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, 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.
Welcome to BSA Images of the Week. Shana Tova to our Jewish brothers and sisters, even as we mourn the Friday passing of one of Brooklyn’s own, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was born here on East 9th Street in Midwood to Russian immigrant parents in 1933 and the governor says we’ll have a statue honoring her here too.
Compared to all these news, the scene with Street Art appears tame. But from Red Hook to Soho to LES to Bushwick to Ridgewood, it is definitely not lame.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring BK Foxx, Chris Tuorto, City Kitty, CRKSHNK, De Grupo, Downtown DaVinci, Freakotrophic, Half, Joe Iurato, Kesta, Logan Hicks, Mish, Ouch, Praxis VGZ, Sac Six, Sean Lugo 9, Stikman, and You Go Girl!
The winds of change are gathering force and weaving together – social, political, financial, environmental… and it is all being reflected in street art today. Ironically, because media in the US is addicted to money and misdirection and is completely disinterested in the poor and working class as a whole, thoughtful analysis that pops off city walls seems unadulterated, capable of giving you more truthful assessments of what is missing, what is out of whack, and who’s gotta take action. Your face here.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Adam Fu, AJ LaVilla, Antennae, Black Ligma, City Kitty, CRKSHNK, De Groupo, Hearts NY, Novy, Pork, Surface of Beauty, The Greator, Winston Tseng, X Rebellion NYC, and Zuli Miau.
Please tell us again about that two-party system we hear about every day. Why does it look like one party? Have you heard about this new documentary coming called “The Swamp”?
Maybe its the time in quarantine but the quality of the workspersonship on the streets these days appears to have increased overall – perhaps because artists have much more time to pour into their paste-ups, stencils, paintings.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Amir Diop99, BK Foxx, Black Ligma, Captain Eyeliner, City Kitty, De Grupo, Downtown DaVinci, Epizod Tagg, Panam, Texas, Zuli Miau.
The fires of summer still burn, as do their romances. Yet September 1 brings news of the racing teams of muscular autumn artworld horses just beyond the next valley, thundering their way through the streets of New York to the galleries and museums. Among the cries, “Hail Henry!” “Hail JR!” “Hail Roger!”
And the streets! As inspiring and perplexing and exciting as ever, providing the ultimate exhibition.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring Dee Dee, Hugh Brisman, Hysterical Men, Jazz Guetta, City Kitty, Steve The Bum, De Grupo, Frank Ape, Gianni Lee, Never, Kendra Yee, Ruo Han Wang, Jazz Guetta, Nicholas Di Constanzo, Myth, Terry Urban, A Lucky Rabbit, Molly Crabapple, Ms Saffaa, and Vy.