Wynwood

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Last month during Miami Art Week, the Bushwick Collective once again collaborated with the Mana Urban Arts Project in facilitating first-rate public artwork in Wynwood, Miami. Pictured above is a mural by Louis Masai, along with an installation by Davis McCarty. Here are several more works captured by street photographer Karin du Maire.

Netherlands-based Michel Velt

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West Coast-based Chor Boogie — in front of mural — and Miami’s Trek6

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Brazilian artist Sipros

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LA-based Shepard Fairey aka Obey Giant in front of one segment of his huge mural

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Chilean artist Fiorello Podesta aka Fio

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All photos by Karin du Maire

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While down in Miami, I met up with Bronx native Mastro whose masterful graffiti designs and styles can be found on walls, hats and a range of surfaces throughout NYC, Miami and beyond. 

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Can you recall any early graffiti memories?

My earliest memory is riding the 6 train to Pre-K. Everything around me was bombed. I remember thinking, “What is this magic?” Growing up in the Bronx, I saw classic NYC graffiti everywhere. Seen, Mad and Pjay were among the writers I saw on my day-to-day commute.

When and where did you first hit the streets?

When I was in 5th grade, I started with stupid, little tags – like Shadow and Ace – all along Zerega Avenue. I was also getting up in my school. I thought I was “King!” But I was a toy.

What inspired you to get up?

Graffiti was everywhere. How could I not?

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When and how did you come up with the name Mastro?

I was in my mid-teens. It was actually part of my name, and none of the aliases made any sense.

Did you paint with a crew back then or were you largely alone?

I generally liked to keep it solo and quiet.

And thse days?

I paint both solo and with others. But I don’t think the crew should define the writer. Rather, the writer should define the crew.

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Do you have a formal art education?

Yes. I have a BA in Architecture from Pratt.

Did you go on to work as an architect?

After I graduated, I worked as an architect for a while. But at the same time I began customizing hats. And that business took off almost immediately – and was a lot more fun!  I thought, “Why should I work for someone else when I can do better on my own?”

And just how are you doing on your own?

I’m doing great. I never expected my business to go this far. Besides customizing hats, I get paid to do body painting and lettering. And I’m also commissioned to produce graffiti murals and installations.

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What would you say is the key to your success?

It’s a matter of my being in the right place at the right time. And that is something I work on doing.

Although you are based in NYC, you seem to spend more time on the road then you do back home.

Yes, I’ve been traveling just about full-time across the U.S. I try to cover as many music/art festivals and fairs that I possibly can. I tend to hang out where there are lots of people all the time.

What are some of the challenges of leading such a nomadic life?

The biggest challenge is having to do my own laundry.

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As you didn’t forge a career as an architect, would you way that your Pratt education was worthwhile?

Yes! It definitely taught me how to become a better artist. But it did not teach me how to sell my technique.

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

My parents get a kick out of it!

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

Technically – all of it. I create non-stop both on and off the wall.  My art is my “work.” The only aspect of it that actually feels like work is when I’m moving and lifting materials.

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What advice would you offer young artists who would like to build a successful art business?

Always have access to your presentation portfolio. Be prepared to share it with anyone at any time. Know how to write a proposal, a contract and a rider sheet. And be ready to easily accept all types of payment from credit cards to PayPal.

How do you feel about the role of the Internet and social media in this scene?

I don’t like the Internet. I don’t like having to use technology to promote myself. But I can’t deny that it does increase recognition, awareness and sales.

That would seem to be a good thing.

But social media can easily turn you into a techno-slut. Too many people seem to depend on social media to increase their value. It’s your work that should be valued, not your number of “likes” or followers. Back when I first started, we did it for the love of it; now folks do it for the “likes.” And back in the day, you had no idea what a writer in Australia was doing unless you saw it in a magazine. These days, it is just far too easy to borrow and regurgitate styles from half way around the world.

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Are there any particular cultures – or artists — that have influenced your aesthetic?

Growing up in the Morris Park section of the Bronx, I was influenced, of course, by everything that was happening around me – graffiti, hip-hop, breakdancing. The artist who had the hugest influence on my aesthetic was Wane COD, a master of intricate simplicity.

What are your favorite places to paint?

Abandoned places that are withering away, and those places that have stood the test of time where nature is flourishing

How has your artwork evolved in the past few years?

I’m trying to make it crisper and smoother. I would like all demographics to be able to understand my writing.

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

I’m here to create. I don’t think about it.

What’s ahead?

Building and creating wherever life takes me. Living my life as a “permanent vacation,” earning money doing what I love.

Note: Photos are of artworks seen in NYC and in Miami. Pictured in the third photo are: Mastro, Eskae and Disem — with Mastro and Eskae trading names.

Photo credits: 1-3, 7 & 8  Lois Stavsky; 4 & 5 Tara Murray; and 6 Mastro; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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While in Miami this past week, I visited Chor Boogie‘s current exhibit, Heiros Gamos: A Vision of Feminine Power, at Wynwood’s Macaya Gallery. I  also had the opportunity to speak to its curator, Daniel Stanford.

I’ve been mesmerized by Chor Boogie‘s aesthetic since I first saw his vibrant murals on the streets of various cities several years ago. But I don’t often get to see his work in gallery settings. What spurred you to curate an exhibit of Chor Boogie‘s artworks?

Patrick Glémaud, Macaya Gallery‘s director, and I met Chor Boogie during Art Basel 2015.  After viewing several of his artworks, Patrick felt that the Macaya Gallery would be the ideal place to showcase Chor Boogie‘s distinct aesthetic. And I was pleased to have the opportunity to curate an exhibit of his works.

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What is it about Chor Boogie’s aesthetic that appeals to you?

I was taken by his level of precision and complexity. His technique is superior.

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And as is evident in his murals that have surfaced in public spaces, Chor Boogie‘s choice of colors is always brilliant.  His works consistently arouse both my senses and my mind. Just what is going on here?

These works — as the title suggests — reference a sacred union. The artworks pose the question, “Sacred or profane?” as they present a vision of feminine power. Aesthetic elements of the Rococo and Baroque periods, along with Madonna iconography, are reinterpreted through the medium of spray paint and contemporary street art styles.

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What challenges did you face in curating this exhibit? 

The works currently on display are quite diverse and also very rich. The biggest challenge was presenting a variety of distinct works in a balanced way.

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You certainly seem to have achieved that! What’s ahead for Macaya Gallery?  

Our next exhibit is a collective show featuring works by Emma DunlaveyFrançois Duerinckx and Mercedes Lasarte.  A select group of Chor Boogie‘s paintings will remain, and a series of his political works will be featured later this year.

Images:

1. Chor Boogie, The King and Eye, on the exterior of Macaya Gallery

2. Chor Boogie, Immaculate Conception

3. Chor Boogie, The Silver Queens, close-up

4. E. Bast in collaboration with Chor Boogie, The Nine Virgins, close-up

5. Chor Boogie in collaboration with Daniel Stanford, The Color Visions of Raquel

Photos: 1 courtesy of Daniel Stanford; 2-4 Lois Stavsky and 5 courtesy of Chor Boogie

Note: To find out about the inspiration behind this body of work, check out Chor Boogie Shines Love Into Macaya Gallery by Alexandra Martinez in last week’s Miami New Times.

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What follows are a few more images representative of the wonderfully diverse range of murals gracing Wynwood Walls:

Chinese-born DALeast

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West Coast-based Cryptik

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South African artist Faith47

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Baltimore-based Gaia

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Bronx-based John Matos aka Crash

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Lithuanian born Ernest Zacharevic

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Photos by Lois Stavsky

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In collaboration with the Mana Urban Arts Project, the Bushwick Collective transformed Wynwood’s former RC Cola Factory into a Mecca of first-rate street art and graffiti. During Miami Art Week, celebrated artists from across the globe painted alongside local Miami and NYC-based artists. Here are a few more images from among the dozens of murals I saw last week while visiting Wynwood:

London-based James Cochran aka Jimmy C

"Jimmy C"

London-based Shok1

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NYC-based Giz RIS

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NYC-based Lady Aiko

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Dutch artist David Louf aka Mr June

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Miami-based Hoxxoh

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West Coast-based Christina Angelina

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First image is a close-up from a huge mural by David Sepulveda aka Rimx

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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A stylistically diverse series of portraits of musicians  — ranging from Beethoven to David Bowie, RIP — can be found on NW 22nd and 1st Avenue in Wynwood. Curated by Tristan Eaton for Space 52, this mural project was presented by B&A during Art Basel Miami. Here are a few more of the beautifully executed portraits:

West Coast-based Esao Andrews does Bob Dylan

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West Coast-based Richard Henderson AKA Hauser does Ralf Hutter of Kraftwerk

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West Coast-based Drew Merritt does George Harrison 

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West Coast-based David Flores does David Bowie

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West Coast-based Cyrcle does Beethoven

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New Zealand-based Askew One does Billie Holiday

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Opening image: Project curator Tristan Eaton’s portrait of Afrika Bambaataa

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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"Rafael Sliks"

While in Miami this past week, I had the opportunity to visit the grounds of the Jose De Diego Middle School. On the edge of Wynwood, its students are among the city’s most economically disadvantaged.  Over 600 youngsters, who had been deprived of an arts education due to insufficient funding, now attend a school that is also a wondrous outdoor museum. Curious about it all, I spoke to Don Rimx, one of the many artists who had participated in the school’s amazing transformation.

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How did you become involved in this extraordinary project?

Soon after I moved to Miami, I met Robert Skran of WynwoodMap.com, a site that documents the public art that surfaces in Wynwood. A few months later, he invited me to participate in this particular project, the RAW Project, in partnership with the Wynwood Arts District Association.

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What was the goal of this project? Did it have a particular mission?

One goal, of course, was to transform a drab, blank concrete canvas into a vibrant outdoor gallery. It was also conceived as a means to raise funds to enable the school to restore its arts program that had been lost to budget cuts.

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When did the actual painting begin?

We began in November and most of the murals were completed by early December.

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How did the students respond to the entire process?

They loved it. They were fascinated. They loved watching us paint, and they kept on asking us questions.

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What kinds of questions did they ask you? 

Questions like: Why are you painting this? Where did your idea come from? How do you do this? How long will it take you to finish it? Why are you painting sticks?

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Back in December when Art Basel was in town, the school’s makeover attracted so many street art aficionados and art lovers. What’s happening these days?

The entire community loves the murals. The art on these walls have brought us all closer together. When I pass by, I often see teachers taking students on tours of the murals. The kids are always interested in learning something new about them and about the artists. And because so many of the artists traveled to their school from across the globe, there is so much to learn!

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This really is fabulous! It would be wonderful if the Jose De Diego Middle School could serve as a model to other schools — on all grade levels — everywhere!

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The murals pictured above are just a small sampling of what can be seen on the walls of the Jose De Diego Middle School:

1. Brazilian artist Rafael Sliks

2. Australian born, Berlin-based Reka

3. Puerto Rican artist Bikismo

4. French artist MTO (left) and Mexican artist Paola Delfín

5. Norwegian stencil artist Martin Whatson

6. West Coast-based Madsteez (left) and Miami-based Axel Void

7. Puerto Rican artist Don Rimx currently based in Miami  — with son, Kye, standing on bottom right. (I’d asked him to take me to his favorite mural!)

8. Miami-based Peruvian artist Diana Contreras

9. Miami-based the Hox

Photos and post by Lois Stavsky

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