Street Art NYC

The shutter featured above was painted by New York-based Chilean artist Nelson Rivas aka Cekis on East Houston Street, around the corner from his recent mural at Rag & Bone.  Several more images featuring the enticing art that has surfaced on NYC shutters and gates follow:

The legendary Kenny Scharf in the East Village

Brooklyn-based Master Moody Mutz on the Lower East Side

Staten Island-based Kwue Molly in Astoria, Queens with the Welling Court Mural Project

Barcelona-based El Xupet Negre in Bushwick

Ecuadorian artist Apitatán in Bushwick with JMZ Walls

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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An art lover and dear friend to so many street artists, East Village–based Steve Stoppert is a local legend. True to his motto, “Just Paint,” he is the force behind one of NYC’s most visible public spaces – the wall facing the Second Avenue subway station. Dozens of artists have painted there, and dozens more wait their turn. Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Steve in his Second Avenue apartment that brims with art — from floor to ceiling — in just about every media and style.

We are fortunate that you have made New York City your home. Where were you born? And what brought you here?

I was born in Pontiac, Michigan — a northern suburb of Detroit. I came here in 1992 for two weeks to remodel my sister’s bathroom. And I never left. She was living on East 6th Street at the time.

What was it about NYC that so drew you in?

The music scene. It was magic!  Seeing the Pavement at the Mercury Lounge on the Lower East Side. Hanging out at CBGB on the Bowery…

And what about NYC’s art scene?

I used to go on my own to the Met. But it wasn’t until an artist friend took me on a tour of the museum and introduced me to Cézanne that something clicked!

What is your first street art/graffiti-related memory?

Definitely Shepard Fairey. Seeing Andre the Giant everywhere!

And how did you become so deeply involved with the current scene?

I started going out with Fumero late at night. I was his “look-out.” I remember thinking, “If only I’d had an aerosol can in my hand when I was 15!”

How has the street art scene changed since you first began paying attention to it? 

It’s different. These days, there are lots of fluffy paste-ups, and just about everyone is documenting it. But I still love it.

What is your favorite aspect of the scene?

I love the hunt. When I first began in 2010, I was obsessed with Jim Joe. I used to hunt for him daily. I chased him everywhere between the Lower East Side and Tribeca competing with folks on Tumblr for the most Jim Joe sightings.

For the past several years you’ve been curating a hugely visible wall right on your block. How do you decide which artists to feature?

I have a list of about 80-100 artists who’ve approached me. We simply select a name at random from a hat. Each month the wall changes.

What has the experience been like?

I love it. I love working with artists. I don’t even mind when they’re flakey or late. I just go with it.

How do you deal with the ever-present politics in this scene?

I ignore it completely.

Do any memorable experiences stand out? 

Fun times! When City Kitty got up on the wall and changed it 6-8 times within three months. And, of course, riding on my bike at 3am to 4am with flashlight and bike light – not knowing what I will see that I haven’t seen before.

What do you see as the future of this scene?

It seems to be at an all-time high with its increasing appeal to commercial buildings and high-end hotels.

Yes! It certainly has changed since I first fell in love with it! And we are thrilled that you are doing what you are doing. The wall that you curate is one of our faves.

Images:

1. Steve Stoppert in front or wall painted last Sunday by Key Detail

2, Noted California-born artist and musician Paul Kostabi

3. The itinerant Sirus Fountain aka Pyramid Oracle

4. Bronx-based Zimad

5. Brooklyn-based Argentine artists Magda Love and Sonni

6. The prolific Optimo NYC aka Optimo Primo, Werds and No Sleep

7. Brooklyn-based Argentine artist Ramiro Davaro-Comas

Interview conducted by Lois Stavsky and Ana Candelaria and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1-3 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 4, 6 & 7 Ana Candelaria

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The following guest poet is by Lower East Side-based photographer Ana Candelaria

This past Saturday, I joined a group of 21 Shooters Street Art hunters, scouring the streets of SoHo and Tribeca. On a mission, organized by Shooters Street Art founder Omar Lopez aka Omar Victorious, we competed to be the first to locate 17 wheatpastes featuring works by one of my favorite street artists, Dee Dee Was Here. After our two-hour search had ended, and the winner, John Domine, was presented with an exclusive original print, Dee Dee, who remained undisclosed throughout the hunt, offered me her feedback:

How do you feel about the concept behind the Shooters Street Art Scavenger Hunt?

I love the concept. I love walking in the city myself, just wandering. It reminds me of back when I came upon art that I loved…like Bäst  and Aiko. It was a great surprise to run into one. The idea of bringing a group of people together for a fun day in October outside to find art was too good to pass up!

This hunt seemed to motivate you to put up even more work on the streets.

Honestly, it only motivated me more THIS week. I did look around SoHo with a new eye to put a few more out, as I wanted it to be really fun for everyone. Not everything was new. I brought some old favorites out, since I know that some people may be new to me and not know them. It was a nice overview of pieces from the past few years.

What inspires your works?

All of mine are inspired differently. Each has a story and a mood I am trying to convey. A lot starts with songs; then a story begins from there.

How does it feel to have so many people hunting for you?

It’s a little overwhelming, really! I am very lucky. I am told over and over how many people deeply connect with my work  — on a very personal level. One gallery owner once told me, “Your fans don’t love you; they LOVE you!” I feel that, and I feel very connected to them. I make my art for me. It’s the art that I want to see, so having everyone excitedly coming to find it is quite amazing. The fact that it makes them happy and they get to enjoy the day — while making new friends — is just icing on a pretty great cake.

What was it like to participate anonymously in this Shooters Street Art Scavenger Hunt?

I also got to enjoy it out there myself — as a few people ran right by me to find their next location. It’s Halloween, and I get to be a real-live ghost. What could be more fun that that?

Thank you so much, Dee Dee. We loved it. I greatly appreciate your feedback and kindness. I can’t get over how much fun I had on this hunt. It was filled to the brim with excitement. 

My pleasure. I wanted to do something fun for Halloween, and we had such a beautiful day for it. So many people told me what a great time they had…we may have to do it again sometime.

Interview and photos by Ana Candelaria

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The wonderfully talented Menace Two and Resa Piece have merged their sensibilities and skills to fashion a captivatingly stunning array of murals that have made their way not only throughout NYC, but across the country. I was delighted to have the opportunity meet up with them in their Bushwick home that they’ve aptly titled “Street Art Sanctuary ” — a spacious  graffiti/street art haven that Menace and Resa also host as an Airbnb. 

When and where did you first get up? And what inspired you to do so?

Resa: I started in 2015. The first wall I ever did was in the Bronx, but I painted mostly in Brooklyn at the time – often in Bushwick. What inspired me to? While I was living in Flushing, I used to regularly ride past 5Pointz on the 7 train. I thought it was all so amazing. I remember thinking, “Why would someone do this?” But it was awhile before I actually did it!   The sense that I had something to prove – that a female could create artwork on the same level as any established male artist — also drove me.

Menace: I was in the 7th grade in a local Queens public school. I was always drawing on my desk — anime at the time. One of the kids sitting next to me said I’d be good at graffiti. He introduced me to graffiti, encouraged me and invited me to join his crew, BTC. That was the beginning. I was 12 years old.

You’ve both painted in both illegal and in sanctioned places. Which do you prefer?

Illegal. Painting “without permission” is far more validating!

Have you exhibited your work in gallery settings?

The streets are our gallery.

What about the increasing engagement of street artists and graffiti writers with the corporate world? Would you consider such a collaboration?

It depends. No one can dictate to us what can or cannot do.

Have you any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

Our job is to bridge it! It’s all about respect.

What is your main source of income?

Painting commissions.

Did you have you a formal art education?

Resa: I did not attend a specialized art college, but at Binghamton, I majored in both Art History and Studio Art. I will always remain grateful to the late Professor George Dugan for his support and encouragement.

Menace: I studied Graphic Design in college, but I never graduated.

How does your family feel about your passion for art?

Resa: My mom initially fostered it. She enrolled me in art classes when I was eight years old. But then when I wanted to go to an art college, her response was, “You’re too smart to be an artist.” And so she encouraged me to go into the art business. But after interning at Christy’s and working for a collector, I came to understand that the art market is driven by billionaires. I know now that I want to focus on creating my own art and not marketing other artists to the richest 1 per cent. And at this point, my mom understands and respects what I’m doing.

Menace: They intensely disliked my passion for graffiti. I was often getting into graffiti-related trouble in school, and any time my parents saw me writing graffiti, they’d scream at me.  They couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t just “draw something pretty.” My father and I fought just about every day. But my parents have since come to accept me. It helped that in honor of our mothers we painted a mural featuring a tiger mom embracing her cub for the Boogie Down event at the Bronx Zoo for Mothers Day, 2018.

When you paint in public spaces, do you work with a sketch-in-hand or just let it flow?

We generally work with Photoshop mock-ups.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece? 

Generally, we are.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

100 %.

Have you any other interests or passions?

Resa: Not many.

Menace: Video games.

Are there any particular cultures that have inspired your aesthetic?

Hip-hop and New York flavor, in general.

Who are some of your favorite artists? Artists who have inspired you?

Resa: There are so many – BK Foxx, Royyal Dog, El Mac, Meres, Jerms, Topaz, Seen, Skeme

Menace:Reach Eight, Glossblack, Revok, Saber, MSK

How has your work evolved in recent years?

It’s gotten much better. While touring the country, we felt we had to prove something at each stop!

In your cross-country venture — #paintloveacrossamerica — you hit several key cities from Philly to LA painting a range of spectacular murals — some with permission and others without. Does any particular memory stand out?

When we had reached LA, we asked an established street art organization to help us find a legal wall. When assistance didn’t come our way, we found — on our own — one of the largest walls in the heart of the LA  arts district. When the cops rolled up, we didn’t know what to expect, but they expressed appreciation for our work. And when the owner came by, we convinced him that we are in the process of beautifying his property. The final mural — one of our favorite ones — is a visual representation of our collective prayers.

No doubt that what hat you painted was a gift  — however ephemeral — to the city!  What’s ahead?

More painting, of course! And our ultimate goal is to create a community center that serves as a base for us to teach painting and mural-making skills to others.

That sounds wonderful! And thanks for sharing your talents and visions with so many of us.

Images:

1 “Madonna Menace” in Bushwick, JMZ Walls

2 Close-up of Resa and Menace captured at work in Bushwick, JMZ Walls

3 “What a Wonderful World,” portrait of Louis Armstrong, in Esst Harlem, GrandScale Mural Project

4 “When the whole world is silent/Even one voice becomes powerful,” portrait of Malala in Bushwick

5 “Believe in the Reality of Your Dreams,” in Bushwick

6 “Real Eyes Realize Real Lies,” portrait of Tupac in Wynwood

7 “Protect,” Unsanctioned mural in LA’s arts district

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1-3 Lois Stavsky; 4 & 5 Ana Candelaria; 6 & 7 Courtesy of  Menace and Resa

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This is the 15th in a series of occasional posts featuring the range of faces that have surfaced in NYC open spaces. The image above featuring Lauryn Hill was painted by the Brooklyn-based “dynamic duo,” Menace Two and Resa Piece with JMZ Walls.  Several more images of captivating faces that I’ve come upon in my relatively recent meanderings follow:

San Juan, Puerto Rico-based Son Coro in Bushwick

Mexican-born, NYC-based Maria De Los Angeles, painted on glass at Pratt Institute on West 14th Street

Netherlands-based Michel Velt at the Bushwick Collective

Asian-Canadian multi-media artist Jess X Snow, curated for Art in Ad Places by Dusty Rebel in the Village

Sicilian duo Rosk & Loste at the Bushwick Collective

UK-based Dreph at the GrandScale Mural Project in East Harlem

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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I first met and interviewed Lily Luciole back in 2014 when she came to NYC to share her distinct vision on our streets . Active throughout the globe, but particularly in Montreal and Paris, Lily fashions alluring mixed media images — largely inspired by her African heritage and her quest to reclaim her identity. The artist was back here this past month for a brief visit, and we had a chance to catch up a bit.

The last time we met up you were living in Montreal. Where are you based these days?

I now consider Paris my home.

What motivated you to return to Paris?

My mother is not in good health. She needs my support, and I want to look after her. I, also, feel that seeing new art in a different setting inspires me and stimulates my creativity.

How has your vision changed or evolved within the past few years?

While living in Montreal, my main focus had been street art. But my most recent project, Sortir Les Femmes De L’Ombre (Taking Women Out of the Shadows), engages women in a range of artistic ventures from the visual arts to dance to poetry. Ten women are currently involved, and plans are now underway for a performance and discussion as to the particular challenges faced by Muslim women in the arts.

How would you, then, define the mission of Sortir Les Femmes De L’Ombre?

Its mission is to give underrepresented women opportunities to share their talent, as well as to discover other talented women out there.

What about your own art? In what ways may that have evolved?

My technique is more complex and time-consuming, as I incorporate more embroidery. But it always centers on the representation of women.

What’s ahead?

Raising more funds to further develop Sortir Les Femmes De L’Ombre and working on my own project. I’m, also, interested in becoming involved in exhibitions and events in the northern French city, Lille.

It sounds great. Be sure to keep us posted! 

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits:  1-3, Ana Candelaria; 4  Hervé Sarrazin

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The following guest poet is by Lower East Side-based photographer Ana Candelaria

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Baston714 has been making his mark on our streets these past few years with his uniquely intriguing wheatpastes, paste-ups and stickers. By chance, I came upon him while he was painting a mural outside the Second Avenue subway station — one of our favorite street art spots. Soon afterwards, I had the opportunity to interview him:

When did you first discover your love for art?

Both my parents were artists and Pratt graduates. My father was a furniture designer and my mom a shoe designer. So art was always a part of my life. I was always creative and I was always drawing, but I majored in television broadcasting and worked largely in network news as an editor.

Do any early art-related memories stand out? Particularly those that may involve your parents?

One particular memory stands out. When I was five years old, after seeing the movie A Red Balloon, I started drawing red balloons all over my walls at home. My mother didn’t appreciate my efforts and made me wash them all off.  I remember, also, my father drawing characters and having me identify them. I’d guess who each one was. My father might have been a fantastic fine artist, but because he had a family to take care of, he never pursued that venue.

What motivated you to hit the streets with your distinct vision?

I didn’t expect to. I had no plans of being a street artist. But once I began to photograph street art, I was hooked. I started creating little drawings and sending them out to the street artists I’d met to get some feedback. The feedback was positive – and, like the street artists I’d befriended, I, too, wanted to share them in a public space. I started putting up stickers about three years ago.

Are there any street artists out there who particularly inspired you when you began to get your work up in public spaces?

Among those who inspired me were: Who is Dirk?, Fumero, Denton Borrows, Phetus 88. and Jeff Henriquez.. I started shooting videos with Who is Dirk?, at night. I loved the idea of being in Chinatown at 3 AM in the morning!

What about your name? How did you come up with Baston714 ?

I lived in the jungle for over five years in Iquitos, Peru — one of the most isolated cities in the world.  One of the Shamans — healers — gave me the nickname Baston which means walking stick in Spanish. And I always liked the number combination 714!

Can you tell us something about your now-iconic face?

The face was influenced by other artists and the experiences I had with Shamans while living in the jungle. Painting comes from a very personal space. I had an idea and started fooling around. I like my colors to pop.

Are you generally satisfied with your artwork?

I hate my work until I’m about midway through creating it. About 56% in, I say to myself, “There’s something here.” And then the work starts to talk to me, “Do this! Put something here.” It comes to life.

I first met you while you were working on a wall on Houston Street and 2nd Avenue. Was this your first mural?

No, I’ve painted about five or six walls. Kon Air  gave me my first wall in Barcelona. It took me six hours to finish painting it. Fumero, gave me a wall at Art Basel 2018. Spray painting is extremely challenging. I like the challenge, and I would like to paint more walls.

Have you collaborated with any other artists?

Yes, I’ve collaborated with Zimad on stickers. I have also worked with Sinclair the VandalWho is Dirk? and Doodlehedz.

Are there any artists out there with whom you’d like to collaborate?

Among those I’d like to collaborate with are: Ratanic, Antennae and Fluidtoons.

Whats ahead?

More wheatpastes and I’d like to work on more walls.

Interview conducted by Ana Candelaria and edited for clarity and brevity by Ana and Lois.

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

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During the past several weeks, over a dozen intriguing murals have surfaced at First Street Green Art Park. Fashioned by local, national and international artists, they reflect a huge range of styles and sensibilities, The now-iconic image featured above is the work of the nomadic Nite Owl. Several more recent additions to First Street Green Art Park follow:

Brazilian artist Panmela Castro at work

NYC-based Marzipan Physics

Brooklyn-based K-NOR 

Cram Concepts and Ratchi NYC

Brazilian artist Binho

Madrid-based Ramón Amorós

First Street Green Art Park is located at 33 East 1st Street, where the Lower East Side meets the East Village.

Photo credits: 1, 3-7 Lois Stavsky; 2 Ana Candelaria

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Earlier this month, Brazilian artist Marcelo Ment returned briefly to NYC, gracing a huge corner at JMZ Walls on Myrtle and Broadway in Bushwick. For three days, he worked approximately eights hours each day, interacting with local folks from the neighborhood and walking away with a strong sense of the place and the people who call it home. He described the time he spent there as “one of the most intense experiences of this life.” Featured above is one segment of the mural. Following are several more photos we captured on Marcelo Ment‘s final day of painting:

The artist in action

The Light: One Love, Respect and Loyalty

And the mural continues with a tribute to Biggie and Brooklyn

Biggie Smalls, closer up

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

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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This past Thursday, Tats Cru members BG 183, Bio and Nicer — along with CrashNick Walker and Daze — once again transformed their wall at East Harlem’s Graffiti Hall of Fame. Featured above are BG 183 and UK native Nick Walker at work. What follows are several more photos of the artists in action– all captured Thursday by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad.

BG 183

Crash

Nick Walker 

Daze

Bio

Nicer

The artists — Nick WalkerDaze, BG 183, Crash, Bio and Nicer

And the wall

Photos by Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad

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