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.
Rachel Carson died on this day in 1964 – her life awakening man/womankind’s environmental conscience.
Today on Earth Day we remember that corporations hire PR firms to tell us misinformation about the damage they are doing – or as Carson once said, we are “fed little tranquilizing pills of half truth.”
street, and Street Artists, are these days pulling no punches. We celebrate that.
The art works featured here from Studio Number One are available to download for free as posters for printing or squares for Social Media. Click on the link below to download your free poster:
Williamsburg streetwalkers have recently discovered a new cluster of Mr. Toll’s hand-painted clay sculptures on the streets of Brooklyn after a prolonged absence. His style has evolved a little, adding more detail and fluidity perhaps, and so have his subjects and interests. Prolific when he’s producing, he’s known to touch on difficult and topical issues such as immigration, environmental degradation, and systemic racism. His work sometimes has the punch of a political cartoon; direct and to the point but with a sense of humor.
Quality, craftsmanship, and a DIY ethos ; its all here with Mr. Toll.
At its core, the community mural performs a very important role in unifying a neighborhood by focusing attention and coalescing around a common sentiment. Whether social, political, or poetic, they give a public voice to memories, aspirations, philosophies, agendas.
By highlighting the dominant sentiments about a particular event or topic, community murals in cities and towns also serve as a physical location where people meet in the public context to discuss weighty matters, to share stories, to pass on history, to trade gossip, to organize, to celebrate or mourn individually and collectively.
The United Nation’s World Food Programme worked again this year with a number of Street Artists in San Salvador to create a mural that scrutinizes the nature of a people’s history and the fundamentals of its social, political, economic strengths.
“The mural itself speaks of the market as a place to exchange goods and that creates community and has done so since El Salvador was a country, when it’s people already cultivated the grains and vegetables that continue to be sold at this market today,” says New Jersey based Street Artist and muralist Layqa Nuna Yawar, originally from Ecuador. He painted side by side his homeboy Mata Ruda along with history student Rafael Osorio and local artists Lolipop, Cristian Lopez and Issac Martinez for this mural on the facade of Mercado Cuscatlan, a public market and Library complex.
“The murals also show us traditional culture, dresses, games, poets, geography and flora and fauna that all have local meaning and importance to the people of San Salvador,” LNY says. “The mural on the library side speaks of knowing your history in order to grow and move forward to a better future. It does so by depicting a young woman, one of the local artist’s family members, reading a book on history. In this book the same girl is depicted in traditional colonial garb reading a book on national history, meanwhile her mind is filled with imagery of the cosmos.”
Part of the ConectArte program in cooperation with San Salvador mayor’s office and the United Nation’s World food program, Layqa Nuna Yawar and Street Artist/organizer Jamie Toll say that the collective process that goes into a community mural is necessary to produce a collective narrative. They say they wanted the artists to function as amplifiers for the ideas as well as the aesthetics.
“We spent time developing the design for the mural collectively without having this be a single authored project but a product of actual exchange and conversation with proper credit going to those involved,” says Layqa Nuna Yawar. “This exchange continues as our relationships with these artists grow beyond the project itself.”
While You Were Sleeping is a Korean TV series about a woman who can see the future in her dreams, and a prosecutor who fights to stop these future events from happening. The title also makes us think about the scam of a Tax bill passed while you were sleeping in the middle of the night between Friday and Saturday.
The servants of the rich, these wolves, are facilitating the largest transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class up to their masters for well into the future, and it appears that few are awake to see it. It also pulls health insurance out from underneath 13 million sleeping people. The majority of the country was against this but the servants pushed it through anyway when you weren’t stirring. Good night!
Street Art better be dope ya’ll, because that’s where many of us will be living soon – the street.
But we are wide awake for sex scandals, by golly. Powerful men are being accused by past alleged victims from every sector in society right now. We are keeping our fingers crossed that Santa Claus can stay above the fray!
Meanwhile, the tree got lit this week in Rockefeller Center, a lot of people are going to get lit this month at their office holiday party, many NYC art denizens are heading to the Miami Basel Circus this week, and apparently there is supposed to be some Street Art thing happening there too.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring BD White, Daek, Elbi Elem, Elisa Capdevila, Faile, Jason Woodside, Jerkface, Kai, Killjoy, Magda Love, Mazatl, Mr. Toll, Ola Kalnins, Praxis, Timothy Goodman, and Sonni.
It’s LGBTQ Pride weekend in New York, the home of the original Stonewall Inn where all the colorful queens bashed back at the cops in 1969. All of these years’ celebrations seem more militant in the face of President Pence’s virulent statements and acts against anybody not straight like him and his “mother”.
Also it’s Eid al-Adha today, the end of Ramadan and a big celebration for Muslim New Yorkers, so best wishes to you.
“Yes, I’m an infowarrior,” says the African American yelling about how CNN is promoting Sharia Law in downtown Manhattan for the #MarchAgainstSharia and a short distance away someone is wrapping the “Fearless Girl” statue with a black burka. The infowarrior is wearing a red “Make America Free” baseball hat and very much seems like he might be gay. And then your head explodes.
Otherwise the weather has been gorgeous and Street Artists have been getting up in New York, when they are not too busy fighting about the David Choe wall and calculating new ways to spray over it. We have brand new mural works from people like Dasic, Cekis, and Case Maclaim, and there is a lot more political content in the new free-range Street Art that we are seeing, with much of it focused on the corruption at the top of the national government, racism, environmental matters, the growing police state.
So here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Adam Fujita, Beast, Blanco, Brandon Garrison, Cekis, Dasic, Dirty Bandits, El Sol 25, FKDL, Jetsonorama, Jerk Face, Joe Iurato, Logan Hicks, Mataruda, Mr. Toll, Myth NYC, Opiemme, S0th1s, and She Wolf.
Six street artists took their social engagement a step further in El Salvador last month and taught youth some serious skillz from the street.
Coming from Brazil, Australia, Ecuador, Mexico, New York, and New Jersey, this international crew took the time to share and teach about painting, art, and how community can be built. The program Conect-Arte is a newly launched initiative by the United Nations World Food Programme, which as the name suggests, also is in the city to address a more core need to battle food insecurity. With Conect-Arte the goal is to also meet youth in some communities and help with positive role models an options with an eye on transforming lives through developing art and related creative skills that can provide income and channel energy in ways productive to community.
Together the artists worked on projects with 45 teens and younger kids over the course of the a week-long workshop in San Salvador, teaching street art techniques like stencil, lettering, mural painting, sculpture, even hot air balloon making. The goals are huge, like reducing violence, food insecurity, increasing access to economic opportunity. The tools here are art, the creative spirit, and strengthening relationships.
We bring you some images of the works that were made by the visiting artists and some of their observations and experiences during the Conect-Arte program.
For her large mural project, Street Artist Vexta referenced the national bird, the Talapo, but creating two together in “Todos Estamos Conectados”. She says it is a reflection mural of this now endangered species at the entrance of a nascent community center called Teatro Camara Roque Dalton. During her installation she worked with three students and they experimented with abstract painting techniques, washes, spray paint, stencils and colour theory.
Brooklyn Street Art:How can a project like this help people feel connected to their city and their neighbors? Vexta: This is a great question. In San Salvador there are very physical divisions that are highly visible – tall concrete fences topped with razor wire and the favela type neighborhoods which are often gang controlled territories. So people are really disconnected.
Conect-Arte enabled two groups of young people to come together from two distinct neighborhood areas – The Historic Centre and San Jacinto. The young people in the workshops got to connect with other young people that they wouldn’t have met otherwise, new friends were made and skills shared. This was super beautiful to see.
Its really hard for young people in San Salvador who live in poorer neighborhoods to move about the city. The threat of gang and police violence is very real. My group in particular made plans to stay in touch, to make more art together and start break-dancing together.
Whilst I was painting at Roque Dalton I had quite a few local people come to thank me for creating something beautiful in their neighborhood, and especially within the historic centre which is an area that is quite neglected, rundown and old. I think art in the streets can provide people with something they can feel proud of, a focal point or new memory site that is not an advertisement billboard or an architectural symbol – which is how we usually navigate modern cities.
This time they can say “I live near the twin birds that were painted for me” instead of “I live by the Mister Donut.” I hope my piece can bring a sense of the joy for life in a place struggling to remember what the value of life is. To me when you are seeing people approach the building to spend time taking photos of themselves and their friends and family, actively engaging with the art, is proof of a very real connection occurring between people and their city.
Brooklyn Street Art:Is it difficult to try to represent poetry visually? LNY: It could be difficult yes but to me it became a matter of reacting to the poetry as opposed to try to represent it literally – which is the same way that I approach making context-sensitive art or murals. The poem was a starting point for our conversation and it helped inspire ideas, images, a mood and an internal narrative for the mural. We reacted to the poem the way dancing is a reaction to music, but we were not bound by a literal representation of the poem.
Brooklyn Street Art: An average person can encounter a mural or a poem and, without context, have an interpretation that is very different from what the author intended. Do you ever feel like you want to leave an explanation near your artwork so a passerby can understand it better? LNY: Art has the power and range of a self contained language, one that works just like a written one but benefits from not being attached to a particular official language, nation or culture. See, I find myself traveling to lands where I do not speak the local language, be it literally or the proper vernacular, but by making art I get to bridge that gap and communicate regardless – the universal language of art allows me to communicate beyond English or Spanish or what have you.
So that’s one thing, art can fully explain itself as a visual language. Then you have the problem of interpretation which I, as an artist, will never fully control so let’s not go there. Lastly, and what I think becomes really interesting, is the idea of audience as far as an explanation would go.
My answer was to somehow take an interpretation of a poem and turn it into something new and visual that you can now read as a mural, as its own thing, as an experience with its own language – as a new and self contained visual poem.
In descriptions of the project the subject of safety in San Salvador comes up frequently, with stories of youth and families restricted to safe zones behind walls, fences, barbed wire for fear of violence from gangs and heavy handed authorities. Mexican Street Artist Paola Delfin created her piece entitled Tu eres yo¨/ ¨You are me” in one of these protected neighborhoods.
She says in the group’s press release ” This wall is inspired by many factors, after finding out a bit about the area where the wall is situated – A neighborhood consider safe in San Salvador. El Salvador is a country that a lot of people think of as a really wild place, but you can also find so many pretty things and beautiful people, this wall for example is the facade of ¨La Casa Tomada¨ a really inspiring place where many young people get together to create and learn from each other about art, music, media and many things.”
Brooklyn Street Art:Does San Salvador have a particular personality on the street? How does an artist effectively speak to that audience on the street with their work? Paola Delfin: Unfortunately I didn’t have much time to check out a lot of places around San Salvador, but I felt really related to it. I felt it looks pretty similar to Mexico, and I think the contrasts you can find there are pretty similar as well.
I think not only the Salvadorian audience but a lot of people from nearby countries (even my own) expect to communicate their thoughts and concerns about a lot of situations that are happening. I guess that we as artists have to find the way to share their thoughts and try to focus on the impact that our own thoughts could have on the people who see our work.
Street Artist Mr Toll created a number food related sculptural pieces in reference to the food scarcity issue in his work with the youth. Twisting the name of his project, he literally was making “Street Food” (Comida Callejera). He is quoted in the group’s press release saying,
“One of the major concerns in San Salvador is Food Security. This inspired my workshop and subsequent Street Sculpture collaborations with the students. During the workshops we focused on the healthy everyday foods the youth come in contact with, we discussed different issues while preparing the sculptures and then brought them together on the street as food face collages,” obviously injecting a brand of comedy that the kids could appreciate.
“The opportunity of working directly on the street as a group gave the youth the freedom to play, experiment and feel safe in a public domain which generally they don’t have access too,” he says. “They face many restrictions due to gang activity and a heavy handed police presence in San Salvador. It was important for me to help to bring a little fun and humor in a creative way to their lives in a city faced with many difficulties.”
Adapted from the original Chinese hot air balloons, artesian balloons have had many cultures artistic influences in the last century. Brazilian Street Artist Claudio Ethos and members of the Sao Paulo based graffiti crew called 14 B.I.S crew (Sao Paulo) had a workshop promoting the art form by teaching how to make them. Called locally by the name of Globos, the project involved elements of mathematics, physics and geometry as well as a very necessary requirement of collaboration.
Globo Lokos was the project name and working together with the youth was especially rewarding because of the airborne result of their collaborative efforts. “The focus,” says Ethos, “was start to finish object making, where the young people had the opportunity to show their city, where they live, that they can make art and be artists. We helped the youth to make the balloons drawn with art to send their prays and wishes to the sky, Then they launched their works of art into the sky, which is a very powerful action,” according to the press release.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring BAT, Billi Kid, Binho, D7606, Damien Mitchell, Enzo Sarto, Freddy Sam, JMZ Walls, Kafka, Maya Hayuk, Modus, Mr. Toll, Otto “Osch” Schade, Pyramid Oracle, Ricky Lee Gordon, Seb Gorey, Weed Dude, and Zeso.
A lot of people thought so, and the rise of commercial festivals and commissioned public/private mural programs probably brought more artists to more walls than in recent history. Judging from the In Box, 2016 is going to break more records. Enormous, polished, fully realized and presented, murals can hold a special role in a community and transform a neighborhood, even a city.
But they are not the “organic” Street Art that draws us into the dark in-between places in a city, or at its margins.
We keep our eyes open for the small, one-off, idiosyncratic, uncommissioned, weirdo work as well, as it can carry clues about the culture and reveal a sage or silly solo voice. It also just reinforces the feeling that the street is still home to an autonomous free-for-all of ideas and opinions and wandering passions. For us it is still fascinating to seek out and discover the one-of-a-kind small wheatpastes, stencils, sculptures, ad takeovers, collages, and aerosol sprayed pieces alongside the enormous and detailed paintings that take days to complete.
The main image above is from a vinyl subway advertisement that was high-jacked and we published it in February of this year on our Images of the Week posting. It’s small, personal, and very effective as you can see someone suspiciously similar to Batman is jumping out of the mouth of someone looking awfully similar to Hedwig of “Angry Inch” fame.
Of the 10,000 or so images photographer Jaime Rojo took in 2015, here are a selection 140+ of the best images from his travels through streets looking for unpermissioned and sanctioned art.
Brooklyn Street Art 2015 Images of the Year by Jaime Rojo
Brooklyn Street Art 2015 Images of the Year by Jaime Rojo includes the following artists;
365xlos43, Amanda Marie, Andreas Englund, Augustine Kofie, Bisser, Boijeot, Renauld, Bordaloli, Brittany, BunnyM, Case Maclaim, Casg, Cash4, CDRE, Clet, Cost, Curve, Dain, Dal East, Dan Budnik, Dan Witz, David Walker, DeeDee, Dennis McNett, Don Rimx, Ricardo Cabret, LNY, Alex Seel, Mata Ruda, Don’t Fret, Dot Dot Dot, ECB, El Mac, El Sol25, Ella & Pitr, Eric Simmons, Enest Zacharevic, Martha Cooper, Martin Whatson, Ever, Faile, Faith47, Findac, Futura, Gaia, Gilf!, Hanksy, Hellbent, Hot Tea, How & Nosm, Icy and Sot, Inti, Invader, Isaac Cordal, James Bullough, Janet Dickson, Jef Aerosol, Jilly Ballistic, Joe Iurato, John Fekner, Le Diamantaire, Li Hill, LMNOPI, London Kaye, Low Brow, Marina Capdevilla, Miss Van, Mr. Prvrt, Mr. Toll, Myth, Nafir, Nemos, Never Crew, Nick Walker, Nina Pandolofo, Old Broads, Oldy, Ollio, Os Gemeos, Owen Dippie, Paper Skaters, Pet Bird, Kashink, Smells, Cash4, PichiAvo, Pixel Pancho, QRST, ROA, Ron English, Rubin415, Saner, Sean 9 Lugo, Shai Dahan, Shepard Fairey, Sheryo & The Yok, Sinned, Sipros, Skewville, Slikor, Smells, Sweet Toof, Snowden, Edward Snowden, Andrew Tider, Jeff Greenspan, Specter, Stray Ones, Sweet Toof, Swil, Willow, Swoon, The Outings Project, Toney De Pew, Tristan Eaton, Various & Gould, Vermibus, Wane, Wk Interact
The Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic has completed his fourth collaboration with a photograph by Martha Cooper. Well executed in this New York location, Ernest is drawing inspiration from Ms. Cooper’s photographs of children at play on New York’s Lower East Side of Manhattan in the 1970s.