Street Art NYC

Kicking off the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, Street Art for Mankind launched earlier this week a one-year anti-child trafficking billboard campaign online and in the streets of NYC.  Participating in this #FreeChildren Campaign are nine major street artists, who are taking over 100 billboards with visuals that educate the general public about the reality of child trafficking. All of the visuals can be activated by the free AR app “Behind the Wall,” available both on Google Play and at the App Store, that allows us to get the facts and take action simply by scanning the image.

The billboard featured above was designed by the immensely talented Spanish duo PichiAvo. Several more images of billboards that have turned into interactive installations in the streets of New York or online (video here) follow:

Spanish artist Lula Goce

Barcelona-native Cristian Blanxer

Amsterdam-based Judith de Leeuw aka JDL

Copenhagen-based Victor Ash

This #FreeChildren Campaign has been launched in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations (Alliance 8.7 co-chair), the Permanent Mission of Argentina to the United Nations (Alliance 8.7 co-chair), NYC Mayor’s Office (ENDGBV), the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, JC Decaux, along with renowned experts and activists.

All photos courtesy Street Art for Mankind

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On view at the prestigious National Arts Club through January 27, 2021 is Voices of the Soho Renaissance, an exhibition showcasing several artworks that had first surfaced on the plywood used to board up stores in Soho earlier this year. For those of us who first saw these works in their original sites, it is a delight to view them in such a stately setting. And if you missed seeing them earlier on, this is your chance!

The image featured above, The River Unconscious, is the work of the immensely talented Brooklyn-based artist Brendan T McNally. Additional images of artworks by members of the The Soho Renaissance Factory (SRF) on view follow:

Politically conscious African-American, Brooklyn-bred Amir Diop, “Samson and the 400 Years of Bondage”

Lebanese-American glass and light artist Trevor Croop AKA Light Noise in collaboration with Amir Diop, “We Are Used in Your Wars Even Though We Can Be Gone in a Flash”

Trevor Croop AKA Light Noise, “Change”

Native New Yorker Sulé whose masked characters don timely political slogans, “My Execution Might Be Televised”

Indigenous American multimedia artist Konstance Patton, “Godezz Mildred of Peace and Comforter of the Inner Child”

Brooklyn-based  Manuel Alejandro Pulla aka The Creator, “Brooklyn Bridge March for Justice”

Along with these artworks on exhibit are more than two dozen photographs documenting these extraordinary times — when protests were sweeping our streets daily — by acclaimed photographer Graham Macindoe.

Located at 15 Gramercy Park South, the galleries at the National Arts Club are open Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Admission is free, and you can make a reservation by filling out this form.

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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When the plywood returned to the streets of Soho shortly before the November presidential election, the artists got busy again. What a treat for us street art lovers! The image pictured above is the work of the increasingly prolific NYC-based Pure Genius. A small sampling of what’s been happening on the streets of Soho follows:

Brooklyn-based Manuel Alejandro Pulla aka The Creator with a call to support small businesses

Eyes that Love Art brings his mixed-media aesthetic to Grand Street plywood

Konstance Patton‘s signature lady with Amir Diop‘s political art to her right

Konstance Patton with a message; Sule on the door to her right and Light Noise above them both

Two short-lived works by One Rad Latina in her signature style

One of several collaborative works by Calicho and Jeff Rose King

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

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Upper Manhattan — the place John Audubon had called home — hosts a huge range of public artworks featuring images of  climate-endangered birds. Within a few blocks of the recently-installed mosaic mural — fashioned by Carlos Pinto and John Sear — over a dozen murals have made their way into the neighborhood since I’d last documented the hugely impressive Audubon Mural Project back in 2018.

The image featured above, “Goose Gets Down,” was recently painted by the legendary NYC-based Snoeman. Several more murals of endangered birds follow — all curated by Avi Gitler, who founded and spearheads this remarkable  project.

Brooklyn-based George Boorujy, Gang of Warblers

Also by George Boorujy, Greater Sage-Grouse

Australian-born Jacinta Stewart, American Three-toed Woodpecker and Bullock’s Oriole — segment of larger mural that also features a Red-breasted Sapsucker

Harlem-based Marthalicia Matarrita, Gray Hawk

And as seen last week at the New York Historical Society on the Upper West Side: Brooklyn-based Australian native Damien Mitchell, Peregrine Falcon, photographed by Mike Fernandez/Audubon

Photo credits: 1 City-as-School student Jasper Shepard; 2-6 Lois Stavsky

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163rd Street off Broadway was the place to be last week.  Multidisciplinary artists Carlos Pinto and John Sear brought their wondrous skills to The Audubon Mural Project, adding two elegant trumpeter swans to the approximately 100 uptown murals featuring endangered birds. The Audubon Project’s first mosaic mural fashioned entirely with recycled objects — from shards of glass to shattered plates  — garnered a huge welcome from the neighborhood, with volunteers eager to assist in the process.

Featured above is the completed mural that was captured this past Monday. The images that follow were taken last week as the mural was still in progress:

Carlos Pinto at work

And from another angle

John Sear at work

The artists take a brief break

Local folks assist Carlos Pinto and John Sear 

John Sear speaks to Audubon Mural Project director and curator Avi Gitler, who is standing next to Totem TC5‘s memorial to his son, Chris — a special, welcome addition to the mural

Photo credits: 1, 2 & 7 Lois Stavsky;  3-6 City-as-School student Jasper Shepard 

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The following guest post was written by Juyoun Han, an attorney at Eisenberg & Baum, LLP

According to the New York Times, Black Lives Matter protests may have been the largest movement in U.S. history, and the most vigilant of these protests remain on the walls, corners, and surfaces of streets that we walk by every day. In cities across the country — Seattle, Salt Lake City, Chicago, New York City — artists banded together to use their creativity as a powerful visual advocacy against racial injustice. World-renowned artist Banksy, for example, created a painting that depicts a candle at a memorial starting a small flame at the corner of a U.S. flag. Banksy expressed his support for the BLM movement in an Instagram post, saying “people of colour are being failed by the system.”

Unfortunately, these murals are short-lived, either because they are immediately tagged or destroyed by dissenters who blithely deny America’s problem of racism. Artists who had transformed boarded-up businesses into powerful BLM art witnessed their art getting thrown out by storeowners. Such defacement of protest art is unfortunately a recurring violation. In 2014, after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, a renowned Portland-based artist, Ashley Montague, painted a mural of late Brown entitled “Status Quo.” Unfortunately, the mural was tagged and painted over.

Now, here’s the good news: the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (“VARA Law”) may be the key to protecting and preserving these artworks. Under this law, the creators of 5Pointz recently cemented a victory after declination of review by the U.S. Supreme Court, obtaining a $6.75 million award against a luxury condo developer who destroyed what was previously considered to be “the world’s premier graffiti mecca.” The lawsuit sets a powerful precedent that may be relied upon to protect BLM murals.

Q&A about VARA Law for street artists:

My artwork was completely destroyed. Can it be protected under VARA?

Yes. VARA law protects artworks from being destroyed, but you will need to prove that the work gained “recognized stature.” This means that your work must have gained recognition by the art community and the public. There are many ways to meet this “recognized stature” standard. For example, you can show that your artwork garnered social media attention and other press coverage, that other members of the art community vouched for your work, or that your work had been featured in movies or videos.

My work is not destroyed, but some people tagged it and now it is a mockery. Does the law protect me?

Yes. VARA protects against modification, distortion, or mutilation of artworks that harms an artist’s reputation. For example, removing and making changes to sculptures made to be installed for a certain space, or partially painting over an original mural and allowing the public to see the distorted art form can harm the original artist’s esteem and reputation in the community. Even an emerging artist can show that the artist’s reputation has been harmed on a case-by-case basis. After all, part of the goal of VARA law is to protect works of lesser known artists as well as artists who have already gained fame

What if multiple artists collaborated on a single piece of artwork?

VARA may protect artwork even if it was created by multiple artists as a collaboration piece; not every artist involved needs to be famous. Even an artwork led by an artist joined by a community of teenage students can be protected under VARA.

If I am hired to install the art, can I still gain protection under VARA?

No. If you were hired to install a piece of art, then the “work-for-hire” exception applies and VARA will not protect your artwork.

What kind of protection would I gain under VARA?

If your artwork has already been destroyed, you can bring a legal action for compensation. If you have knowledge that your work may be destroyed in the future, you can prevent that from happening by requesting a legal injunction. You are also entitled to a 90-day notice before your work is removed.

What kinds of murals will VARA NOT protect?

If you signed a document or “waiver” of your VARA rights, then you cannot try to preserve your work. If you created an artwork on a property without permission or authorization from the property owner, this is a grey area—there is at least one legal case that says VARA law will not protect unauthorized artworks. However, if the artwork is removable (for example, on a board or a canvas) from the wall of the building, it might be protected even if not authorized.

If your artwork was not destroyed but modified due to normal wear and tear, or due to weather or climate change, it can be more difficult to ask for legal recovery. Also, the following forms of art are excluded from VARA protection: works made for hire, posters, maps, globes or charts, technical drawings, diagrams, models, applied art, motion pictures, books and other publications, electronic publications, merchandising items or advertising, promotional, descriptive, covering, packaging material or container; nor does VARA  cover any work not subject to general copyright protection.

Does it matter which state I live in?

No. VARA law is federal law, so it applies no matter which state you live in. However, there are state laws that are similar to VARA, which may give you additional legal protection.

What can artists do to protect their art?

Authorization – gaining authorization, preferably in writing, from the owner of the mural’s site to create your artwork will be advantageous in a legal action.

Recognition – the more the artist can show recognition (e.g. social media, press coverage, public and art community’s acclaim) the more effective it would be to prevent or recover compensation from those who destroyed the work.

Timely Response – if you are aware of threats to destroy or mutilate your artwork, respond in a timely manner. Contacting lawyers can help prevent the damage, facilitate negotiations, and if necessary, bring legal actions.

About the author: Juyoun Han, is a lawyer at Eisenberg & Baum LLP based in NYC. Juyoun’s practice includes Art Law, Artificial Intelligence Fairness & Data Privacy, and Disability Rights litigation. She was involved in the 5Pointz litigation and thanks her clients who have opened her eyes to
the world of art.

Note: The views expressed on this post are those of the individual author writing in her individual capacities only – not of any employers or affiliates.

Street art protest images featured here were selected and photographed by Lois Stavsky 

Ori Carino on the Lower East Side

Calicho Arevalo in Gowanus

july4art on the Bowery

Souls NYC in the Bronx, south of West Farms

5 & 6  Amir Diop in Soho and Noho

Unidentified artist in Gowanus

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Few NYC street art spots are as reflective of our times as is Freeman’s Alley, located off Rivington Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. And in these challenging times, the nation’s precarious political state and its ongoing pandemic have been the major themes of the street art that has emerged there.

Pictured above is NYC-based artist SacSix‘s portrait of our vice president-elect, Kamala Harris — a representative of the change we so sorely need. Several more images captured this past Sunday follow:

NYC-based Raddington Falls‘ politically-conscious Lego-inspired characters

Crkshnk’s depicts  former NYC mayor and current Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani as court jester

California-based Jeremy Novy laments the loss of “free hugs” in the time of Covid-19

 NYC-based DeGrupo celebrates President-elect Joe Biden’s victory

NYC-based Eye Sticker — in this pre-election paste-up — asks us to vote out “Trumpkin Season”

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

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Celebrating five years of Underhill Walls — the model community art project spearheaded and curated by Jeff Beler — “What’s Your Sign?” recently surfaced at the corner of Underhill Avenue and Saint Johns Place.  Featured above is Jeff Beler — standing to the left of his mural, adjacent to BLJ ‘s . Several more images from “What’s Your Sign?” follow:

North Carolina / NYC-based BLJ creates a passionate, assertive Aries, the ram — the first astrological sign in the Zodiac

Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo‘s Sagittarius and Savior Elmundo‘s Scorpio

Paulie Nassar designs an alluring Gemini

Visual artist and producer Megan Watters honors Ruth Bader Ginsburg with an elegantly balanced Libra

Brooklyn-based Justin Winslow fashions a mesmerizingly playful Aquarius

And Brooklyn-based Subway Doodle adds a bit of playful sarcasm

Photos of images by Lois Stavsky

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A stirring pubic art exhibition has recently made its way to 6th Avenue and 43rd Street in Midtown Manhattan. Brazilian artist Alexandre Keto imagines the future lives of Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Agatha Felix had they not become “victims of deadly brutality.”

The image featured above depicts Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old African American woman who was found hanged in a Texas jail cell three days after she was arrested during a traffic stop in July, 2015. Several more images from Alive with Us /Viva com Nós follow:

17-year-old Florida-based African-American high school student Trayvon Martin, murdered in 2012 by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, to the left of 18 -year-old Michael Brown who was fatally shot in 2014 by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo

Alexandre Keto — captured at work in the final stages of the mural’s production

Michael Brown, closer-up

Brazilian 8-year-old Agatha Felix, shot in the back in a Rio de Janeiro favela in 2019

And, again, Agatha Felix

Produced by Art Bridge and presented in partnership with Arts Brookfield, “Alive with Us /Viva com Nós” is part of City Canvas, an initiative of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs

Photo credits: 1-5 Lois Stavsky 6 Sara C Mozeson

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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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