Welcome to BSA Images of the Week. Our hearts and minds are heavy and quiet this weekend as we contemplate the two decades and lost lives and liberties since September 11, 2001.
It’s impossible to know what the world would have looked like had those fateful events not taken place twenty years ago, and only a handful would have predicted that it would have been used as a springboard for more wars that cost more lives. As the country pulls out of Afghanistan so badly and obviously, a real examination of the soul is taking place. There is no real purpose served by trying to extricate the pain of loss locally from those sufferred globally as a result of the events of September 11th, except for us New Yorkers to reflect on how our city is forever changed. Thankfully, New Yorkers prove time and again that we are also forever determined to overcome and to come together.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring BAT, Below Key, BK Foxx, Chris RWK, Chupa, De Grupo, Early Riser NYC, Fumero, Futura, Hand Up, Manik, Modomatic, Naito Oru, Pope, Rezo, and Toofly.
We like findings spots that feature walls slammed with street art in a most organic way, the aesthetic signature of a current ecosystem mid-evolution. These spots are often a magnet for street artists to get up in NYC, L.A., Berlin, Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, Barcelona, Mexico City, Miami, Boston, London, and beyond. Usually illegal, they allow the artists a quick way to safely leave their imprint on the chaos of the city, a welcome to international artists on their spraycation as well as locals who relish the feeling of standing among peers. The art is usually limited to small original pieces, stickers, and posters, wheat pastes.
We call them “magnet walls” – and NYC has had its share of them. Now, however, they are increasingly endangered because of Gentrification and the voracious real estate market in the city with its apparent never-ending appetite for building new soaring soul-free glass towers. One spot is still welcoming artists to its walls: Freeman Alley. This favorite enclave, composed of two long walls along a narrow corridor in the Lower East Side, is constantly updated in an organic way with contributions by local and international artists. We have surveyed it for years, often publishing our findings in the popular “BSA Images Of The Week.”
Last week we rolled by the alley again and to our surprise, we discovered a gate ajar; one that leads the lobby of a relatively new hotel. Usually locked with a code, this secret Bowery spot instructs guests to enter through the alley. Once inside, they’re greeted with a nicely landscaped, small-scale courtyard leading to a lobby. Surprisingly, it is now bursting with new stickers, posters, stencils, paintings, collages, wild imaginings. Technically, this is a legal magnet wall – but most of the artists whose work is on display here can also be found illegally on the walls of the alley. Here’s a fresh selection just for you:
Ah, never mind, there’s gold in these here streets.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring 4sakn, Adrian Wilson, Against Dgrams, Billy Barnacles, Captain Eyeliner, Corn Queen, De Grupo, DLove, Eye Sticker, Goblin, Mister Alek, Moka, More Less Eveything, Plannedalism, Sara Lynne Leo, Stikman, Sule, The Art of Will Power, Trace1, Werd Smoker, and Winston Tseng .
Art on the street may have foretold this old tale; men using power and pride to let their hands and words wander.
We aren’t gloating with this news, simply adding it to the very contemporary list we all have; full of gruesome details of aggressors and victims from the last few years, from Dr. Larry Nasar abusing gymnasts to Jeffrey Epstein luring underage girls to his private island for his pleasure and the pleasure of his famous guests to the movie producer Harvey Weinstein insisting on sexual favors in exchange for movie roles, to Scott Rudin verbally abusing his assistants, to Roger Ailes demanding to sleep with newsreaders, to a certain former president boasting about grabbing “pussy” and getting away with it.
Now it’s Governor Cuomo of New York State who resigns; damaging to his father’s name no doubt, and to his three daughters as well, tainting the legacy of his own accomplishments.
Faced with the mounting possibility of getting impeached by the State Legislature today he opted to give us a lecture about the government’s role on behalf of its citizens, then resigned matter of factly.
He didn’t mention what men in power are not supposed to do; harass and intimidate and fondle, as he is accused of. Instead, he mentioned cultural boundaries and norms that are all too new for him to be hip to. And no one buys it. In a stilted and uncomfortable manner, he appeared to blame everyone and everything else in the universe, this fearless leader.
The system shouldn’t protect predatory behavior, and from accounts of people in his circle, there were many in positions of power who didn’t speak up for years. If that is true, then that is part of our problem that we collectively need to improve and in doing so the victims who bravely come forward will hopefully be protected and supported as well. We’ll leave it to the professionals to dissect his character but we wonder how often men lose their moral compass in part because of the people they surround themselves with.
When we were kids some peoples’ mothers warned, “Tell me the company you keep and I’ll tell you who you are”.
If the multiple and varied accusations are true, Cuomo has no excuse for his behavior, and resigning was the only option – at least to preserve the dignity of the office we granted him.
What the hell just happened? Has it been a year? Or has it been 10 years? Or just one long nightmare/daymare? Or has it been 10 years? Did we already ask that?
In March 2020 we awoke to a world that was transforming before all of our eyes, yet we felt so cut-off from it and each other. The first days seem so long ago as we mark the first anniversary of the pandemic. Still, the initial shock of those days resonates in our chests so strongly that we confidently talk about a collective global trauma that has indelibly marked a generation.
From Stockholm to Mexico City to Barcelona to Bethlehem to New York to LA, BSA brought you street art that was responding with fear, derision, critique, hope, and humor to the never-static, always evolving barrage of Covid news. Stuck inside and afraid to expose ourselves to each other, we New Yorkers became accustomed to experiencing the outdoors only through our windows, connecting with neighbors we’ve never met who were also banging pots and pans or clapping and waving and yelling.
We listened to ambulances screaming past our windows every half hour or so during those first weeks, imagining the torn families, the terrified fellow New Yorkers now being rushed to the hospital and separated from their loved ones without a goodbye, gasping for air. We wondered if we would be next.
When we did go to the streets, they were empty – or nearly. In New York this was unheard of. In this bustling, noisy metropolis, we experienced a daily disconcerting quiet. That is, until the killing of George Floyd by cops finally pushed the anger/anxiety into the streets all summer.
The deadly hotspot of New York quelled, but the fires of Covid spread west, grabbing communities who thought they would avoid impact. At the same time, local, state, and national leaders fumbled and argued or famously callously ignored the desperation of citizens, occasionally admirably filling the shoes they were elected to occupy, often misstepping through no fault of their own.
We have no particular wisdom to offer you today beyond the obvious; this pandemic laid bare inequity, social and racial and class fault-lines, the shredded social net, the effect of institutional negligence, the ravages of 40 years of corporate privatization, and the power of community rising to the occasion to be in service to one another in ways that made us all more than proud.
Here are some of our favorite Covid-themed street art pieces from over the last year, a mere sampling of the artistic responses. Interspersed we paste screenshots of the daily events (via Wikipedia) in 2020 that shaped our lives, and our society.
We mourn the losses of family and friends and the broken hearts and minds in all of our communities. And we still believe in the power of art to heal and the power of love to balance our asymmetries.
As NYC went on complete lock-down and New Yorkers were ordered to remain in their homes in complete isolation the city’s residents organically joined together in a collective 7:00 pm ritual in support to the first responders. To the nurses, doctors, paramedics, trash collectors, public transportation, police, fire fighters, supermarkets workers etc…with their services and sacrifices we, the residents of this megalopolis were able to keep out hopes for brighter days to come.
Video of four former presidents urging people to “roll up your sleeve and do your part” and get the vaccine.
A few weeks ago we saw a populist uprising invade one of this culture’s most sacrosanct public institutions out of anger and disillusionment, among other factors; generally a repudiation of what was perceived as a corrupt cabal who ignores the will of the people. Within days the news was full of stories of the State tracking down and cracking down on the dangerous insurgents and tracing their words and actions. Alliances were suddenly severed, fingers were wildly pointed, threats were issued, straw men swiftly collapsed. An historic quake, the tremulous ground is still shifting.
We’re don’t intend to oversimplify here, but you have to admit there appear to be parallels in these stories.
In the end, we see the ripples through street art. Actually, sometimes we see the antecedents to events like these as well – but we may not recognize them as such until later. One cryptic prophet and cultural critic from the street art world, Don Leicht, passed away this week after a very trying illness. His original use of the digitalized Invader predates the high profile street artist of the same name; his comic/cutting assessments of modern hypocrisy echoed across walls of New York as early as the inception of the video game itself. A long time trusted friend and creative collaborator with street artist John Fekner, Leicht was quickly memorialized with this new installation on the street (below).
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring 1UP Crew, Bastard Bot, Below Key, CRKSHNK, De Grupo, Don Leicht, Duke A. Barnstable, Ethan Minsker, Freedom, John Fekner, Maks Art World, Nick Walker, No Sleep, and Young Samo.
Reposted from John Fekner:
“Don Leicht (October 12th, 1946-January 22nd, 2021)Don was my fierce older Libra brother, colleague and collaborator throughout almost fifty years of friendship. Don was a passionate and devout painter who played by his own Bronx cool rules; whether as a teacher in the public school system in the South Bronx, or in his hand-written personal writings or hand-cut metal, plastic or cardboard sculptural works, all visually charged with a deep meaning and social purpose. His imagery could spark a laugh or a smile; but were intended to cause a reaction within a viewer’s heart, mind and soul.
Don was a steadfast bridge to carry me through my sometimes unwieldy behavior. He would provide answers with care, understanding and positivity; whether it was in person or through a 10-minute or hour phone call. Within our conversation (and with many of his friends), he would always repeat the message as to be sure that you ‘got the message’ and would act accordingly. Don always had a simple soothing solution: ‘Get one thing done by the end of the day.’
Don was preceded in death by his wife Annie; and he will be deeply missed by his two sons, Anthony and Nicky, who helped their father throughout his overwhelming health issues, especially in this past year.
Walk on dear friend. We celebrate your life work!”
Now that the orange man has been censored by social media he’ll have much more time to pack his boxes and do some deep vacuuming of the living room furniture.
All tolled, this week was perhaps the most effective public demonstration of white privilege on parade for everyone to see – and one that was beamed across the world, including into the countries who once looked to the US for leadership and promise. BLM could not have made a more powerful and impactful statement about the systemic inequality that is baked into American society. Did you see all those video split screens of how police treated the different crowds?
Trump is on his way out, but as the author Thomas Frank likes to say, Trumpism is here to stay.
Ahhhh, but the future is unwritten. Where’s you marker?
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Adrian Wilson, Bastard Bot, De Grupo, Ethan Minsker, Gane, Glare, HeartsNY, Lunge Box, Timothy Goodman, Wane, Winston Tseng, and You Are Loved. Yes, you are loved.
In our own Brooklyn neighborhood during a Thanksgiving stroll we witnessed people cueing up to get into a local overpriced restaurant while one block later we saw 4 people – two middle aged women and two teenagers – opening garbage bags on the sidewalk and looking for 5 cent returnable bottles.
Remind us please: Is this a Republican failure, or a Democratic failure? The wealth gap has continued to grow no matter who was in office for the last few decades. We are better than this.
Looks like Trump has finally accepted that he lost and is now turning his attention to who he will pardon. Regarding his hometown New York City, Trump will probably come back like a rash, fielding lawsuits and bragging about one thing or another. Other recent articles are turning attention to his various brood and surmising things like “Ivanka Probably Isn’t Welcome Back in New York City.”
Here is our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring A Toy Shop, Allei Kelley, CRKSHNK, De Grupo, Downtown DaVinci, Eye Sticker, I Heart Graffiti, Tenderloin Television, and The Postman Art.
Happy Diwali to all our Hindu neighbors here in Brooklyn and around the world. We hope you find some ways to celebrate safely over the next few days in this year of COVID-19. Diwali is a festival of lights that symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”. We need that for sure.
A week after the US election was called, the current president is trying to foment discord and raise funds for himself, but with war-loving folks like John Bolton and Carl Rove jumping ship, can it be much longer until a stampede of similar careerists and military industrialists follow suit?
And while certain yellow newsreaders on corporate TV were desperate for open warfare in the streets in the days around the election, most people are just waiting until the inevitable capitulation. This has hardly been a bloody revolution, but keep trying Rachel and whatsisname?
Street art is reflecting the current mood in broad strokes and pointed ones. New Yorkers can never keep their big yaps shut, so the level of discourse may sometimes be crude and brash – but it can also be insightful, enlightening, and even an invitation for thoughtful exchange. It’s times like these you can be proud of the voices on the streets, which very likely will persevere.
Here is our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Baston714, Cake$, City Kitty, Dan Bennett, De Grupo, Faile, I Heart Graffiti, Lunge Box, Pure Genius, Reisha Perlmutter, Rubin 415, and Sac Six.
Welcome to BSA Images of the Week. We’re midway through the month and every one is puzzled by this surge of new corona cases – although the New York mayor says the numbers are plateauing. The presidential race, if you can call it that, has many people worried about which bad direction we’re likely to go. But then the presidency itself has been a four year open sore. Regardless of who wins – you won’t be getting healthcare, or a jobs program, or an infrastructure program.
But crisis always pushes artists to dig deeper, and there are lively, funny, entertaining, strident, wacky people and signs wherever you walk.
Here is our weekly interview with the streets, this week including D7606, De Grupo, Eye Sticker, Flood, I Bella, Individual Activist, J131, Secret Photo Cabal, and Steel Fist Velvet Glove.
Welcome to BSA Images of the Week, where that silence you hear is the controlled collapse of the entire economy. Blink. Notwithstanding the drama that monopolizes the airwaves courtesy our daily-car-crash-in-chief, the breeze lilts and whirls gently downward like a loosened yellowed leaf set free from a tree.
But right now – New York street art is all about the raw nerves that are on display across the culture.
Here is our weekly interview with the streets, this week including Butterfly Mush, De Grupo, Eye Sticker, Hani, Hearts NY, Heck Sign, Kest, Detor, Daie, Ribs, Lexi Bella, My Life in Yello, Reisha Perimutter, Skewville, Sticker Maul, The Art of Willpower, Timmy Ache, and Tito Ferrara.
newsreaders are revving you up for the big election, right? Which millionaire
will you vote for to save us? Meanwhile,
millions are already suffering without jobs, without food, without sleep.
Meanwhile in beautiful New York we are seeing splendid new art on the streets, skooling us again as we go back to school. We’re particularly interested in a trend toward using recycled products in the making of art. Welcome to October; and Mercury is still in retrograde for about 4 weeks so hang on brothers and sisters. It’s gonna be bumpy.!
Here is our weekly interview with the streets, this week including Blaze, Catch a Fire, CRKSHNK, David Barthold, De Grupo, Downtown DaVinci, Eye Sticker, J131, Rae, and Stikman.
RAE constructed this site-specific piece on the street by molding plastic supermarket bags into the desired design and using staples to keep them in place. Each panel was individually created to fit the existing panels on the existing door. That’s why we are calling it site-specific. We know that placement is a key element of any successful street art piece.