Last week we brought you the first annual Jersey City Mural Festival with generously scaled murals and unbridled color. Muralism isn’t new but mural festivals are now a dominant vehicle or platform of expression on the streets where artists get up and create community. We have always championed the cause of the artist and cheer when they are given the opportunity to work – better even if they get properly paid for the work that they do.
That said, we still admire the small, uncommissioned, one-off pieces, and we’ve always documented that in whatever city we go to: In a way, that is what we actually consider to be street art. Unsanctioned and undercover, you’ll discover the most curious missives as you hike from mural to mural. Don’t miss them! Enjoy.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring 7 Souls Deep, Adrian Wilson, Below Key, Drecks, Early Riser NYC, Ghaston Art, Hiss, Lunge Box, Miyok, Modomatic, Mort Art, Night Owl, Outer Source, Timothy Goodman, Tyler Ives, and Turtle Caps.
My Dog Sighs is the name of a flawed human being and street artist. Come inside.
According to his descriptions of the artist’s new “Inside” installation in the UK’s only island city of Portsmouth (pronounced PORT-smith), there will be tours in this secret location – ever so because the atmospheric and theatrical work is not officially sanctioned and is staged in an abandoned building.
So it will be a bit of magic when you discover that the British street artist has spared no expense nor level of preparation – including consulting with a sound design team and lighting design team to create his inner world as explained by his own characters. “Street artists are often perceived as ghosts,” he says and goes on to explain that these creatures are somewhat ghosts as well and representative of his inner ‘Quiet Little Voices.’
Whether playful or melancholic, these creatures are strangely familiar to attendees of these tours. The entire project is one which he hopes to develop into a documentary and a textbook for teachers to provide “young people with the creative tools needed to find hope in difficult situations,” showing “how they can use art to empower their local communities.”
Tickets to go Inside will be announced through My Dog Sighs’ mailing list, available on his website www.mydogsighs.co.uk. You can also follow him on Facebook or Instagram for more updates.
Friday 16 July – Sunday 1 August
An undisclosed location in Portsmouth.
Admission: £10 adults / £5 concession / Children are free (but are they really?)
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening: 1. “Bubble Tea” with Sofles 2. Doug Gillem Discusses Stereotypes in Street Art 3. Vero Rivera in Columbia, SC. Via Tost Films
BSA Special Feature: “Bubble Tea” with Sofles
Sofles gives us such beautiful Fridays – with a jump in his step and a flair in the sweep of his arm. It’s bubble time!
Our Expectations of Street Art’s Role in Projecting and Reflecting Values
It is not a surprise that street art reflects the culture back to itself, including elements that some will find objectionable or disgusting – this has always been true. As the so-called “culture” of street art becomes professionalized and monetized and regarded as legitimate by institutions and commercial interests like brands, we continue to hear that it is now being, to some extent, more closely examined. Doug Gillen of FifthWall TV explores criticisms of one artist’s work – FinDac – in regard to Asian tropes and stereotypes.
People have mentioned FinDac’s work for the last half-decade at least, so it is interesting that a current heated awareness regarding identity politics is pushing the conversation further. Truthfully, stereotypes about blacks, gays, the police, media, the military, women, men, religious institutions, politicians, sex roles, gender roles, political parties, geopolitics… have always been on display in myriad forms in street art and graffiti. It can be a worthwhile exercise when we begin to examine them in greater detail.
Vero Rivera in Columbia, SC. Via Tost Films
A commission for a suburban coffee shop mural, this hand painted work by Vero Rivera is a few steps removed from the street art and graffiti scene that first sparked out interest decades ago. The dynamics are different, but the spirit of creativity is the same.
You know the shy kid at the party who won’t hit the dance floor even if Jesus himself begged him – and then he hears his jam and suddenly starts doing flips, tricks, and power moves?
That’s what it felt like last week when all the funk-tech-floral-social-abstract-steez planets spun together into a powerful 2021 solar system at the Jersey City Mural Festival. How many times did you hear the word community, as if we’ve all been starved of it?
And the aesthetics were solid – you would not have guessed how sweet some of these combinations could be – with just enough curation to let the sparks crackle in the gritty oil-coated zones that are surrounding the MANA Contemporary compound. This most diverse generation is now freely tossing any rules and hierarchies out the window; these inheritors of the winds now gathering speed.
The first annual Jersey City Mural Festival brought together dozens of street artists, mural artists, graffiti writers, photographers, and art lovers to this new New Jersey. This festival in another year would have been a festive event just like any other festival – formulas have been discovered for how to mount public cultural events like these around the world – and we’ve been to many.
But this time, the energy was extra charged by the undeniable fact that we’re all emerging to a familiar yet changed world formed by fear, death, insecurity, and longing. Artists were elated to see their peers once again doing what they love doing most: painting outdoors. There is a recognition from the artists, and everybody around that life is precious and the scars left on us by the Pandemic made this event a jubilant one.
The collection of artworks presented here are only a fraction of all the works painted during the festival. Half a dozen of murals were still not completed when we departed. We hope to bring you the rest soon.
The festival unfolded over several days of painting and rain and an oppressive heatwave on two locations in Jersey City. Both locations are the remnants of Jersey City as an industrial powerhouse. The complex in Newark Ave, Mana Contemporary, is now an art center with several galleries, exhibition spaces, and artists’ studios. The complex on Coles Street still conserves its industrial grit. Still, a storage company has replaced the factories, and empty buildings in the decay process appear ready to be demolished.
The Jersey City Mural Festival was presented by Mana Public Arts and the Jersey City Mural Arts Program with the imprimatur of Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop, the city’s Municipal Council, and the Office of Municipal Affairs.
Jose Mertz talks about his mural.
We would like to thank the organizers and production team for all their assistance during the duration of the festival and to Mario at Tost Films for helping man the lift for our final photo session.
Polish artist Nespoon has revived a cottage industry of appreciation for the historical art of lace design, steeping her practice in a sincere study to preserve the work of generations, towns, and regions. For her first mural of the year she borrows a 19th Century French needle lace from the Musée des Beaux-arts et de la Dentelle in Alençon.
Deftly interpreted here, Nespoon’s new work frames a corner building in the city of Callac in French Brittany. Exquisite, not only in the rendering and design of the lace patterning itself, but in the project’s ability to bring the past forward in a newly relevant and even contemporary manner.
The project is part of the Festival écologique d’Arts Urbains.
Straight from the Bay Area – bet you don’t hear that phrase often – here comes the legendary Sylvester!
A Superstar of the disco era long before people even heard of telling you their pronouns, this queen crossed over and back and even had bonafide dancefloor hits. How fitting that queer muralist Josh Katz painted this glamorous portrait to lift spirits in this city where day socializing and nightlife has been hamstrung by the pandemic, even shuttering some gold-plated legends in LGBTQ+ club history.
Katz says he is happy to bring Sylvester out into the street-life, a response to “what I see as a lack of LGBTQ representation in street art.” He promises that he’ll continue painting portraits to honor legacies and increase visibility.
“Sylvester is so loved in San Francisco, and to me they truly embody those classic San Francisco, feel-good funk, disco glamour vibes that we love and have missed so much throughout the pandemic,” he says. “My intention with this mural was to celebrate Sylvester’s life, try to spread a little love, and remind folks that we’ll be back together on the dance floor soon.”
To see more of Josh’s work, see him on Instagram @JKATZART
It comes as no surprise that the explosion of new graffiti in New York is evident across the river in Jersey City, where we have been hanging out the last few day for the Jersey City Mural Festival. And for those who know their history, it will also come as no surprise that we always dig the illegal unapproved organic graffiti and street art as much as that which has received official approval from our city fathers and mothers.
So here’s new pieces and tags from under the bridges, passageways, and inside the abandoned buildings in JC. The looseness of line and exuberance of color combinations tell us that graff kids are feeling at liberty to get up wherever necessary to get out their name. In the oceanic metaphor of ebbs and flows – this wave is flowing, bro.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Acro, Amore, Carbo, Chaos, Chees, Dzel, Gear, Hugo Girl, Jinx, Loser, Manik, MES, Nate Paints, Pesco, Reato, Rozr, Sean 9 Lugo, Serbo, Short, Sophie Xeon, Sugar, and Visit.
Aside from a few breaks for afternoon June monsoons and scattered flash flooding on the greasy streets of this historically industrial region, the frantic and focused paintings by artists were setting Jersey City afire with color and character yesterday. By climbing on rooftops and flying on cherry pickers with a slew of aerosol pilots, our photographer Jaime Rojo got some of the best action in this inaugural mural festival.
The MANA Contemporary complex is comprised of an array of buildings – and many are visible from many passing highways and byways. As the melange of cultures here continues to come out to the streets due to lower Covid numbers and higher vaccine rates, the air is thick with expectation. Having a slew of new artworks from across a spectrum of styles and aesthetic sensibility – you will find much the new additions are directly adjacent to the illegal graffiti that started it all – which is as it should be.
Check out some of the new works here by Beau Stanton, Dasic Fernandez, Elle, Eric Karbeling, Erinkco Studios, Jahru, Max Sansing, MSG, Queen Andrea, Raul Santos, and Ron English.
To learn more about the Jersey City Mural Festival click HERE
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening: 1. Homily to Country by Artist JR 2. Jersey City Artists at Work Painting for the first Mural Festival Here
BSA Special Feature: Homily to Country by Artist JR
“We must throw off the chains of corporatization to save us all,” is the last statement in this narrative about historical, cultural and natural resources being stolen. His statement could have started with that.
Maybe JR will make a project about fairly taxing the rich next.
Jersey City Artists at Work Painting for the first Mural Festival Here
Two homemade videos below of a handful of the participating artists at work in their murals this week for the inaugural edition of the Jersey City Mural Festival.
See the action with Dragon76, José Mertz, L’Amour Supreme, Boy Kong, and Kirza Lopez in action at Mana Contemporary Complex.
Elle, Queen Andrea and Beau Stanton at the Ice Factory Complex
After a lot of planning and with great fanfare Jersey City is launching its inaugural mural festival and BSA is proud to bring it to you as media partner – and we are excited to see familiar and new local talent take over walls in grand style.
After hosting an open call for local artists of all disciplines and aesthetic approach, organizers MANA Public Arts and Jonathan Levine worked with the Jersey City Mural Arts Program to put together a deep field of talents that will impress in its quality and diversity – that’s our prediction anyway.
Since this weekend is the official unveiling to the public, we found a number of artists laboring on walls this week in preparation – and here are process shots as some of the pieces are already taking form.
From old skool graff writers turned fine artists like John Crash Matos, to early street art takeover artist and pop wiseguy Ron English, to the cherished and polished vernacular of Queen Andrea, to the pop-surrealist Dasic Fernandez who’s been crushing it for the last decade all over New York, this marquee is immediately full of heavy hitters you’ll recognize.
We’re also happy to see serious current talents on the roster; you’ll see they’ve invited many of the newest names and hybrid specialists you have been getting familiar with on the street. Considering the work from just the first two days we can say that straight out of the gate, this show rocks already.
To learn more about the Jersey City Mural Festival click HERE
Madrid’s Art Week – who would believe that it could actually happen? And to prove it, we have the 5th Anniversary of Urvanity defiantly strutting from one end of the COAM headquarter to the other. Taking its original inspiration from graffiti, post-graffiti, surrealism, pop, and that broadly applied “Urban Contemporary” tag, Sergio and the Urvanity team have persevered this year again.
Where others have failed, Urvanity has succeeded and grown and even matured – with more than 25 national galleries and others from as far away as New York, Brussels, and Bogotá. This is not about fanboys and big unsubstantiated claims, Urvanity drives for quality, and it shows.
The talks this year revolved around high-caliber artists, gallerists, architects, and curators of projects that have made new pathways and invariably give you insight and inspiration in equal measure. BSA has been proud to sponsor this thinking-persons fair, along with the artists and creators; we even hosted their talks a couple of years ago and loved the folks we met there.
Here are a few images of fine art works evolving from the street practice of a number of artists whose names you may recognize.
To see the complete list of galleries and the artists exhibited with the available works click HERE
Frankfurt-based ultra-talent Case Maclaim is with the Urvanity Art Fair this week, and he has created a new mural in Madrid’s old, historical city center. His work is being shown by Brussells Ruby Gallery, along with that of street artists EverSiempre and Wasted Rita. Still, he just wanted to go big with a tribute to children’s imagination.
“I gave the viewer a new character of a yet unknown fairy tale,” Maclaim says of the confident kid wearing a mermaid costume. “I have high hopes that it will encourage especially the young audience to come up with their very own story.”
On another wall, tall and thin, on calle Fuencarral 47, artist Helen Bur painted a figure as a tribute to her mother and to the recently departed Street Artist Hyuro. She says she pays homage to these two women – ‘Humilty, strength, elegance & poetry of the subtle.”