Dusty Rebel Captures Street Life and Art in Eclectic NYC

The Dusty Rebel in action in this still from the documentary Stick To It.

Dusty Rebel has been delivering New York street life and Street Art to you for close to two decades and now he’s bringing it to your photos. A native of the suburbs living in the city, Daniel Albanese aka The Dusty Rebel has a keen sense for the eclectic performers, insurgents, kooks, and iconoclasts who grace our public space and he captures them in their element.

Performer Matthew Silver (2014) Union Square, NYC (© The Dusty Rebel)

Sartorially somewhere betwixt a bemused beekeeper and refined bartender, the Dapper Dan whom wields a camera may appear to be from a more genteel era with his poker face and unassuming demeanor on the sidewalk, but don’t assume. He’s Gotham street-smart and he has his eyes peeled for the next pirouetting diva, barking shaggy activist or furtively sticker slapping Street Artist who he can catch in action.

A collaboration by Street Artists Balu and Art is Trash, NYC (© The Dusty Rebel)

These are the people who give the gritty flavor to a city that has always celebrated quirksome expressions of originality, expressive creativity, cross-eyed wonder, love-lorn poetry and blistering outrage. Sometimes on the same block.

A writer, lecturer, and guide as well as a documentarian, Dusty Rebel launches a new project today with a growing collective of celebrated street artists from around the world who are turning their art into sharable digital stickers called “Street Cuts” with artists like Abe Lincoln Jr, City Kitty, and Hiss.

Performer in Union Square, NYC (© The Dusty Rebel)

We asked him about his experience on the street and how his affinity for New York has brought a trove of his rich observations to so many.

Brooklyn Street Art: You have become somewhat of a fixture on the New York street scene—really immersing yourself in life on the streets. Can you talk about what you like to shoot?

The Dusty Rebel: Much of what I shoot today is what drew me to New York in the first place. I love the vibrant street life of this city, which is what I’m primarily known for documenting: buskers, protests, Street Art, and people who hang out with pigeons. I love that in New York people are free to explore and live outside the box. As much as people want to say ‘New York is dead,’ it’s still an amazing place to be artist or straight-up weirdo.

City Kitty, NYC (© The Dusty Rebel)

BSA:How did you connect with Street Art and how did you forge friendships with Street Artists?

The Dusty Rebel: Since I was kid in the late 80s/early 90s, I was fascinated by graffiti and Street Art, particularly Jim Powers’ “Mosaic Trail” in the East Village—I was so curious to know who made them and what they meant. I loved the idea of people just taking to the street and putting art out there. I grew up in the suburbs just outside of New York City, and I used to sneak into the city every chance I could. I hated the suburbs; the city was a place of freedom.

City Kitty, NYC (© The Dusty Rebel)

As the years went on—and digital cameras made photography more affordable—Street Art became something I loved to document. Then in 2011, I decided to make The Dusty Rebel a public blog rather than just photos I shared privately on Facebook. My friends kept asking to share the photos, so I thought a site would make it easier. I never thought much about the world outside, but soon after, street artists began contacting me to thank me for the photos or asking if they could use them. Then they started inviting me to shoot them in their studios or when they put work out on the street. It might seem weird to some now, but before Banksy came to New York in 2013, there wasn’t a massive army of people shooting Street Art.

Anyway, before I knew it, I went from an observer to a friend of many of these artists. I’ve collaborated with several of them over the years, particularly City Kitty. And I guess in some ways became one, with my Resistance Is Female and Resistance Is Queer ad-takeovers.


A photograph of a photographic takeover for the #ResistanceisFemale campaign, NYC (all © The Dusty Rebel)

BSA: There are many character-based artists working on the streets right now—especially on wheatpastes and stickers. Have you shot many of these?

The Dusty Rebel: I think so. I love original characters who bring us on an adventure in the street. I’m always curious to see what Frank Ape, City Kitty, or one of Chris RWK’s characters are up to. I also love to see what “should” be a flash-in-the-pan kept fresh in creative ways, such as Clint Mario’s ingenious ad-takeovers with ME.


One of Dusty Rebels photos with new stickers from his Street Cuts app. (© The Dusty Rebel)

BSA: What makes you excited to find on NYC streets?

The Dusty Rebel: I’m excited by people using the public sphere to connect with one another. In terms of Street Art, I really love work that’s mysterious and tells a story (Dee Dee is great at this) or the one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces, such as Bunny M, HISS, or REV’s sculptures. Nora Breen blows my mind: She puts video installations out on the street! Her work pushes the boundaries of Street Art and technology in a way I have very rarely seen. And it’s pretty obvious to anyone who follows me that I particularly love finding work by Robert Janz—perhaps New York’s most prolific artist working on the street—who happens to be an 80-something year old.

One of Dusty Rebels photos with new stickers from his Street Cuts app. (© The Dusty Rebel)


Portrait of the artist, photographer, documentarian Daniel Albanes aka The Dusty Rebel (© Gianluca Vassallo)


Meet The Dusty Rebel in person tonight at Arlene’s Grocery as he and number of Street Art friends and fans celebrate the launch party and art show for STREET CUTS.

Here’s the event https://www.eventbrite.com/e/street-cuts-app-launch-party-art-show-tickets-38849397594

And here’s the new Street Cuts APP: https://streetcuts.co/