“I Art Joburg” with Monica Campana in South Africa

Today we welcome Monica Compana to BSA to share with you her experiences during a recent Street Art/community program in Johannesburg, South Africa that took place in September. As one of the principal originators of Atlanta’s Living Walls festival, Campana brings a wizened eye to the events as they unfolded, and presents here what she observed and experienced. Special thanks to Martha Cooper, who shares with BSA images that display her personal vision of Joburg and some layouts from her new zine “Soweto/Sowebo”.

Considered one of the wealthiest cities in Africa, Johannesburg is not only rich in gold and diamonds, but also rich in arts and culture. In the month of September, Johannesburg hosted the largest mural project in the city and possibly even the continent.

I Art Joburg brought the artists Espo, ROA, Cameron Platter, Falko, Remed and graffiti photographer legend Martha Cooper to South Africa to create art in the streets, start a dialogue about street art in the city and to document a month where artists worked together alongside a commercial production team and community members to bring color to Joburg and Soweto.

ROA (photo © Martha Cooper)

“Color creates energy, energy creates inspiration and inspiration creates change. It is our responsibility to inspire ourselves to inspire others to inspire the change. Art is the remedy for this,” says Ricky Lee Gordon, organizer and curator of I Art Joburg.

Gordon’s carefully selected list of renowned street artists not only managed to put the festival amongst one of the best ones of the year, but also it created a chemistry between artists and community. With 6 murals installed around the Maboneng Precinct it hosted a night of lectures and the screening of Espo’s “Love Letters to You” documentary. The precinct is also referred to as “a place of light”, as it is a hub for young creatives and artists, and it also hosted a gallery exhibit by the participating artists.

ROA (photo © Monica Campana

To inspire kids from a local school, organizers created a workshop and a mural with kids in Soweto, a name synonymous in the northern hemisphere with the historic anti-apartheid black resistance movement that inspired so many artists in the 70s-80s around the world. The name Soweto has an auditory similarity to the neighborhood of Sowebo in Baltimore, which photographer Martha Cooper has been documenting as a personal passion for nearly a decade.

Already in Joburg to document all of the murals and exhibit her own work, she took the experience and project to a whole new level with the development of her zine titled: “Soweto/Sowebo.” Martha owns a house in South West Baltimore, also known as Sowebo, an area so affected by urban decay that it is often compared to Soweto in South Africa. Needless to say, when she  arrived in Soweto she immediately saw the similarities and she decided to create a zine honoring the richness of both cultures.  It was fascinating to see through her work how these two places, so far away from each other geographically in two completely different continents, could pass as one and the same.

ROA (photo © Martha Cooper)

Soweto/ Sowebo was not the only example of this wonderful dialogue. Each artist tried to leave something to the city of Joburg that would not only last for a long time visually, but something that could continue to spark some kind of dialogue. During my stay in Joburg I was able to spend quite a bit of time with ROA and Martha Cooper.  It was amazing to see how their easily  they interacted with the people on the streets of the city and even though they had been there for only about a week by the time that I arrived, Martha and ROA had already made dear friends in the neighborhood.

ROA and Falko (photo © Martha Cooper)

On the subject of friends we made: Bongani Mathebula, my Joburg tour guide, is the one that stole my heart. Seeing the city through the eyes of a local 25 year old artist was very inspirational. He told me that projects like I Art Joburg are what the city of Johannesburg needs – an outsider’s view and conversation starter to inspire the local community.

“Artists are like heroes. Art is crazy, people need to let that happen. More art, more crazy communication and growth,” says Bongani.

I hope to see more mural festivals happen in Joburg and Soweto. I know the artists who were part of the project were left wanting more. So, who knows? Maybe this really is just the start to a much bigger conversation in Joburg! Fingers crossed!

Remed (photo © Monica Campana)

Falko (photo © Monica Campana)

Espo (photo © Martha Cooper)

Espo (photo © Martha Cooper)

Espo (photo © Martha Cooper)

Espo (photo © Martha Cooper)

Martha Cooper’s “Soweto/Sowebo Zine” (photo © Martha Cooper)

Martha Cooper’s “Soweto/Sowebo Zine” (photo © Martha Cooper)

Martha Cooper’s “Soweto/Sowebo Zine” (photo © Martha Cooper)



Please note: All content including images and text are ©, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!



Read more

The Power of Pun : Steve “ESPO” Powers’ Signs in Brooklyn

Philadephia born New York Street Artist Stephen Powers AKA ESPO has been covering walls in Brooklyn since last summer with puns, phrases, and messages that hide in plain sight. Borrowing from a visual vocabulary of mid 20th century commercial signage and injecting his low-brow sarcasm and a knack for wordplay, the former graffiti writer perfected this kind of lettering more than a decade ago doing non-commissioned street art work in broad daylight on storefront grates in dilapidated New York neighborhoods.

Steve ESPO Powers (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Like his barking carney signage for famous Coney Island, the work has all the subtlety of a cannonball. But you may be bamboozled. The sharply sweet uptown fonts and punchy retro palette could look like he’s giving you the straight dope, but a second glance reveals the winking eye of a court jester.  With an advertisers  sensibility, his recent expansive public art installations  – “Love Letters” to Philadelphia, Syracuse, and now Brooklyn – have a tough-as-nails enamel gloss while the soft center swirls a sentiment more gooey, even maudlin.

Steve ESPO Powers (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Using phrases snatched directly from Brooklyn folks conversations on the street as well as his penchant for the parlance of snake oil salesmen, Powers yells boldly these non-sequitur and illusory missives across a parking garage, regularly looking back to see if “yah heard?”.  It’s what emotional signage this size demands and gets, if only for a second.

Steve ESPO Powers (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Steve ESPO Powers (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Steve ESPO Powers (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Steve ESPO Powers (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Steve ESPO Powers (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Steve ESPO Powers (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Steve ESPO Powers (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Steve ESPO Powers (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Steve ESPO Powers (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Steve ESPO Powers (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Read more

Logan Hicks Sings “Pretty Ugly” at Opera Tonight

Brooklyn’s Own Logan Hicks Debuts New Solo Show.

brooklyn-street-art-logan-hicks-opera-gallery-5Logan Hicks “Sleepy” (photo © Logan Hicks)

Opera Gallery, that is…as long as we are playing with words.

What you can’t play with is the cinematic experiences Logan is evoking with his black and white portraiture and his ever-growing love affair with architecture, street scenes, industrial machinations and the vanishing point.  Logan produces generously in this show of indoor and outdoor scenes, ever more complex, and now with some abstraction and laser etching for balance. Additional warmth of the regal sort emanates from his commanding portraits, many of them African Chiefs whom he met and photographed last year while working on a project in The Gambia, which he reported on here and here for BSA.


Logan Hicks “African Chief 2” (photo © Logan Hicks)


Logan Hicks “Downward Spiral” (photo © Logan Hicks)


Logan Hicks “African Chief 1” (photo © Logan Hicks)


Logan Hicks “Artery” (photo © Logan Hicks)


Logan Hicks “Single Helix” (photo © Logan Hicks)


Logan Hicks “Artery Study” (photo © Logan Hicks)


Logan Hicks “African Chief 3” (photo © Logan Hicks)

Logan Hicks’ Pretty Ugly.
Opera Gallery, New York
Opening Reception Thursday, June 2nd
6:00 to 9:00 pm
Read more

JR’s Movie, “Women Are Heroes” comes out 01.12


Photo credit: ©

Parisian Street Artist JR takes photos of people, creates giant billboard sized posters of them, and plasters them across roofs, trains, steps, river canals, barns, entire neighborhoods, you name it. All over the world.

“So what?,” Herschel at the corner grocery would say, “Coca Cola has been doing that for years and you don’t make a film about it.”

Trailer – Women Are Heroes – English Version
Uploaded by JR

In this case the man behind the camera is engaged with the stories of his subject, people he discovered as he traveled to places like Kenya, Phnonm Penh, and Rio de Janiero. As he talked with locals he was drawn to the simple and profound pain of women who have suffered the indignities of war, poverty, and loss.  By engaging with the grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and children who comprise more than one half the worlds population but suffer wars’ cost at a much higher rate, JR conveys their humanity, their warmth, and sometimes their hope.

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Copyright-JR-Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh. Photo credit: ©

The TED Prize Winner for 2011, JR showed his movie “Women Are Heroes”  at the Cannes Film Festival last year.  In about 10 days, beginning in France, it will have wide release for the rest of us to see.

Read more

Barbara Krakow Gallery Presents: The Annual Aids Benefit Exhibition 2010 (Boston, MA)

Barbara Krakow Gallery

The Annual AIDS Benefit Exhibition 2010
December 11, 2010 – December 17, 2010

Anything But Paper Prayers
All works available for a $350 donation to the Boston Pediatric Aids Initiative or The African Aids Initiative

The Annual AIDS Benefit Exhibition 2010
Barbara Krakow Gallery
10 Newbury Street, Boston
Saturday, December 11, 10am
There is a new letterpress version of Cash For Your Warhol included in this group show. All works available for a $350 donation to the Boston Pediatric Aids Initiative or The African Aids Initiative (you pick). Kicks off at 10am and the good stuff goes super quick!
Read more

Wide Open Walls: Logan Hicks Post Game Gambia


Logan is now back in chilly Brooklyn and looking over some of his images of beautiful weather, beautiful people, and painting in The Gambia. Now that the seven artists have returned back, the stories have returned with them. One thing for sure is that they all treasured the kids, and that the locals appreciated the art.  In addition to being a stencil artist, Logan is also a talented photographer and he shares some images here with you.

Local Kids. (Photo © Logan Hicks)

Local kids had different reactions to the appearance of the camera, and were very interested in the visiting artists. (Photo © Logan Hicks)

Eelus (Photo © Logan Hicks)

Eelus updated his hit “Raven Haired” with this version just for the WOW project. (Photo © Logan Hicks)

Mysterious Al reckons his work (Photo © Logan Hicks)

Mysterious Al reckons his work. Think he should add a little purple? (Photo © Logan Hicks)

Broken Crow at work with fans (Photo © Logan Hicks)

Broken Crow continues under close supervision. (Photo © Logan Hicks)

Lucy McLauchlan Birds (Photo © Logan Hicks)

Lucy McLauchlan painted a couple of birds on this fence. (Photo © Logan Hicks)

Broken Crow piece on a hut (Photo © Logan Hicks)
Broken Crow left one of their lions on a home (Photo © Logan Hicks)

Lucy McLauchlan collaboration with local kids. The kids did the faces. (Photo © Logan Hicks)
Lucy McLauchlan created this collaboration with local kids at their school. She did the sunshine and they did the faces. (Photo © Logan Hicks)

Xens takes a brake to chat with the locals. (Photo © Logan Hicks)
Xenz takes a break from the birds on the wire to chat with new pals. (Photo © Logan Hicks)

Xenz Trompe L'oeil (Photo © Logan Hicks)
Xenz got site-specific with this Trompe L’oeil (Photo © Logan Hicks)

Xenz and Logan Hicks collaboration (Photo © Logan Hicks)
Xenz doing his bit on a collaboration with and Logan Hicks  (Photo © Logan Hicks)


(all images © Logan Hicks)

Read more

Wide Open Walls Ends: The Stories Begin

Brooklyn-Street-Art-Gambia-Diaries-Wow-Oct22010Wide Open Walls officially ends today, and the artists are on their way home. “All the UK artists fly back tomorrow, we all expect a heroes welcome, keys to the country and an open top bus parade,” Says Eelus on his Twitter account.

It has been a trip they won’t forget, and we are hearing bits and pieces about the experience as they return. – Large Insects, lots of DEET, optimistic kids, incredibly lush beauty, crushing heat, and enthusiastic fans watching you while you paint; all of these things reoccur in the retelling of the stories. Eelus hurt his heel just at the end of the journey and is looking forward to resting up and sorting through pictures. Logan Hicks is back in Brooklyn and will be showing us some of his pics, along with a video he’s working on.

Here are some shots from Ian Cox and some observations of the experience.

Broken Crow at work (Photo © Ian Cox)
Broken Crow at work (Photo © Ian Cox)

“The aim of the game is to paint as much as you can before 1pm, trying to do anything after that is a sweaty struggle in this ridiculous heat and humidity.” ~ Eelus

Mysterious Al Tag. (Photo ©  Ian Cox)
Mysterious Al Tag. (Photo © Ian Cox)

Mysterious Al caught a few tags and a few mosquito bites too, and contends that DEET soaked mosquito spray repellent actually removes tattoos.

“Rashes, welts, bites and hives. My body is 90% covered in them. Why would I get bitten on the elbow? I don’t know, but it’s happened. I’ve also crushed a snail the size of a tennis-ball, seen spiders the size of dinner plates (almost) and encountered all manner of vile insects that are straight out of the ravine scene in that King Kong remake.” ~ Mysterious Al from the WOW blog.

Logan Hicks Stencils (Photo © Ian Cox)
Logan Hicks Stencils (Photo © Ian Cox)

“If the apocalypse comes, I don’t think the fat f*ckers that are sitting around in their lazy-boy recliners with a beer in one hand and the remote in the other are going to be the ones that survive. It’s going to be the Gambians” ~ the eloquent Logan Hicks

Xenz at work (Photo © Ian Cox)
Xenz at work (Photo © Ian Cox)

Read more

Fun Friday 10.22.10


Brooklyn-Street-Art-JR-Ted-PrizWEBCongratulations JR !

There is an idea worth spreading! JR, Street Artist, is the 2011 recipient of the TED prize:

“JR creates what might be called “pervasive art.” Working with a team of volunteers in various urban environments, he mounts enormous black-and-white photo canvases that spread on the buildings of the slums around Paris, on the walls in the Middle East, on broken bridges in Africa, and across the favelas of Brazil. These images become part of the local landscape and capture people’s attention and imagination around the world.”

Read more on the TED site and watch this gorgeous and moving video testifying to gutsy proactive engagement with the world and the power of the creative spirit that transcends silly art school armchair criticism.

Chris Stain for No Longer Empty

Chris Stain (with help from his buddy Burt Reynolds) transforms an 84 foot wall in Brooklyn with a tribute to the working class that built this city, specifically those who worked in Dumbo and the Navy Yard.

“30 Days in Brooklyn”

Rusty Ralston wants to bring his photo essay out to the streets of New York in December. He needs your help too!

Click here for his Kickstarter campaign

Brooklyn Artist Tara McPherson Prepares for Show at Jonathan Levine


To know her is to love her. Hell, we don’t even know her but still love her from afar… as her reputation as an artist and a fine person percolates around here in Brooklyn. Also, what a great role model for girls and young women who want to make their life their art and their art their life.  Check out preview pics over at Arrested Motion.

Beautiful Losers

Recently released in it’s entirety, this influential and beautiful film is now available to you here for free. It’s the story of a group of artist kids on Manhattan’s Lower East Side who encouraged each other to continue to experiment and grow – in only the germinating way that NYC can do it. We know how important community is for artists, and thankfully New York is still a fertile soil for discovery and innovation.

Read more

Wide Open Walls: The Gambia Diaries


The Street Artists have arrived in The Gambia

Near the giant river of Senegal the seven visiting Street Artists are unpacked and acclimated for two weeks (October 12-26) of painting. With a welcome from Lawrence Williams, artist and co-founder of WOW (Wide Open Walls) and of a huge ecological and cultural project in the area of Makasutu, they’re blown away with the natural beauty and enthusiastic hospitality.


With UK Street Artist Eelus as the curator and local artist collective Bushdwellers as hosts, the team is ready; Lucy McLauchlan, Logan Hicks, Mysterious Al, Broken Crow (John Grider and Mike Fitzsimmons), and Xenz. Also on board is photographer Ian Cox who will capture as much of the action as possible in such a spread-out project covering many towns.


The visiting Street Artists first met with village chiefs of local towns to discuss the project, it’s scope, and the various spots that artists will be getting up on. In stark contrast to the rough and tumble reception a Street Artist may encounter in gritty metropolitan areas in other parts of the world, a true spirit of welcoming has greeted the artists from the leaders of the 14 towns. With the intention of encouraging greater tourism and improving the local economy, the initial transformation plan was primarily for the village of Kubuneh but now includes others in the Ballabu area.


“The optimism that exists here is hard to explain,” says Brooklyn Street Artist Logan Hicks, who has been pretty blown away by the experience so far and also by the open welcoming kids, many of whom he captured with his camera. “It’s odd going to a country where the kids are happy to just see you – I am so use to the New York way of life.”


He’s also quick to note the very little they have in material wealth, and is glad that his Street Art work will help draw attention and hopefully money to the local towns. Says Logan, “The other day we had this big meeting with the village chiefs from the surrounding villages. All 14 chiefs were in attendance in their traditional gear, so it was a pretty big deal. But what floored me was that these villages were actually fighting over which village we should paint first!”brooklyn-street-art-The-Gambia-Diaries-logan-hicks-10-10-1-web

With “The Gambia Diaries”, BSA will be bringing you regular updates and exclusive images (like these from Mr. Hicks ) over the course of WOW.

You can participate! If you have questions you’d like to ask the artists, please email us at


For now, take a look at some of these great images of folks from the area and pray for Logan to have the courage to sleep in his jungle lodge!  He’s seems like such a big brutish headbanger, but he contends that there are lizards and spiders the size of his hand back at the lodge. We don’t have those back in Brooklyn, although sometimes the rats in the subway tracks are as big as cats. Good luck Logan!



Read more