Nowruz Mubarak! Happy Persian New Year to all the New York neighbors who celebrate it. Also, Happy Spring! Did you think it would never arrive? Already the birds are chirping in the trees, and the crocus is popping up from beneath the garbage and dog crap. That guy who lives downstairs named Manny and his brother are washing their car on the curb while blasting a mix from Marley Marl & Red Alert at top volume for the block to enjoy. All the while, there is a colorful parade of young bucks and shorties who are strutting around the neighborhood with big eyes and a burning flame of hope in their hearts.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring: Almost Over Keep Smiling, City Kitty, D7606, Damien Mitchell, Ethan Minsker, Invader, LET, Matt Siren, Mort Art, NET, Rambo, Raw Raffle, Royce Bannon, SacSix, Sara Lynne Leo, Sticker Maul, Tram, Voxx Romana, and Winston Tseng.
Remember that time when your best friend’s boyfriend was installing a towel rack in the bathroom of their apartment, and he clumsily busted a hole through the wall, revealing a hidden room – which subsequently released a ghost who regularly appeared at the foot of their bed and slammed doors throughout their dwelling? We do. That’s why it was/was not shocking when a New York woman investigated the breeze emanating from her bathroom mirror. She took the mirror off the wall and discovered a portal to a three-room apartment.
Dude, if that happens to us, we’re not putting it on Tik Tok. We’re heading to Bed Bath and Beyond. In a space-starved city, newly discovered square footage is like finding gold bullion or bitcoin between couch cushions.
In other New York news, some street art neighborhoods are devoid of new works these days – perhaps because January and February are a frozen, mischievous purgatory that chases you inside in a normal year – doubly so when you’re on your 37th consecutive month of pajamas, Minecraft, and Chef Boyardee Beefaroni. Have faith; the next tumultuous 8 weeks of winter-spring-winter-spring weather will eventually coax the street artists and graffiti writers outside in a perennial sign of spring like the appearance of a robin on your windowsill.
Despite the paucity of prancing vandals at the moment, our Editor of Photography, Jaime Rojo, still managed to capture new art in the streets this week in Red Hook, Bushwick, Chelsea, and Bushwick – amongst the scores of closed restaurant huts that have besieged sidewalks citywide. Movie theaters will open for 25% capacity now, and perhaps the moribund restaurants will be coming back to life in this city that never quite sleeps.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Adrian Wilson, Berkit, Binho, Blur, Captain Eyeliner, Colin Capernick, Comik, DYM Crew, Ethan Minsker, Know Your Rights Camp, Locs, Matt Siren, Paolo Tolentino, Sara Lynne Leo, Shark, Taboo, The Monks, and Tony De Pew.
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.