All posts tagged: Elias

The Power of Color via Street Art, Graffiti, and Murals

The Power of Color via Street Art, Graffiti, and Murals

No doubt it is the grey days of late winter that is making us think about this as we brace for the next snowstorm, but today we’re considering the impact that Street Art color has on architecture that never asked for it.

We’re not the first to think of hues, shades, tones, and palettes when it comes to the man made environment of course, but it does strike us that most of the buildings that are hit up by street art and murals today were designed by architects who never imagined art on their facade.


Os Gemeos in Boston. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Modern architecture for some reason is still primarily grey, washed out greens, beige, eggshell, snore.

“Color is something that architects are usually afraid of,” said internationally known and awarded architect Benedetta Tagliabue in an interview last May about the topic of color.  A generalization probably, and you can always find exceptions of colorfully painted neighborhoods globally like the Haight in San Francisco, La Boca in Buenos Aires, Portafino in Italy, Guanajuato in Mexico, Bo-Kaap in Capetown, the favelas of Rio de Janeiro and the Blue City of India, but many of those examples speak to color blocking and pattern.


Interesni Kazki in Baltimore. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We’ve been looking at the power of Street Art to reface, re-contextualize, re-energize, and re-imagine a building and its place in the neighborhood. Some times it is successful, other times it may produce a light vertigo. The impact of work on buildings by today’s Street Artists and muralists depends not only on content and composition but largely on the palette they have chosen. It sounds trite, and self-evident perhaps, but much of Street Art is about color, and primarily on the warm scale first described by Faber Birren with his OSHA colors and color circle in the 1930s .


Faile in Manhattan, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Birren developed his color system with the observation that artists favor the warm colors more than the cold, from the violet side of red and extending beyond yellow because “, their effect is more dynamic and intense and because the eye can, in fact, distinguish more warm colors than cold.

It’s common now to think of 21st century Street Art as the graffiti-influenced practice that primarily activates the detritus of the abandoned industrial sector blighting western cities in the wake of trade agreements that sent all the jobs to lands without protections and regulations. While that is definitely the sort of neglected factory architecture preferred for “activation” by many graffiti artists and Street Artists alike, we also see more curious couplings of color with the delicately ornate, the regal, or even modernist structures today thanks to artists being invited, rather than chased.


Shepard Fairey in Manhattan, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The results? Abstractionist, cubist, geometric, letter-based, illustrative, figurative, text-based, outsider, folk, dadaist, pop.  One common denominator: color.

“The environment and its colors are perceived, and the brain processes and judges what it perceives on an objective and subjective basis. Psychological influence, communication, information, and effects on the psyche are aspects of our perceptual judgment processes,” writes Frank H. Mahnke in his recent piece for Archinect. The author of Color, Environment, & Human Response has made it his mission to explore psychological, biological effects of color and light and to help creators of the man-made environment make good choices.

Whether all of these choices are good, we leave up to you. But it is worth considering that Street Artists have been part of the conversation on the street for decades now, making powerful suggestions to architects and city planners , so maybe it’s worth taking another look at what they’ve been up to lately.


Ever in Baltimore. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Escif in Atlanta. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Kenton Parker and Roa in Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


LUDO in Chicago. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Anthony Lister in Los Angeles. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Kobra in Manhattan, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Smells, Cash4 and Spiro in Brooklyn, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Don Rimx in El Barrio. Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Agostino Iacurci in Atlanta. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Barry McGee in Brooklyn, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Jaz and Cern in Brooklyn, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Pose and Revok in Manhattan, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Rime, Dceve and Toper in Manhattan, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Pixel Pancho in Miami. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Deeker and David Pappaceno in Brooklyn, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Reka in Brooklyn, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


RRobots in Brooklyn, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


MOMO in Brooklyn, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Skewville in Brooklyn, NYC with an old NEKST tag on top. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


3ttman and Elias in Atlanta. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Chris Stain and Billy Mode tribute to Martha Cooper in Brooklyn with ROA on the water tank. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Rubin in Brooklyn, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Os Gemeos in Manhattan, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


JMR in Brooklyn, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Greg LaMarche in Brooklyn, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)



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!

This article was also published on The Huffington Post




Read more

“Los Muros Hablan NYC”, a Voice from the Street in Harlem and El Barrio

Oh! If only these walls could speak! The diverse stories of New York’s 20th/21st century immigrants would yell above the racing traffic north of 96th Street.

Inspired in part by a similarly named festival held last year in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Los Muros Hablan NYC just took place in Harlem and the South Bronx, bringing Street Artists and muralists together from Latin America, Puerto Rico, and New York.  In a coordinated effort with the museum El Museo del Barrio, a cultural space called La Repuesta, and the office of local Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, the festival gathered a scattered collection of walls under one name.

Combining an animated neighborhood block party, live music, and panel discussion, Los Murals Hablan (translated as “The Murals Speak”) brought back a part of New York street life that sometimes feels like it is disappearing in the grand blanding of Manhattan. We look at it as a reinvigoration; a continuation of the tradition of community murals and graffiti influences from El Barrio while updating it to include the stunning new directions of a global Street Art scene.

Invited artists included were Axel Void, Celso Gonzales, Roberto Biaggi, Elian & Pastel, Jufe, Betsy Casañas, Manny Vega, LNY, Don Rim X, and Viajero. Here are images of some of the artists and their work by photographer Jaime Rojo.


Axel Void. The Spanish artist collaborates with photographer Martha Cooper using an image from her Street Play book which focused on the building of a clubhouse from found materials by neighborhood kids. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

For an artist born in Miami of a Haitian mom and raised in Spain, the concept of home in this city of immigrants is especially poignant. On his Facebook description of his wall Axel says, “The concept fits the event that Los Muros Hablan proposed, ‘Diaspora’. In a neighborhood like East Harlem, there is a great mix of nationalities that all meet at this place they now call home. It was really something to see the different reactions and hospitality of the people who would pass by or lived across from the wall. This wall is dedicated to them.”


Axel Void. The Spanish/American artist used a photocopy from the Martha Cooper book that focused on the games kids played in the Alphabet City section of New York in the 1970s. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Axel Void’s finished tribute to El Barrio and Martha Cooper. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Axel Void.  (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Betsy Casañas and team at work. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


A detail from the mural by Betsy Casañas. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


A detail from the mural by Betsy Casañas. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


The only abstract modernist in the group, Street Artist Elian is from Córdoba, Argentina and arrived in New York with his friend and fellow painter Pastel – both fresh from Living Walls Atlanta. A self-taught artist, Elian is also co-director back in his home city, which he deeply loves. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Don Rim X (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Don Rim X (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Celso Gonzalez. Roberto Biaggi (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Celso Gonzalez. Roberto Biaggi (photo © Jaime Rojo)


A thinking persons Street Artist LNY examines identity as seen through the prism of experience. From Ecuador and New Jersey, his own work talks about unusual hybrids and boundaries in culture and nationality. His monstrous piece is called “The end of race / Libertad y Xul antes del desayunó” (photo © Jaime Rojo)


LNY (photo © Jaime Rojo)


An architect and painter from Buenos Aires, Pastel created this subtle amalgam of a wooded area beneath a floating geometric screening, as if to enlarge the basic building structures that lie deep in nature. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Viajero at work at Los Muros Hablan NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

New Yorker Viajero has his studio in Brooklyn and his heart in Puerto Rico. The artist draws on tradition and reveres those who came before him as well as the power that lies in the community today. With an interest in sculpture and installation as well as drawing Viajero’s mural flies off the wall so that it can also hang from the limbs of a tree in front of it. If only his mural could speak!


Viajero (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Viajero (photo © Jaime Rojo)



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!


This piece is also published in the Huffington Post

HUFFPOST-Los Muros Hablan Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 10.16.15 AM


Read more