urban calligraphy

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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Brimming always with color, craft and attitude, the walls that surface at Hackensack’s Union Street Park — under the curatorial direction of Darrius-Jabbar Sollas — are a graffiti lover’s heaven. The mural featured above was painted by the hugely talented Sade TCM. Several more images captured last week follow:

The legendary Part One

Bronx-based Sienide

Graffiti master Soze 527

The prolific Wore One

Brooklyn-based Johnny Samp

And fellow Brooklynite Fargo

Wide view — as dusk approaches

Located at 97 Union Street in Hackensack, NJ, Union Street Park is a 30 minute drive from NYC.

Photos by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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This past weekend the Graffiti Hall of Fame celebrated its 39th anniversary in the famed schoolyard on 106th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem. Pictured above is a b-boy celebrating Duster‘s vibrant piece. Several more images captured at the event follow:

Bronx-based Tony 164 with spray can in hand

Per One FX with spray can in hand — with Shiro and more to the left of his piece

Lower East Side-based Hektad

Yonkers-native Blame FX

5Pointz Creates founder Meres One

Graffiti Hall of  Fame director and veteran writer James Top in front of small segment of his tribute mural to Dondi

Special thanks to Scratch for helping us identify and introducing us to so many legendary writers.

Photo credits: 1-5 and 7 Ana Candelaria; 6 Lois Stavsky

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Showcasing a huge range of aerosol art, the walls in Hackensack’s Union Street Park brim with bold hues and swooping patterns. Under the curatorial skills and direction of NJ-based Darrius-Jabbar Sollas aka Nasty Neo, they frequently rotate — especially during the spring and summer months. While visiting on Friday, I captured the artworks that had been painted over Memorial Day weekend. Pictured above is a segment of one wall — featuring Wore One, TSK, Close, 2 I’ll and Buc 1. Several individual pieces — as seen throughout the park — follow:

Veteran writer Wore One — in honor of his son who is serving in the military

Buc 1 goes bold

Bronx legend Terrible TKid

The masterful Sade TCM

The legendary Part One

Special thanks to Darrius for identifying all of the artists and for maintaining Bergen County’s lone graffiti Mecca! Since my visit on Friday, the Bronx Team has graced the ever-ephemeral walls of Union Street Park.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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The Spanish city of Móstoles — just several miles from Central Madrid — is home to a wild array of stylishly striking graffiti walls. Featured above are the works of  the hugely talented Spanish photorealist and tattooist Theo Magma and the masterful Italian graffiti artist Made514. Several more images painted by members of the DMC Rock Crew, along with their guests, in honor of their 33rd Anniversary follow:

DMC Rock Crew member Soda One

DMC Rock Crew members Eloy Fernandez and Ed-Mun

DMC Rock and FX Crew member Mataone

DMC Rock Crew member Roy

 Local artist Rosk and Spanish painter David Villaécija

The Crime Kings -TCK member Tsug and local artist Andres

Photo credits: 1 Sara C Mozeson 2-7 Lois Stavsky

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Emerging in the mid-80’s as one of the most prolific writers in his native Copenhagen, Bates has since made his mark across the world. With his swooping patterns, vibrant abstract shapes and masterful manipulation of letters, he has attained legendary status. Here in NYC to celebrate his birthday, he has graced the Lazy Susan Gallery with a selection of works fashioned largely with spray paint, acrylic and roller paint. Several more images from his solo exhibition Bates New York Bash— that opens tonight and will remain on view through Thursday — follow:

Bates on Blue with Yellow

Bates with Gold Outline

Camoflauge

You can meet the Great Bates and celebrate his birthday with him tonight — starting at 6pm — at Lazy Susan Gallery, 191 Henry Street, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

All images courtesy Lazy Susan Gallery

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