This past Thursday evening, the High School of Art & Design hosted a reception, exhibition and panel discussion honoring 20 student winners of its first A&D Subway Car Design Competition.  Soon after the event, I had the opportunity to speak to Art & Design alumnus and Old School graffiti writer George Colon aka AIM, who had invited us to this celebration of our favorite art form.


Thursday evening’s event was wonderful.  We loved the way it brought so many folks – students, alumni, faculty, parents, artists and us graffiti aficionados — together. Whose idea was it?

Two years ago, I presented the idea of a panel discussion on the theme of graffiti art to the school’s administration. Art & Design seemed like the ideal site to host such a symposium, since so many famed writers are A&D alumni.  The faculty, though, was hesitant at the time to engage in a graffiti-related event. They were afraid, I assume, of negative reprisals.


How, then, did last week’s amazing event happen?  What caused the change? Why was the school suddenly receptive? 

There were several factors. First, there was a change in the administration. The new principal is open to new ideas and programs that he feels are in the students’ interests.  And I connected with A&D alumnus, George Alonso, who was in touch with Klim Kozinevich — the designer of the All City Style Blank NYC Subway Cars. It was George’s idea that a few of us alumni offer the students a workshop in designing subway cars. Alumnus Klim Kozinevich donated the All City Style Blank NYC Subway Cars and everything else followed.


What was your original inspiration behind this? What spurred you to see it through?

I felt that I wanted to give back. It was also an opportunity to educate folks about a global art form that has strong roots in this particular school.


The panel discussion was certainly informative. George Alonso was the perfect moderator, and you, along with Spar One and Kenji Takabayashi, had much to offer.  The audience was totally engaged. Why do you suppose there seems to be so much interest these days in graffiti, particularly from the perspective of veteran writers?

As graffiti is increasingly embraced by professionals and recognized as a legitimate art form, it is more likely to spur the interest of folks who would ordinarily dismiss it.

joe-russo-tags -at-A-and-D

Yes! Once an art form becomes the subject of museum retrospectives, it is difficult to relegate it to mere vandalism! What’s ahead for you?

We are planning to continue collaborating with Art & Design. We would like to make the A&D Subway Car Design Competition an annual event, and we’d love to conduct graffiti–inspired design workshops in other educational settings.

That would be great! Good luck! 


1. First-place winner, James Dundon (design — center top)

2. George Colon aka AIM SSB signing books presented to students

3. Trains designed by A&D alumni: Kenji TakabayashiGeorge Colon aka AIM, SexerSpar One and Flint

4. Spar One with black book in hand

5. Kenji Takabayashi

6. Joe Russo

Photo credits: 1, 3 & 4 Tara Murray; 2 Todd Atkinson; 5 & 6 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky


With Sheryo and the Yok completing the missing letter — S — , the B-U-S-H-W-I-C-K mural at the Bushwick Collective is now complete. Here are some images:

Sexer at work after completing the letter ‘B.’ Letter ‘U’ by David Louf aka June1 to its right

"seder and David Louf"

 Sheryo and the Yok, the letter ‘S’

"Sheryo and the Yok"

Dasic Fernandez at work on the letter ‘H’


Billy Mode at work on the letter ‘W’

"Billy Mode"

Eelco ’Virus’ Van den Berg, the letter ‘I’, with Bushwick Collective founder and curator Joe Ficalora to its right


John Matos aka Crash, the letter ‘C’ 


Zimad at work on the final letter, ‘K’


With some additions


 Photo credits: 1, 4 & 7 by Dani Reyes Mozeson; 2, 3, 5, 6 & 8 by Lois Stavsky


This is the fifth in a series of occasional posts featuring images of children that surface on NYC public spaces:

"Jef Aerosol"

Jef Aerosol at the Bushwick Collective

"Jef Aerosol"

Jerkface in NoLita


LMNOPI in Bushwick


Kaffeine for the Welling Court Mural Project


Solus in Little Italy for the Lisa Project, close-up


Sexer in the Bronx for the TAG Public Arts Project


Photos 1, 3, 4 and 6 by Dani Reyes Mozeson; 2, 5 and 7 by Lois Stavsky


This is the sixth in an occasional series featuring images of males who surface on NYC public spaces:

Dasic at the Bushwick Collective

"Dasic Fernandez"

Connor Harrington for the LISA Project in Downtown Manhattan

"Conor Harrington"

Icy & Sot and Sonni for the Bushwick Collective


Sexer for the Bushwick Collective

Sexer-Bushwick-Collective-love 2

Damien Mitchell at Welling Court in Astoria, Queens

damien-mitchell-at-welling-court 2

 Danielle Mastrion near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx


Photos 1 and 6 by Lois Stavsky; 2-5 by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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This is the eighth in a series of occasional posts featuring the range of faces that surface in NYC open spaces:

Dasic in Bushwick, Brooklyn


Rimx and Ricardo Cabret — in progress for NY Street Gallery — on the patio outside Exit Room NY, in Bushwick, Brooklyn


Long-running ECB in Bushwick, Brooklyn


Jordan Betten in Midtown Manhattan

"Jordan Betten"

Alice Mizrachi in Bushwick playground

"Alice Mizrachi"

Long-running Chris Soria  — created with Groundswell youth — in Red Hook, Brooklyn

"Chris Soria"

FoxxFace for the LISA Project in Little Italy, Manhattan


Sexer for the TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx


Photos: Dasic, Jordan Betten and Chris Soria by Dani Reyes Mozeson; all others by Lois Stavsky


Under the curatorial direction of Tag Public Arts Project founder, SinXero, the walls on and off the 6 line in the South Central section of the Bronx have become one of the borough’s visual highlights.  Loved by both local residents and passersby, these murals, in fact, are now incorporated into an official tour of the Bronx. Here is a small sampling of what can be seen:

Marthalicia Matarrita and Raquel Echanique 


Marthalicia Matarrita, close-up

"Marthalicia Matarrita"





See TF


Col Wallnuts




Daek William — in from Australia 

"Daek William"

Damien Mitchell

"Damien Mitchell"

Billy Mode and Chris Stain

"Billy Mode and Chris Stain"

Zimad — close-up 


Keep posted to our Facebook page for many more Tag Public Arts Project images and check here for piece painted by the legendary John Matos aka Crash.

Photos by Lois Stavsky



The Tag Public Arts Project, founded and directed by SinXero, is continuing its transformation of the Bronx’s visual landscape. In addition to the alluring murals that have surfaced on the streets within the past few months, new artwork recently made its way up to a rooftop, visible from the 6 line.

Sexer (left) and SinXero at work:

"Sexer and SinXero"

SinXero pays tribute to the legendary graffiti artist Christopher Lee aka Shadow in “Shadow’s Kiss”


Sexeis “Soaring High”


And Chris and Veng RWK bring their iconic characters along

Chris and Veng

 All photos courtesy Tag Public Arts Project


These past few days have been busy at the Bushwick Collective. New walls have been surfacing daily and the Collective has launched its first indoor exhibit. Here’s a bit of what we captured yesterday and Thursday:

Vexta‘s mural — as seen yesterday — and Vexta at work here


Adam Fu at work yesterday

"Adam Fu"

Sexer‘s newly completed mural


Solus — in from Dublin — at work yesterday


 Vers at work yesterday


FKDL — in from Paris — checks out his progress 


FKDL inside the gallery


Jerkface begins

"Brian Jerkface"

Jerkface inside the gallery

"Brian Jerkface"

Also on view in the gallery — located at 426 Troutman Street — in the heart of the Bushwick Collective are works by: Blek le Rat, Solus, Rubin 415, Chris Stain, Dan Witz, Zimad, Joe Iurato, Sexer, Beau Stanton and Atom.   And at tomorrow’s block party you can see and celebrate it all with live street art, bands, food trucks, a beer tent and giveaways.

Photos of Vexta, Adam Fu, Solus and Vers by Lois Stavsky; of  FKDL, Sexer and Jerkface by Dani Reyes Mozeson; gallery images of  FKDL and Jerkface by Houda Lazrak

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Active on the streets of NYC for over 30 years, James Sexer Rodriguez has also achieved wide commercial success as a designer.  His works on canvas, fusing elements of graffiti and realism, have been exhibited in galleries in NYC, the Caribbean and in Europe. His upcoming exhibit, Urban Convictions, will feature his new works — alongside new paintings by Zimad — this Friday evening at Rogue Gallery Chelsea, 508 West 26th Street.


When and where did you first get up?

I started tagging in notebooks when I was about 10. By the time I was 13, I was hitting the walls in the South Bronx with tags. And within a short span of time, the tags evolved into pieces.

What inspired you?

My ex-brother-in-law was a writer with B.A. (Bronx Artists), and my entire neighborhood was a breeding ground for writers.

Have you any early graffiti-related memories that stand out?

We used to steal ink from the supermarket and make our own markers. I remember spilling the ink all over myself, as I was getting ready to go bombing.


Did you represent any crews?

I was president of BA (Bronx Artists); other crews I represented include OTB, SYB, SSB and12 Disciples.

Have you ever been arrested?

I was caught several times, but booked only once – for a misdemeanor for public defacing.  Basically, the police didn’t want to do the paper work, and so they just let me go. Things were different back in the day and they actually let us finish the pieces.

How did your mom feel about what you were doing back then?

My mom was oblivious to just how illegal graffiti was, but she always knew where I was going and what I was doing.


What is the riskiest thing you did?

Painting pieces in a tunnel with a one-inch clearance between the train and the wall.

Why were you willing to that that risk?

I wasn’t thinking! I was looking for fame. You couldn’t pay me to do it now!

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

About 90% of the time I work with a sketch. What I do these days is largely conceptual, and it takes planning.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece? 

I work on it until I am satisfied with it.

Sexer and Zimad

Have you a formal art education?

I went to Art & Design High School, where I was around writers like Doze, Crash and Seen, Paze, Size, Ence.  I also attended FIT and did some courses at Parsons.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

95% of it. I live off my art. My kids and my art are my life.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

I wouldn’t say I’ve been influenced by any specific cultures. But life, itself, and growing up in the South Bronx and New York City have probably been my main aesthetic influences.


Any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

I don’t like labels. I’m originally a graffiti artist, but I like street art.  Street artists may use different techniques and tools, but they have given us all – including galleries — a new lease on life.  Just look at all the attention Banksy and the art community have been getting since he began his residency on NYC streets!

How do you feel about that – the attention that Banksy has been getting?

It’s good. It keeps the art community healthy.

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

Probably because of graffiti’s association with vandalism. It’s problematic to many.

Any favorite arists?

Certainly Picasso. He had so many styles and could do just about anything. Among graffiti writers, my favorites include Seen, Doze Green, Duro, Pase and Crash

Sexer and Zimad

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

It’s a blessing. You don’t have to have a million dollars to market yourself. The Internet has become a vital tool.

Have you any feelings about the photographers in the scene?

I am thankful for their coverage. But it’s important that they ask the artist’s permission and that they credit the artist whose work they are photographing.

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

The artist has a responsibility to share his God-given talents with the world.


What do you see as the future of graffiti?

Graffiti is here to stay. It’s exciting and invigorating, and it is attracting an increasingly diverse following.

What about you? What’s ahead for you?

Well, after so many years of painting and striving for better and better, there’s only one direction for me: UP. I refuse to stop. I will continue to document my imagination and my emotions on whatever surface is in front of me. I love sharing my art.

Interview by Lois Stavsky; photo 1, close-up from Sexer’s new self-portrait, courtesy of the artist; photos 2 and 3, from Sexer’s solo exhibit at 5Pointz, by Dani Reyes Mozeson; photos 4 and 6, with Zimad at 5Pointz, by Lois Stavsky; photo 5, Sexer painting at 5Pointz, by Tara Murray


During the past few weeks, over a dozen first-rate artists have been busy gracing the walls of the Bushwick Collective with an extraordinary array of images. Here is a sampling of what’s been happening:

Brooklyn-based Beau Stanton at work 

Beau Stanton

 Zimad signs his piece


Sexer‘s completed masterpiece


Brett Flanigan and Cannon Dill — in from the West Coast

Brett Flanigan and Cannon Dill

Col Wallnuts collaborates with Toofly

Col and Toofly

Brendon Rogers at work during his stopover in NYC

Brendon Rodgers

Creepy — in from Australia; segment of larger mural


Melbourne’s Facter at work


Brooklyn-based Sonni


And we can expect even more great art — along with: guest food trucks, Miami Food Machine, Mike N’ Willies and Hibachi Heaven; a beer tent, sponsored by Corona Familiar, Bodega Wine Bar, Pearls Social and Billy Club, Mesa Azteca and Codigo Music, LLC; several bands, including Wild Yaks, Dead Sexy Shelia, Big Volcano, Cardboard, Dian’s Coffee, Grand Resor and ShiShi and DJ Jah Star of Ninjasonik — at this Sunday’s block party celebrating the Bushwick Collective’s first anniversary.  Bushwick Collective curator Joe Ficalora reports that among those artists painting live are: Franck Duval — in from Paris — on Flushing Avenue and Scott; Beau Stanton on Troutman between St. Nicholas and Cypress and Zimad and Sexer inside the beer tent, along with some surprise guests! Art, jewelry, clothing and more will be available from local merchants, and Limited Edition Bushwick Collective tee-shirts will be for sale. The official sponsor of this year’s event — held from 11am – 8pm at St. Nicholas Ave. and Troutman St. — is NOOKLYN.COM

Photos by Tara Murray and Lois Stavsky