wheat paste

Tucked into a narrow passageway off Rivington Street east of the Bowery is the ever-evolving Freeman’s Alley. Even as the street art scene becomes increasingly corporate and commercial, Freeman’s Alley continues to remain a treasure trove of unsanctioned artwork. While some works can last for months, many are quite ephemeral. Featured above is “No Child Is Illegal” by Lmnopi. The following images were captured during these past two months.

Sara Lynne Leo, “It Wasn’t Supposed to End This Way”

 Dylan Egon, “Saint America,” with Sara Erenthal to his left

The Postman does Robert Smith of the English rock band, The Cure (Be sure to look up for this one!)

UK-based Coloquix

City Kitty and friends

10-year-old Ethan Armen with Thomas Allen

Captain Eyeliner, Who’s Dirk and friends

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4-8 Ana Candelaria; 3 Lois Stavsky

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

It was love at first wheat paste. After several months of photographing Connecticut-born Sara Lynne Leo‘s work on NYC streets, I had the opportunity to meet her at COLLAGE NYC LIVE Art & Networking Event at the Delancey. More recently, I was able to find out a bit about her:

How old were you when you discovered your love for art?

I knew at four or five years that I love making art. My mother was an art teacher, and she always encouraged me.

Have you had any formal art training?

Yes, I studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University and at Emerson College. When I began studying art, I wanted to become a fine art oil painter in the style of the Italian classical masters. But  later on, I decided to move on to something more commercial that would, also, allow me to express myself on a personal level. I then studied animation.

Who are some of the artists who inspire you?

The British painter Francis Bacon. He’s super creepy and dark. I also like Kiki Smith‘s edginess.

Why did you decide to hit the streets?

I wanted to share ordinary stories that people could relate to. My character is an everyday person with everyday problems — who lives in the city.  It is a blend of illustrative style and cartoon.

How old is this character? When did you first create him?

My character is four to five months old.

Where can we find your character? I’ve seen it primarily on the Lower East Side and in Williamsburg.

My character has also made its way to the Bronx, but can be found mainly in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

I discovered some of your political work on your website. Why don’t we see more of your political work on the streets?

Good question! I ask myself the same exact thing. I guess it feels different to make a political statement vs. something more personal. I’m more inrerested in personal expression in public space at this point.

What kind of response have you received from the work you have shared on the streets?

Lots of positive responses.

How do you feel about the movement of street art to galleries?

I feel disillusioned that so many galleries ask us to “pay to play.” I don’t like when it’s so commercialized. It’s frustrating that it’s become so monetized.

What’s ahead?

I’d like to integrate animation into my character and bring him to life on the streets.

I would love to see that!

Interview and photos by Ana Candelaria

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Speaking with Sean Lugo

September 3, 2014

Based in Weehawken, New Jersey, Sean Lugo has been sharing his distinct vision and talents with us not only on the streets of nearby Jersey City, but here in NYC, as well. I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to him.

"Sean Lugo"

When did you first get up? And where?

It was back in 1998; I was 17. I tagged up around my neighborhood in Union City, NJ.

Had you any preferred surfaces back then?

Nope! Any open space was fine.

How did your family feel about what you were doing?

I was living with my sister at the time. She thought I was an idiot!

"Sean Lugo"

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

I remember going to a Mets game with my father and seeing graffiti on the trains and at 5Pointz as we rode by on the 7 line. I was amazed! It was the most graffiti I’d ever seen anywhere. I was about 12 at the time.

What percentage of your day is devoted to art?

Just about all of it! I work as an art handler during the day, and then I spend about five hours each day working on my own art.

Any other interests?

Sports. I love football!

"Sean Lugo"

Any thoughts on the graffiti/ street art divide?

I don’t personally feel the divide. They are both outlets for us to express ourselves.

How do you feel about the movement of graffiti and street art into galleries

I like it! I’d like to see even more gallery owners open their spaces to us. Folks who run galleries need to be more aware of what’s going on in the streets.

How you feel about the role of the Internet in this scene?

I think it’s beautiful.  It’s connected me to so many others.

"Sean Lugo"

Do you have a formal arts education?

No. I’m self-taught.

What’s the riskiest thing you’ve done?

Well, definitely the stupidest was bombing with Werds off the High Line. We climbed up via a truck, and after spending over eight hours up there, we had to jump down to reach the ground.

What inspires you these days?

Concepts. I’m inspired by the masks that people wear as they try to project a false illusion of themselves. Most people are fake. And it is the incongruity between who people appear to be and who they really are that drives my art these days.

"Sean Lugo"

Has your aesthetic been influenced by any particular cultures?

I’m influenced by all cultures – but particularly my own, the Spanish culture.

Do you work with a sketch in your hand, or do you let it flow?

I draw everything out, and I like to choose a spot before I draw.

What is your ideal working environment?

A quiet room with any kind of music in the background.

"Sean Lugo"

Are you generally satisfied with your finished product?

Yes.

How has your work evolved in the past few years?

It’s become more dramatic, and I engage with it more seriously.

How’s that?

I look at life differently than I used to. On August 1, 2011, I was in a car accident in Jersey City. The guy who hit me died, and I almost did. As a result of this trauma, I’ve come to understand just how brief and fragile life is.

And can you tell us something about wheat pastes – your preferred medium?

Yes, I love using wheat pastes because they perfectly mirror life’s temporality.

"Sean Lugo"

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

To spur others to become more creative.

And what about how society views the artist? Any thoughts as to how others view you?

Too many folks view art as a business.

Any favorite artists who share their work on the streets?

So many! But to name a few: LNY, Ekundayo, Vinz, NoseGo

What’s ahead?

I want to continue doing art on the streets and interacting more with public space. I’d love to create an entire, interactive scene just using wheatpastes!

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos 3, 5 and 6 by Lois Stavsky; others courtesy of Sean Lugo.

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