was on the West Coast when heavy rains struck again.  Reworking images I collected and self-publishing them was my way of honoring those people struck by unforeseeable disasters that could happen to anyone at any time. It is also my therapy.

How did you go about selecting the images that you include in the book? 

I have endless boxes filled with images I collect that engage me either politically or emotionally.  From time to time I review these images and I categorize them. Then, I choose my favorites. Those are the ones I include in my books.

"Lorenzo Masnah"

Tell us something about the process of publishing these books.

After I select the images that I want to include in the book, I dissect and rework them – often with lines and elements influenced by graffiti – and then I screen print them.   When I’m satisfied with my selection of images, inks and colors  — with feedback from folks at my local deli — I bind the pages with cardboard covers, recycled from boxes I get from nearby restaurants.

What motivates you to keep working on this particular project?

My intent is to give new meaning to news that is generally discarded at the end of each day. I see what I’m doing as a long-term project – recreating visual narratives that speak about and to a range of people across the globe. I am interested in preserving memories.

Masnah’s books are available directly through the artist at His prints, along with those by other members of APC — the Animal Power Crew that  Lorenzo co-founded with Stinkfish back in 2006  — are available at Mula Printing.  Photo of Lorenzo with book by Lois Stavsky.