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.
Many people in New York and around the world breathed a collective sigh of relief this week when our native son from Queens got on that helicopter with his immigrant wife and A. left the White House and, B. flew to Florida.
But for this week anyway, the streets are saying let’s give Biden and Harris and this new administration the congratulations and the honeymoon they deserve. We wish them (and us) the best!
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Anna is a toy, Bastard Bot, CRKSHNK, Elfo, Jason Naylor, Lunge Box, Praxis VGZ, and Queen Andrea.
The streets are alive with street art and pointed political protest. NYC citizens are joining the cities and communities across the country who are demonstrating furiously over the newest examples of systemic, latent, and explicit racism and police brutality that have characterized our society for so long. Of course it’s just one fire that has been waiting to spark as economic conditions run parallel with social inequity. In the face of sky-high unemployment, unpaid rents, increasing food insecurity, a “rescue” program that gave the store to the rich, and the ever-growing gap between hyper-rich and the chronically poor/ newly poor, the summer here looks like it could be torrid.
We won’t need or see a large number of street art festivals for a while. This show of politically/socially inspired artworks and text messages is probably just warming up on the streets and you can imagine that artists won’t find it appealing to be sitting on panels and pontificating about the genesis of mark-making, the original roots of punk anarchy, or how they are incorporating being woke or inter-sectionalism into their “street practice”. The creative class, however you define it, has suffered a huge blow and many are out of work, and patience. Based on what we have been witnessing here these past few weeks, you may predict that the more aesthetically inclined will seize the opportunity to make art for the city, on the city.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring 1UP Crew, Adam Fujita, Almost Over Keep Smiling, Billy Barnacles, Combo-CK, Denis Ouch, Indecline, Jason Naylor, Lunge Box, Matt Siren, Mr. Toll, and Woof Original.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street featuring Add Fuel, Almost Over Keep Smiling, BR163, Crash, Degrupo, Disordered, Early Riser, finDAC, Fours, Jason Naylor, Leleus, JL, Maya Hayuk, Obey, Sara Lynne Leo, Surface of Beauty, Telmo & Miel.
Did you see that micro-moon on Friday the 13th? We were up on the roof with artists and friends and weirdos celebrating “mid autumn moon” and looking at the New York skyline and that beautiful moon, which didn’t seem 14% smaller, did it? Seemed like your run-of-the-mill gorgeous Harvest Moon, right? Also, a dope opportunity to say “apogee“, which you just don’t get to say very much. No those are not those tassels that exotic dancers put on their nipples.
So here’s our harvest of Street Art and graffiti for you! The city has been producing amazing crops all year, to tell the truth.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring Almost Over Keep Smiling, Crappytalism, Jason Naylor, Jocelyn Tsajh, Li-Hill, Peoples Power Assembly, Plannedalism, Pure Genius, Rider, Subway Doodle, Surface of Beauty, The Joker, Thomas Allen, and Will Kurtz.
Surreally yours! The art on the streets this week appears to reflect the times. It’s going to take all this creativity and force to turn the tides!
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring 1Up, AJ LaVilla, Android Oi, Cern, Dark Clouds, Dirty Cobain, Early Riser, Invader, Jason Naylor, Little Ricky, Lubaina Himid, Lucas Blalock, Oscar Lett, Robson, SacSix, Subway Doodle, Zimer .
We’re in the thick sticky summer of it now -with Street Artists flooding the walls with many new unpermissioned illegal works. From small scale and new kids on the block to large legal/commercial murals by more established names- the public space in New York is teeming again with new ideas.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street (or boardwalk), this time featuring Adreian Wilson, Bert MTA, Bia Ferrer, Blaze, Captain Eyeliner, El Sol 25, Faust, Gatos a Gatas, H Lucatelli, Homoriot, Jason Naylor, Jilly Ballistic, Libranos, Movimiento Petrushaus, My 2 Cents, Nomad Clan, Novy, Pork, Shin Shin, Subdude, and Tatyana Fazlilazadeh.
In honor of the 50th
Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn uprising in the West Village in Manhattan, we
are giving the spotlight this Sunday to the many artworks that have been
created by dozens of artists from all over the world in the city over the past
weeks. Some of them are commissioned works and others are illegally placed on
the streets, regardless of who made them or under whose sponsorship they were
created or if they were placed illegally the important thing is to realize that
the struggle for recognition, acceptance, and justice didn’t just happen
because somebody was willing to give that to us.
It happened because a lot of people before us dared to challenged the establishment and fought to change the cultural norms, the laws in the books and ultimately the perception from the society at large. People suffered unspeakable evil and pain at the hands of unmoved gatekeepers and power brokers. People died rather than living a lie. People took to the streets to point fingers at those who stood silent when many others were dying and were deemed untouchable.
People marched to vociferate and yelled the truth and were arrested and marked undesirable. Many brothers and sisters who were much more courageous than we’ll ever be, defied a system that was designed to fail them and condemn them. Restless souls confronted our political, business, media and religious leaders right in their front yards with the truth and never backed down.
So we must pay homage to
them. We have what we have because of them. We owe it to them and we need to
understand that it was because of their vision, intelligence and fearless
actions that the majority began to understand that without them and their help
we would never get equal treatment. Equal rights. Equal opportunities.
So yes let’s celebrate,
dance and sing together but let’s feel the pain of those who can’t join in on
the celebrations because today still they are on the margins, hiding in the
shadows, being cast out from their families and communities and even killed and
tortured. Let’s remember that the job isn’t done, indeed far from it. Many
countries still have in their laws harsh punishment for those that don’t
conform to their established norms. Let’s keep the fight on, the light on, the
courage on, the voices loud and the minds open. Happy Pride.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street (or boardwalk), this time featuring Aloha, Buff Monster, David Puck, Divine, Fox Fisher, Homo Riot, IronClad, Jason Naylor, Joe Caslin, JPO, Meres One, Nomad Clan, Ori Carino, Royce Bannon, Sam Kirk, SAMO, SeeTf, and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh.
From Tatyana about this piece: “Some of Us Did Not Die. We’re Still Here. – June Jordan, Black, bi-sexual, activist, poet and writer. .
Last fall I met with members of @griotcircle, a community of LGBTQ+ Black and brown elders for my residency with @nycchr. I got to speak with them about their lives and some things that came up were the challenges of being Black and gay in New York years ago, like having to travel in groups because queer folks would be attacked for walking alone. Or not being served at restaurants because they were also black. “
Its an exciting time for art in the public sphere right now in NYC as Roger Gastman and his huge team are seriously preparing 100,000 sf of space in Williamsburg to completely blow away graffiti and Street Art fans alike this week with Beyond The Streets. Meanwhile the city is pumping full of at least 50 sanctioned and unsanctioned World Pride murals, Garrison Buxton pulled off the 9th Welling Court grassroots mural festival in Queens, Joe Ficalora brought Rick Ross and a host of Street Artists to Bushwick for a block party, MadC was in town hanging with Crash, Joe Caslin and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh were putting up new pieces with L.I.S.A. Project yesterday, Queen Andrea finished her commercial Houston Wall gig, and a lot of ad hoc illegal and legal graffiti and Street Art is in full effect in all five boroughs. When it comes to art in the streets, New York says ‘Bring it!’
yeliner, Jason Naylor, John Ahearn, JPO, MadC, MeresOne, Misshab, Outer Source, Queen Andrea, Ramiro Davaro-Comas, SacSix, Sonni, Tonk Hawaii and The Drif.
In an era where people may feel more under attack, more alienated, more disconnected from one another (despite “always on” connectivity), comes this new campaign from Dirty Bandits, “You Are Not Alone”. New York walls have been popping up recently (see above) with this message and somehow it completely resonates, hopefully just in time to remind someone struggling.
Brooklyn based lettering artist Annica Lydenberg of the design company Dirty Bandits tells us that this was an idea she came up with her best friend who had recently published a memoir about living with anxiety disorder. The he murals are intended to have broad appeal and offer support to anyone who feels misunderstood, victimized, or abandoned.
She tells us that people need to know “they are not the only ones struggling with mental health. My wish is to be seen as an ally, for not only mental health, but to the many communities who do not feel supported.” She says the campaign is not strictly commercial, although it is certainly not anonymous and some funding came from a media concern. But we agree that it is a very worthwhile message, can actually help people and if you want to learn more go HERE.
As long as we are on the topic, please call these numbers right now if you need help:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Suicide Hotline 1-866-488-7386
Teen suicide hotline 1-800-USA-KIDS (872-5437)
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring Abe Lincoln Jr., Adam Fu, Cash4, Dirty Bandits, Elms, Icy & Sot, Jason Naylor, Mad Villain, Maia Lorian, Rude Reps, SAMO, Sinned, Smells, Soar, UFO907, Victor Ash, and Winston Tseng.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring 1UP Crew, Amanda Browder, Antennae, City Kitty, Dirt Worship, Dragon76, Jason Naylor, LMNOPI, London Kaye, Makatron, Sheyro, The Yok, and Trap.
New York, New York, in the thick of summer. The heat is heavy with humidity, smells of hotdogs, marijuana, perfume, piss. The flat screen sunglasses now on every sweet face hide the glances and stares of the voracious, the vacuous, the visionary, the vexed, and those voluntarily enraptured by romance. Again we take refuge under a tree, on a bench, in the grass with our dog, in the frozen food section with our kids, on the sunbaked and garbage strewn sand in Coney Island, on the fire escape with our swollen-lipped and rosy cheeked lover. And everywhere is art and architecture and stoop sales and thumping music and jackhammers and the swooping yell of “gooooooooaaaaaaaalllll!” from a nearby sports bar during this month of the World Cup.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Alex Proba, Arkane, Blanco, City Kitty, David Hollier, Invader, Irak, Jason Naylor, LMNOPI, Mowcka, Phoebe New York, Renee Caoulette, Rubin 415, Staino, and Stikman.