From throw-ups to tags, banal to topical, paste-ups to high-gloss murals, the New York pays you back in grit and passion when you keep your eyes open. This summer the heat is on – and you really only need shorts, a tee-shirt, and comfy footwear to get lost in this city that is speaking to you at all hours and pouring poetic discourse into your head and heart. As hard as it may be sometimes, we are always thankful to be in a city full of people and artists that inspire daily.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring: Invader, Elle, Goog, Urban Russian Doll NYC, Homesick, King Baby, Miss 17, Cramcept, You Are Not Alone, Rambo, Dense, Beep Beep, Red Eye Mob, Crypto Compadres, and Dominator.
Today our public/private debates about whether someone’s aerosol creation is vandalism or art are far more complex, more palpable than before. Thanks to the validation of graffiti and street art as a cultural force by fashion designers, toy manufacturers, home goods stores, clothing chains, commercial brands, film directors, art collectors, auction houses, artists, writers, professors, and respected education and art institutions, these practices of art-making on the street are enmeshed in the culture, fully a part of it.
One of these days a train car covered with graffiti will head to the yards for buffing… and reappear at an art fair, a Sotheby’s auction, or in the back yard of an avid collector. Our thoughts turn to the “Fun Gallery” refrigerator covered with graffiti tags in that is currently on display at the Phillips “Graffiti” show on Park Avenue right now.
And so we turn to our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring: Billye Merrill, BK Foxx, Crash, DrewOne, Elle, Eraquario, Eskae, Jenkins2D, Lamour Supreme, MAD, Manuel Alejandro, Osiris Rain, Praxis, REDS, Sipros, The Creator, The DRIF, and Twice.
Get in, get out, no one gets hurt. Our few days in Miami were full of adventure on the street and at parties and receptions for artists. The party rages on tonight and this weekend at the fairs and in the galleries and bars and streets of course, but our last events were interviewing Faile onstage at Wynwood Walls last night, going to the Museum of Graffiti 2nd Anniversary party/opening for FUZI, and, well there was this thing with Shepard Fairey and Major Lazer and a guy proposing marriage to his girl before the crowd…
But really, where else but Wynwood do you see Blade and his lovely wife Portia on the street, or sit with Ron English and his son Mars on folding chairs directly on the street in front of his new pop-up, or have a hug with ever-sunny Elle in front of her lift, or hide in the shade with seven 1UP dudes across the street from their massive new space piece, or talk with Ket in the back yard with “Style Wars” playing on a large screen behind him and the DJ while a florescent colored Okuda marches by, or chase Lamour Supreme while he tries a one-wheel skateboard around a parking lot, nearly crashing into Crash who is in his cherry picker with Abstrk painting a wall? The dinner at Goldman Properties Monday night? Dude.
We’re not really name-droppers, you know that, but honestly it was like a family reunion dinner with perfectly punctilious attention to detail over at Wynwood Walls this week – after two years of Covid fears killing everyone’s buzz. We saw Daze, Shoe, PichiAvo, Bordalo II, Jonone, Shepard Fairey, 1Up, Add Fuel, Case MacClaim, Nychos, Faile, Martha Cooper, Nika Kramer, Mantra, Ken Hiratsuka just to name a few – cavorting with collectors, cultural workers, fanboys, journalists, bloggers, academics, critics, bankers, gallerists, curators, museum people, real estate folks, photographers, dancers, silk climbing aerialists and hustlers of many flavors – and all the class of ’21 artists whom Jessica Goldman invited to paint this year. A Miami mélange, we’ll call it.
We were even having dinner with Martha when a local stencilist named Gregg Rivero sat in an empty chair at the table with us to offer an array of small stencil works featuring graphically pornographic scenes – to choose from as a memento of Miami indubitably. Naturally, we carefully perused his entire collection of 20 or so spread-eagles, doggie-styles, Shanghai-swans, Mississippi-missionaries, Dutch-doors, bobbing-for-sausages, and lord-knows-what-else. After careful consideration and we each selected a favorite stencil and he autographed it. Just not sure what room to hang it in…
Our treasured part of the Miami art vortex ’21 was meeting some BSA fans and Faile fans mixed together at the artist talk hosted by Peter Tunney at GGA Gallery last night. An action-packed hour of pictures covering their 35 year friendship was on offer for the assembled – focused mainly of course on their 22 year professional career. What an amazing career of image-making it is too – and even though we were prepared, there are always surprises with such dynamic dudes who have parlayed an illegal street art career into a well-respected and pretty high profile career with intense collectors and fans of their simplest silk screens and works on paper to their wood puzzle boxes, wood paintings, toys, ripped paintings, and their very new, completely radical approach that breaks their own mold for this “Endless” exhibition. And need we say it, Faile have already released a number of NFTs of course – which some in the audience didn’t know that Faile had – but could have guessed since Faile pioneered interactive digital games that accompanied their analog works as early as 2010 when most people still didn’t even have a smart phone.
But we digress. Back in New York now and it’s grey and cold and unwelcoming, and of course we love it. Thanks Miami! See you soon.
The image below was taken in Wynwood, Miami. At the panel, with Faile, they talked about the process of making their art and one of the subjects was about ripping up posters from the street…. – and how their original name was Alife. Two blocks away we found these ripped posters advertising Alife.
FAILE: ENDLESS is currently on view at Goldman Global Arts Gallery at Wynwood Walls. Wynwood, Miami.
The street art can double as advertisements, the advertisements can double as street art, and all of it has been supplanted by fevered talk about NFTs, as if the speaker whom you’ve been accosted by invented them. For a scene that likes to consider itself to be on the bleeding edge, this is all a bit disappointingly 2017 to hear, but there you have it.
Yet we are still pleased to see that the neighborhood is popping with more fresh new creativity than last year and you again feel like new things are to be discovered around almost every corner. Oh sure, there are many cultural looters here, but that’s always been the case. It’s good to see that some new transgressive pieces, eye-opening missives, and dripping wet tags are scattered here among the permission-based walls and ghosts from December past. No one knows what the socio-economic future holds, but for now, Wynwood’s holding steady.
Here are a few shots from Jaime Rojo as he made a few laps among the streets.
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.
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
Welcome to the first BSA Images of the Week of 2021 !
We start our collection this week with an image of Christ crucified on a Facebook logo. If this is the level of subtlety that we can expect from the new year…gurl, we in trubble.
In fact, we have found that much of the organic street art that we find today has become increasingly strident in opinions expressed, especially around themes of social justice and political skullduggery. It’s all mixed in with favorites like pop figures, sports figures, cats. In a way, the artists are ahead of us, so we consider these images as the tea leaves for what is coming.
How will you interpret these messages from the street? Will you become emboldened? Scared? Or will they not have any impact on passersby?
Here is our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring 7 Line Arts Studio, Bastard Bot, Calicho Art, Captain Eyeliner, Calisi Maultra, City Kity, CRKSHNK, David F Barthold, Degrupo, Elle, Jeff Roseking, Joseph Grazi, NohJColey, Poi Everywhere, Sickid, Sticker Maul, and Stikman.
If you are not seeing opinions and theories being expressed on social media or raging cable, you can always go to the streets today, as the voice of the people is marching out to grab a soap box and yell their opinion. Faced with a daily firehose of government neglect and corporate disinformation, you and your neighbors are either being tricked into hating each other of divining the truth.
You may not agree with the sentiment of the street artists who are going out right now to paint or wheatpaste their art and perspectives, but somehow you have more empathy and trust for them than the millionaires behind microphones on screens wherever you look.
Shout out this week to a new kid on the block, an artist named Stickermaul who puts out a smart array of messages using collage, hand written text, pasted text, photos, and USPS stickers to convey a number of quick socio/political messages in Manhattan. The new voices right now are informing us of the evolutions/revolutions that are taking place.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Bella Phame, Coby Kennedy, Elle, Live Thoughfully, Lust Sick Puppy, Mad Artist, and Rono.
An hour north of New York City in the wealthiest
county of the state, a new mural program extends the reach of organizers Audrey
and Thibault Decker of Street Art for Mankind. They say that they have
produced murals and exhibitions in Larchmont, Mamaroneck, and Midtown with the support
of more than 50 international Street Artists in the last few years – all with
the goal of raising awareness and funds to stop child trafficking worldwide.
The New Rochelle murals that went up this fall and were
debuted in November through and organized art walk and other events appear to
be more loosely correlated with local pride and history, such as the one by
artist Loic Ercolessi featuring local-born musician Don Mclean (“American Pie) and
Manhattan-born musician Alicia Keyes (“Empire State of Mind”).
An inspiring walk through the city’s downtown neighborhood on a grey and brisk fall day to discover these new murals was warmed by sharing the experience with photographer Martha Cooper, who took the train up from the city with BSA co-founder Jaime Rojo to catch the new works. The program here is called “NRNY Artsy Murals” and a highlight from this day was taking a cherry lift with Ukrainian Street Artist AEC to get a closer look at him while he worked on his new mural of allegorical surrealism.
quality is obviously high and the program eclectic, including artists such as DanK
(GBR), Elle (USA & AUS), JDL (NLD), Loic Ercolessi (USA & FRA), Lula
Goce (SPA), Mr Cenz (GBR) and Victor Ash (DEN, FRAand POR). Ash left the city
with a new floating astronaut high above the Earth, which may describe some of
the uplifting feelings passersby may experience here in New Rochelle.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. Gonzalo Borondo “Merci” Temple des Chartrons 2. ELLE in Allentown 3. Pejac: YIN-YANG 4. “Beyond The Streets” In A New York Minute – By Chop ‘Em Down Films 5. LL Cool J – I’m Bad
BSA Special Feature: Gonzalo Borondo “Merci” Temple des Chartrons, France. 2019
Finally opened, its the spirit of man and nature working in concert in this vast emporium, a transformatorium, of images and pieces of memory from Street Artist Borondo. If you are in Paris before August 18, it is a must see.
ELLE in Allentown
Former tagger and now fulltime muralist, Elle talks about a new work in Allentown, PA, which is trying to kindle a creative arts / high tech reputation after the iron industry left. “The gist of the entire collage is that all of women are more powerful together,” says Elle.
Spanish Street Artist and studio artist Pejac is back with one of his visual aphorism that addresses climate change ironically.
“Beyond The Streets” In A New York Minute – By Chop ‘Em Down Films
Like we said earlier this week when this video debuted:
“It’s a unique talent to capture the fervor of an opening like “Beyond the Streets” in one minute. The show spreads over two floors and fifty years – the reunions alone were enough for an hour movie. But somehow Zane catches an individual, personal, flavor in a New York minute.”
LL Cool J – I’m Bad
Also, the because it’s Friday and because LL is Bad
This is the third year for Northern Norway’s UPN Festival and this year it’s on an Island called Røst and includes a collection of artists eager to do site-specific and environmental works – one evolutionary development in the mural festivals that blossom throughout the world right now. This week BSA is proud to bring you images and interviews along with Urban Nation this year at UpNorth, where the seagulls never stop calling and the sun never goes down this time of year.
We wind up the week on the island of Røst with almost a mystical sense, perhaps because of the inspirational messages we continued to see within the statements of this year’s artists. Today we see the metaphorical storytelling of Elle at war on the seas and the striking installation by Klone Yourself (or Klone) called “The Songs of the Vikings” ______________
A surrealist illustrator experimenting with different styles and mediums on Street Art pieces and murals in cities, Klone’s works on walls often feature simplified and distorted forms, figures, and creatures occupying a space that is seemingly suspended in air. An uprooted Ukrainian immigrant now from Tel Aviv, the mid-30s artist is looking at existential matters today in the way you do when you have had to adjust to a radically new environment.
One examines fundamentals and pillars of a culture, its history, norms and language – and then struggles to find a place within it. For his installation in Norway, the artist studied the location and the history of the region, combined that study with his own history, and constructed “Viking” swords for a site specific piece that takes on many shadings of significance.
“The texts on the swords are coming from various sources: Viking poetry and songs, contemporary references like music and literature we grow up on, and personal remarks and thoughts on life and daily struggles,” says Klone about his striking installation by the sea. “In a way this is a series of protective runes, planted in the ground, like after a big battle, some of the text disappearing, some still exposed. Some of the truth is always gone, and it’s all relative.
BSA:Can you talk about this striking and meaningful installation you did by the sea for UpNorth? Klone: My main goal for the UpNorth festival was to complete my installation that was planned specifically for it. The installation consists of wooden swords, cut out by me from found wood (mostly wood that was used for building houses on the island), with text written on the swords.
Later those swords got stuck into a hill structure on the island. This installation has and can have so many meanings, to both me and the random viewer, so I’ll explain some of my intention – and anyone else can take it somewhere else, as people already did while I was installing my piece and directly after it was completed.
The sword is a symbol of power through thousands of years. A wooden sword is a toy, meant to play with. In a way it is to prepare us for one day holding a real sword, real power, or at least real representation of it, no matter how prepared or not we are.
On a personal note – my name is Igor, and this is the name my mother gave me when I was born and later explained to me that she gave me a Viking name so I could grow to be a strong man. In a way I hope I did become kind of a Viking. A free man, at least as much as I’d like to think so, somewhat a pirate, and always on the move with deep respect for history and traditions as well as a love for innovation. For me this was a kind of a closure, to bring this installation to a place that felt like it’s meant to be.
BSA:How would you describe the environment working in Røst? Klone Yourself: The Røst environment is insane. It feels like another planet over there and with the 24/7 daylight, its easy to feel so.
I think it’s amazing to experience a place so old and yet so wholesome and not destroyed by modern civilizations. Yes they have machines, Internet and restaurants, but it seems like the people just want to live their lives and are not really bothered by what’s happening around them.
BSA:How are you challenging yourself as an artist right now? Klone Yourself: I’m challenging myself as an artist on a daily basis. My practice is always on a few levels of perception, depending on the time and the place of course. As I work in drawing, painting, installation, video and mural painting, the limits are far to be seen, and there’s so much to try and learn yet.
The most appropriate personal title for the piece is – “Song of the Viking” , as a tribute to songs written by Vikings to their gods, and as a tribute to this land now and then.
The American experimentalist Elle tries anything once – including fire extinguishers, rollers, aerosol, wheatpastes, silkscreens and bus stop takeovers – legal and illegal. Her illustrative style often centers around a fantastical avatar, a heroic and sensual woman who is exploring new psychological landscapes.
Here in Røst the heroine of a shipwreck casts a wide eye at you as she climbs through a tumultuous and harrowing sea storm. The metaphors are many and so is the range of Elles ever-increasing skills.