urban intervention

Opening this Saturday, November 9 at 9127 East 5th Street in Downtown Los Angeles is “The Streets Are Queer.” Presented by In Heroes We Trust and Rainbow Walls, it features works by over two dozen self-identifying queer North American artists who have left their mark on our streets. Featured above is LA-based figurative painter and muralist David Puck at work on a portrait of Vanessa Vanjie. Several more public works by a small sampling of the artists featured in “The Streets Are Queer” follow:

Brooklyn-based photographer and filmmaker, Daniel “Dusty” Albanese aka the Dusty Rebel, currently at work on a book and documentary about queer street art

New Orleans-based Brooklyn-native Hugo Gyrl

The itinerant São Paulo-native Suriani

NYC-based Patron Saint of the Underground Jilly Ballistic 

UK-based duo The Postman

LA-based Homo Riot

Curated by Homo Riot,”The Streets Are Queer” continues through December 7.

All photos courtesy the gallery

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One of my favorite spots in town is East Harlem’s Guerrilla Gallery. Located on 116th Street, between second and third Avenues, it hosts some of the most authentic walls found anywhere. Always reflecting the spirit of the folks who either live in East Harlem or identify with its culture, the art that surfaces there is often political, provocative and celebratory. The aerosol portrait featured above was painted by Mexican artist Tomer Linaje.

This summer’s installation, produced by the Harlem Art Collective, is a salute to Harlem. Several images I captured of the current installation while exploring the neighborhood this past week follow:

Evelyn C Suarez, Rashida Stewart and more

Adam Bomb with Rafael Gama, bottom right

Rafael Gama, closer-up

Kristy McCarthy aka Dorothy Gale, Shani Evans, Rashida Stewart and more

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Curated by Nic 707, the ingenious InstaFame Phantom Art continues to bring old school writers, along with a diverse range of younger artists, onto New York City subway trains. Pictured above is photographer/arts educator Rachel Fawn Alban snapping graff pioneer Dr Revolt, an original member of the historic NYC subway graffiti crew the Rolling Thunder. Several more images captured while riding the 1 train last week follow:

Al Diaz aka SAMO©

NYC-based multi-disciplinary artist Paulie Nassar

Bronx-based InstaFame Phantom Art founder and curator, Nic 707

Sweden-born, East Harlem-based Scratch

       Japanese painter and performance artist Pinokio

Social worker Luca Sanremo checking out the legendary Taki 183 with background by Nic 707,

Photo credits: 1, 3, 5-8 Lois Stavsky; 2 & 4 Rachel Fawn Alban

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A lover of words — both spoken and written — I’ve been a huge fan of Jay Shells’ (Jason Shelowitz’s) ambitious rap project from my first glimpse of his site-specific mural on Myrtle and Broadway several years ago. The recently released The Rap Quotes Coast to Coast — published by Dokument Press — is a photographic foray into Jay Shells’ brilliant urban interventions installed in several key cities from 2013-2018.  Accompanied with maps of site-specific rap lyrics, it is an homage to hip-hop, the spirit of the streets and to street art.

Traveling with photographer and award-winning videographer Aymann Ismail, Jay installed over 400 site-specific interventions. Largely displayed as street signs, the rap lyrics sometimes surfaced on billboards, bus stops, phone booth advertising takeovers and painted murals.

While the first segment of the book focuses on NYC — the birthplace of hip-hop in the early 80’s –The Rap Quotes Coast to Coast  also transports us to neighboring Philly, across the country to LA and then to Atlanta and Houston.

Providing a window into the psychology and cultural differences among the varied sites, the playfully poetic lyrics are witty and sly and— in the vein of rap — often hyperbolic. And offering further insights into it all, each city documented in The Rap Quotes Coast to Coast is introduced by a hip-hop journalist. 

The Rap Quotes Coast to Coast is widely available in bookstores and online and can be purchased here.

All photos courtesy Dokument Press; book review by Lois Stavsky

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In a nation where the American dollar seems to matter more than the American life, native New Yorker creative Maia Lorian in collaboration with veteran NYC street artist Abe Lincoln Jr. have released A Presidential Parody, an ad campaign addressing our nation’s misplaced priorities

A variety of advertisements — reflecting Trump’s “all American” values — can be found throughout NYC from the Lower East Side to the Upper West Side. Featured above is a satirical ad for Trump Tower. Several more follow:

Ivanka’s Sweatshop

Trump’s Bistro

On the streets or Manhattan

The Miss Oligarchy Pageant

On the street

All four posters have been added to the permanent collection of Poster House, the first museum in the nation dedicated to the art of the poster. 

With a background in comedy and improv, Maia Lorian has been featured in a range of productions including: Flight of the Conchords (HBO), The Onion News Network (IFC), a plethora of college humor videos that have gone viral and a series of films by cult filmmaker Mike Kuchar.  She has also worked as a performance facilitator for Marina Abramovic’s piece Generator and has been featured on Saturday Night Live.

Abe Lincoln Jr. is a veteran street artist whose work has been featured in the Cooper-Hewitt Design Triennial. He is also a co-founder of the Resistance is Female art collective which was featured in Milton Glaser’s latest book The Design of Dissent. His work has been shown alongside other early street art contemporaries such as Swoon, Michael Defeo, and Ron English. He has collaborated with such brands as: Star Wars, Converse, Mad Magazine, and Kid Robot. 

You can contact the talented duo at apresidentialparody@gmail.com

All photos courtesy the artists

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Maya Gelfman & Roie Avidan have been working in public spaces, museums and galleries for more than a decade. Maya’s works have been featured in international art books in Germany and France, and in 2015 Paper Magazine named Maya among the top ten street artists in Israel. Roie has produced documentaries and music videos and published photographs in dozens of newspapers and magazines, print and online. Their collaborative worldwide public-art project Mind the Heart! is entering its tenth year. This past fall, their project brought them to New York City, where I had a chance to meet up with the inspiring, talented couple.

Can you tell us a bit about your backgrounds?

Maya: I’ve always been doing art. I graduated from the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in 2006. My main mediums are installation, painting and street art.

Roie: I am self-taught. I’ve been engaged with visual art for the past 14 years, and nine years ago, I began doing art on the streets. Our work is collaborative, as I generally choose the materials, the concept and the location.

What about your current project Mind the Heart!? What is its mission?

Its principal aim is to promote mindfulness – to ourselves, to our surroundings and to the moment. Many of us – especially those of us who live in the same place for a long time — no longer see the beauty and tend to ignore the ugliness. Too often we become disconnected from one another and miss out on the present.

A little red heart has been surfacing in cities you’ve visited. What does it represent?

This tangled red heart – crooked and messy with dripping ends — is the core of our project. We began by using it on the streets of Tel Aviv to mark the beauty in decay and neglect, the order in chaos, the magic in the ordinary, the soul in things. We’ve since handed out thousands of red yarn hearts along with a simple mission: to go and put it out there, to mark your own spots of significance and share them with the world.

Why did you both choose to use the streets as your principal gallery?

We had both shown in galleries, and we wanted to exhibit in a different way. In 2009, we printed hundreds of posters and placed them on the streets. Within 12 hours, everything was gone. We immediately fell in love with the connection we made with those who viewed our art. We love that street art is completely free.

You are now visiting cities throughout the US. Which cities have you previously visited to share your artwork and to engage people in your project?

We’ve visited various cities throughout Israel. Among the 40 cities we’ve collaborated in are: Florence, London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Bangkok. We were also invited to orphanages in Kenya and Uganda.

What is the riskiest thing you’ve ever done in the course of executing your project? And why were you willing to take that risk?

Standing on a wobbly 15 foot ladder at a hotel in Florence. The ladder could have fallen at any moment. There was no sense of security. Why did we do it? We just didn’t think about it. It was something that we had to do…something that we needed to do at this time and place.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic, particularly this project?

The culture of the American Beat Generation; the notion of “the open road,” and its sense of freedom; Japanese motifs; texts inspired by Taoism; major Russian literature; rock & roll; Kurt Cobain and Leonard Cohen.

What inspires you these days?

Anything and everything!

Have you ever been arrested for your public work?

When we are caught in the act, it becomes a conversation.

What is the attitude of your families and friends towards what you are doing?

They are supportive.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

100%

In addition to your tangled red heart, what other media do you use in Mind the Heart!

We use yarn, shoe-box lids, duct-tape and foam.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished product?

The vast majority of the time.

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

To evoke an emotion…to make someone feel something…to invite people to reflect…to make them mindful.

And how can folks become involved in your project?

They can contact us with ideas for places, people, collaborations, events, murals, and any creative or serendipitous idea they may have.

Locations of  featured images:

1 Bushwick, Brooklyn

2 East Village, Manhattan

3 & 4 Decatur, Georgia

5 Tel Aviv, Israel

6 Jekyll Island, Georgia

7 Easton, Pennsylvania 

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky.

Photo credits: 1 Lois Stavsky; 2-7 courtesy Maya Gelfman & Roie Avidan.

Note: You can follow the Mind the Heart! project here and on its Instagram account here; you can, also, support the project here.

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My latest adventures with Nic 707‘s famed InstaFame Phantom Art project had me riding the 1 train from the Bronx to the Financial District with several NYC graffiti veterans, along with some newer talents. Pictured above is an image of Salvador Dali fashioned by veteran writer Gear One. Several more images captured on this ride follow:

The legendary Taki 183 in collaboration with Nic 707

Brazilian artist Micheline Gil and Nic 707

Canadian artist Stavro and the renowned Easy

Legendary writers Al Diaz and Taki 183

Bronx graffiti veteran Tony 164

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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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