Maybe its because animals are safe subjects to paint and make it
past the neighborhood censors, maybe its because they are handily metaphoric
when it comes to communicating a complicated or difficult idea. Maybe it is
just because they are cute and everybody on Instagram is going to offer a
clever rejoinder on your new painting in Miami, you cool dude/dudette.
From unicorns to hippos to lions and alligators, the street is
full of them right now around every corner in the Wynwood District and you can
still enjoy them until the neighborhood becomes so developed that they kill
them all. Well not all of them. One or two will still be creeping up on you in
the occasional abandoned lot that has a high tax bill or a hefty remediation of
toxic soil that still makes it too pricey for potential investors.
All of that wild conjuring aside, here is a selection of currently
running creatures of the gritty urban jungle in this humid and hot southern
city for you to marvel at.
You’ve probably already seen this wall by Elfo so its probably a boring topic. But we also enjoy his self-deprecation – after all he is marketing this wall to us to display digitally. Who knows if it’s even real. It’s better than just another portrait of 2Pac.
The Church of Santa Maria Novella, The Opera del Duomo Museum, the Uffizi
Gallery. Florence is forever tied to Renaissance art history and shares its
cultural riches with the world daily, including an endless stream of graphic
design and art history students who study in this Italian city every year. The
only drawback is, there is often a complaint by people creating art today that
there is only proper reverence and space given to those dead artists in this
city – not the ones whose hearts beat today.
Which may be why RUN and Basik had to run to a suburban area of the city to paint this new large scale mural. “Not much renaissance around,” RUN tells us. “Nothing like the center of the city with all the untouchable art from the past.” The Italian graffiti artist has matured into a fully realized modernist interpreter of form and sophisticated master of color on the street. Here he joins with Basik to depict a rumble between two wrestlers.
The style of these wrestlers may not be evocative of the style of “Hercules and Antaeus” by Antonio del Pollaiuolo at Ufizzi, but it definitely commands modern Florencians’ attention on the street today – a spectacular example of art on the street for everyone, not just a privileged few. In fact, RUN tells us that these wrestlers are more of an allegory for the people and the struggles people are having right now.
“We feel that people here are put in a constant challenge to combat conditions of poverty and ignorance.” Seeing this work here we are reminded of something BSA has been saying for some time; It is evident with the work of Street Artists globally over the last decade and a half that we have entered into a New Renaissance, but this time it is happening around the world. It is exciting to see this latest example present in the outskirts of Florence to help us put it into context.
Today we celebrate the life of and honor the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. on this very cold winters’ day in New York.
Among his many writings and speeches are the ones that ultimately identified the class system and the power dynamic that underlies systemic inequalities. While the country is now more than ever in the deadly embrace of an entrenched military industrial complex that looks to perpetuate its own income by starting wars, eating up the lions share of our annual budgets, we realize how some of MLKs harder truths about financial inequality were the one’s that made him most hated as well because they threatened a status quo. As bad as it looks to you, it looks absolutely perfect to some.
As we have watched a precipitous decline in the average American’s standard of living in the last 40 years, we can now see that the poor are poor not because of some moral failing but because the system is deliberate; designed to keep them there. With robots and other forms of automation preparing to sideswipe the workers of the world in the next five years, MLK’s ideas about a guaranteed annual income seem not only fair and wise, but also pragmatic and prophetic.
Banner photo credit Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. locks arms with his aides as he leads a march of several thousands on March 17, 1965 in Montgomery, Ala. (Credit: AP)
We’re up to our necks in deep frosty wind-whipping winter, and yet the Street Art right now is verbose, detailed, bright eyed, distinct, political, critical, stylish, dense, richly colorful.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week from Miami, and this time featuring Armyan, Captain Eyeline, Cash4, China, City Kitty, COMBO, CP Won, Food Baby Soul, Glare, Jaroe, Jaye Moon, Jazi, Marameo Universe, Plasma Slug, Rodak, Sara Lynne Leo, Smells, UK WC, and Winston Tseng.
Miguel Ángel Sánchez AKA SATURNO is an artist from a small town near Barcelona in Spain. A self-taught painter and illustrator, he’s become a recognized name in the European graffiti scene since he began in 1995, biting off a bigger piece of fame with each project.
Since 2012 he’s developed his own, unmistakable style that frightens and thrills in equal measure, and he has been painting his fantastical creations on walls big and small across Europe. With an illustration style that boasts ultra-real monsters and characters of exaggerated proportions and serious high gloss, he’s led and collaborated on many commercial projects and brands in the last few years with fire-breathing success.
The 2019 edition of Art Basel/Wynwood this past December allowed him to showcase his imagination and skills in quite remarkable ways on a couple of murals in Wynwood, Miami. One, in particular, is this astoundingly baroque beast dressed in the finest regal threads, dripping jewels, and saliva with bulging eyes and a voracious appetite for consumption.
Fans say Saturno examines the subconscious and darker aspects of people and behaviors with his work – which may lead one to conclude that this epic character is a thinly veiled metaphor for opportunist alligators whom you may meet here who are trolling flamboyantly through this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, regaling themselves with so many shiny baubles. Certainly this reptilian socialite is audacious and confidently showy, and Saturno has hit gold with a likeness that is both repulsive and compelling.
man of leisure these days, BSA contributor Lluis Olive-Bulbena took a three day
trip to Valencia, Spain to participate in the festivities of El dia del
El Cabanyal is a 333 acre (134 hectares) neighborhood in the old part of the city by the Mediterranean Sea, backed by a series of sandy beaches and a palm treed promenade. Its name is derived by the complex of barracks along the shore where the fishermen used to live when the town was purely a fishing village.
With the passage of time and change of the Spanish economy, El Cabanyal caught the eye of the leisure class who fill the streets with souvenir shops, cafes, and late-night clubs. The fishermen went someplace else. Not surprisingly perhaps, this tourist attraction is also a hot spot for Street Art – along with the greater city of Valencia for that matter.
We are told that many Street Artists have actually set-up studio here as well. Why not? The quality of life is nice, and the cost of living is much lower than in Barcelona and Madrid.
Amidst the fusillade of news from the Middle East these days, you may have missed that the young people of Baghdad in Iraq have been demonstrating in the streets against the government. They are fighting for pretty much the same thing that all people in every society eventually fight for – autonomy, fairness, freedom, liberty. Not surprisingly, Street Artists are helping give voice to the aspirations of the people, and possibly inspiration to them as well, with walls to the underpass into Tahrir Square serving as an open-air gallery of murals and slogans
Artist and animator Sajjad Abbas says his artworks on the streets are addressing the desires voiced by the protestors, and giving voice to the fallen. “The main goal of the protest is the motto ‘نريد وطن ‘, which means ‘We want a homeland’,” he says. “It’s a motto that has a deep and clear meaning and indicates how open-minded the protests are. The protesters are also asking to isolate all the parties and to never elect them again.”
Today we have images from recent protests as well as a few stencils by Abbas. You may recognize a style common in Street Art with political or social critique in cities elsewhere during the last decade and a half. The energy that is evident in these scenes is full of anticipation and emotion, the desire to express serious dissatisfaction that is evident in many sectors. In the disordered street and cafe scenes, you can also see a singularity of determination by some, a collectivity among others.
By creating a stencil portrait of one of the leaders who has been killed, a hero is being elevated – along with the values they are thought to have signified. Here you see an image of Safaa al-Sarai, one of the higher-profile activists/protesters whom news reports say was killed in October after getting hit in the head by a smoke grenade. In just a few short months his image on the street is transforming him to that of a martyr in popular culture and in memes – merging with imagery from sports culture as a protective goalie.
In fact, Safaa al-Sarai was a “goalie”, according to an account in the Times of London; “a human buffer armed with a wet sheet to intercept tear gas canisters aimed at protesters. ‘One hit the ground then bounced up into his head. He had a brain injury and was bleeding. They couldn’t save him,’ said his friend Hayder Alaa, a 21-year-old student.”
We asked Sajjad Abbas about his experience as a Street Artist in Baghdad during these tumultuous demonstrations and about his opinion of the role of art and artist in the street.
Brooklyn Street Art:Can you describe the protests in Tahrir Square and what issues people are focusing on?
Sajjad Abbas: The protests in Tahrir Square are hard to describe. The young guys went out on the 1st of October in 2019. In the beginning, they were mostly from Sadr City. The government faced the protests during the most intense action and they killed lots of the protesters. They used live ammunition and there were snipers and they took the young guys’ lives.
Through this time, after that, all people were called for protests, a million people marched on October 25, 2019. Together they were protesting about religious and secular topics of many kinds.
BSA: Are the protesters mainly young people? SA: They are young guys who are tired of every chain that the politics and the religion men put on the people. They asked for a good life and freedom and presented their opinions to all the religious men and government people. This protest is against dirty government forces and the parties of the murders. Many of the protesters were killed and the government used smoke bombs and flash grenades as a way to kill. They threw these things directly at the protester’s heads, and some were injured pretty seriously, probably causing them a lifetime disability…
So far the government hasn’t answered protesters’ demands, but there has been murder and kidnapping.
Most of the protesters are the new generation who were born in the early 2000s, but there are also different people from other age groups. What is good about the new protests is that there are also a big number of young females who were also in the protests – and they were in the front lines of the protest.
BSA: What is the name of the person in the stencil art with the beard? SA: The guy in this picture is Safaa Alsarai. He got killed in the protest after he got shot in the head by a smoking bomb.
BSA:Why is he important and what does he symbolize for Baghdadi people? SA: Safaa was a poet who also participated in many of the older protests. He was hoping that Iraq could become unified and be one and he was dreaming about making for Iraq an Iraqi country. Safaa became an icon for the revolution in all the cities in Iraq.
BSA: The figure with the mask looks like he is playing soccer. Is he catching a tear gas canister? SA: The guy is a goalkeeper (“goalie”) who is trying to catch the smoking bomb. In this tunnel, a team was created to shut down the smoking bombs that came at the protesters – after getting it away from the protests in the area above the tunnel.
BSA: Why is it important to use art in the streets for you? SA: It’s like drinking water… it’s an expression of existence. Using the art in the street is to clarify and express my ideas about the policies and social aspects of those policies. Street Art is a revolution – It’s an imperative way to share your ideas, and you should have a statement about the “system”.
Finding an inner sense of balance when living in the chaotic city is not easy, and you’ll have to be determined to achieve it after you’ve been pushed and pinched and insulted and assaulted – just on the way to work, or even the corner deli.
Traffic, construction, muffled train announcements, blaring radios, and boisterous conversations between Bernice and Brandon and Betty and Bernardo batter you from the time you leave your apartment until you arrive bedraggled and exhausted.
For Polish muralist Magda Cwik, the pursuit of balance
begins on a high note – and travels through your musical chakras. Here in the
in Juárez neighborhood of Mexico City she has been painting a series of eight
murals which she intends to assist urban dwellers to live in balance –
including via their ears.
“I combined specific colors, images, music and
intentions to rise up vibrations of people on the street,” she tells us of a
campaign she calls “Vibraising”. “The wall focuses on reactivation and
connection with Mother Earth and grounding,” she says, and she includes a QR
attached to the wall for you to scan and listen to music that corresponds to her
desire to help you rebalance.
often do we walk with our bare feet to connect with Earth? Do we live in
harmony with Her?” she asks. “Earth provides us with everything we need to
sustain us if we live in balance. By connecting with Nature we can heal
ourselves, and listen to the teachings of our ancestors.”
For one example of the music, you will here, below is a colorful world vibrating in the key of C (for the Root Chakra) by artist Stephen Mahoney (@dj_stephenmanhoney)
It’s hard to even comment on this bellicose war-loving president and his military industry profiteers all ginning up a war against Iran – except to say, “Fool me once…”. Wait, how does that go again?
This week we take you back to the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami, where Primary Flight started a huge graffiti throwdown in the 2000s, later picked up by Tony Goldman to create Wynwood Walls. The current fare throughout the neighborhood is record-setting: from the sheer number of murals and art installations, to the parade of families and friends coming here to take tours and selfies. Catching a shot of a piece without people in the frame is like trying to run in between raindrops.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week from Miami, and this time featuring 1UP Crew, BK Foxx, BustArt, Cranio, Cush Kan, Dam Crew, Dia5, Komik, Quake, Ripes, Sipros, Starve, Thomas Danbo, and Urban Ruben.
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening : 1. SpY / Full Story / Takin Over Public Spaces In The City 2. Matth Velvet. Parees Festival 2019 3. Bomb Shelter/Pete Kirill/Wynwood, Miami
BSA Special Feature: SpY Takes Over Public Spaces
The brilliant Spanish interventionist is profiled here by a brand – but its not obtrusively involved in the video. His approach to the city is educational, humorous, full of adoration and witty simplicity. A graffiti writer who challenged himself to interact with the public spaces in new ways, he credits those early years bombing with his heightened understanding of the urban environment, and how to skillfully disrupt it.
SpY / Full Story / Takin Over Public Spaces In The City
Matth Velvet at Parees Festival 2019
A new video from PareesFest 2019
featuring a painter on the wall, and demonstrating the entirely different
approach a mural is when realized with brushes. A tribute to historical
Olloniego mining, the artist is Matth Velvet and the video is by Titi Muñoz.
Bomb Shelter/Pete Kirill/Wynwood, Miami
Taking the trip local, Pete Kirill tells you about his project in Wynwood, Miami – a graffiti and art supply store, gallery, and community hub that is rooted in graffiti and of course spreads out far from there. A unique opportunity to see this transformed neighborhood through the eyes of Miami folks – a mini tour of one spot just after the deluge of art fans and tourists during Art Basel, which happens in Miami every year at the beginning of December.
This story starts in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and ends in Madrid, Spain but its focus is global in nature.
With the earth at the center of the eye, Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada tells us that the first of two murals he painted for the recent COP 25 conferences is called “Forest Focus.” As the world has been watching the largest forests of Australia burning this month, he clearly knows what we’re all facing.
“With an image of the world as the iris,” he says, “This mural has an artistic focal point that symbolizes the values set forth at the COP25 conference being held in Madrid.”
The Cuban-born Street Artist, now based in Barcelona, was partnering with a public art program/platform called GreenPoint EARTH during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference, or COP 25 to create two new street art pieces.
Well known for his “Terrestrial Series” of artworks spread over masses of land that are visible by planes flying overhead, Rodriguez-Gerada blends social and ecological themes seamlessly with sometimes profound results.
His second mural of the series is a portrait of Hilda Pérez, a person indigenous to Peru and theVice President of the National Organization of Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Women of Peru (ONAMIAP). The team says she was chosen to represent indigenous people because their voices are frequently marginalized in discussions about ecology and climate change, despite occupying 25-50 percent of the Earth’s land.
“We need to think of every tool in our toolkit because time is ultimately running out,” said Greenpoint Innovations founder Stephen Donofrio at a panel discussion with the artist at the Action Hub Event during the COP25.
He was speaking about the pivotal role that Street Art has been able to fill in education, as well as his own interest in partnering with artists and other collaborators to raise awareness for a myriad of environmental issues. “That’s why it’s really important that Chile/Madrid COP25 has this really strong message that it’s time for action.”
more plans to involve Street Artists around the world “to inspire climate action with
positive messages about the interconnected themes of nature, people, and
climate,” Donofrio says he believes that the
power of communication that Street Artists wield can be focused to make real,
“The connectivity is really important
in these projects to establish that we are dealing with globally challenging issues
that boil down to a really local consequence.”