There’s street cred, and then there’s social media credit. These are 15 of the latter, compiled by BSA by our own rigorous methodology.
Bears lead the pack! A monkey is here as well. Skulls and Biggie Smalls make it in again. Text wisdom also wins along with representations of the natural world like Pejac’s tree and Naomi Rag’s flower. And a rep for Game of Thrones and the horrors of Hitchcock as well – you knew popular culture would represent.
These are the top murals from 2018 via tabulations of our website, Instagram, Twitter, and two Facebook pages. In a thoroughly unscientific survey that calculates “likes” and “clicks” and “re-Tweets” and “impressions”, and every year we cannot predict which one’s are going to be popular, but sometimes you can guess. We don’t publish a lot of murals of cats, but if we did, they would probably win. Just guessing.
This year we’re drawn to the two written word pieces, likely because they are erudite and witty to some extent – and because it is good to see how smart BSA readers are. Brilliant, we say!
Welcome to your favorite murals of the year:
15 – Banksy.
A tribute. A plea. A denunciation. A well used example of the artist’s platform to bring awareness of the plight of artists who dare to set themselves free with their art. Depicted here is Ms. Zehra Doğan, an editor and journalist from Turkey. She is presently serving time in jail for painting Turkish flags on a painting showing destroyed buildings and posting the painting on Social Media. Marking the time with tick
Banksy. Free Zehra Doğan. NYC. Houston/Bowery Wall. March 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
14 – Sonny Sundancer.
Sonny Sundancer finishes his final mural for his #totheboneproject , a grizzly titled “Standing Tall” looking out over Greenwich Village.
“Standing Tall” was done in conjunction with The L.I.S.A Project NYC. May 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
13 – Axe Colours.
Axe Colours goes GOT and the question going into 2019 in many people’s minds is: Will she or won’t she?
The Mother of Dragons on the streets of Barcelona as interpreted by Axe Colours. This photo was taken on November 2017 but shared on Instagram on February of 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
12 – Owen Dippie.
New Zealand artist Owen Dippie is known for pairing pop characters in his realistic large scale work. Here’s an odd couple of film director Hitchcock and Brooklyn rapper Biggie Smalls.
Pigeons, Ravens, Cigars, Mystery and Music on the streets of Brooklyn. September 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
11 – Kobra.
Brazilian artist Kobra gave himself a residency in NYC this year with the goal of painting as many murals as time and available walls would permit him. He succeeded by painting 18 walls throughout NYC – mostly the top level easy to identify icons found on t-shirts, posters and postcards for decades here. One of his portraits of Amy Winehouse proved to be hugely popular.
Kobra. Amy Winehouse. Manhattan, October 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
1o – Disordered.
Anxiety rings true when the giveaways to business interests for nearly four decades under both dominant parties have gradually placed folks like these in this neighborhood constantly in fear of missing the rent, the grocery bill, the car payment, the cost of providing for their kids. Disordered is right.
#DISORDERED. Done in Welling Court, Queens for Welling Court 2018. July 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
9 – Kaos.
The KAOS Factory, colloquially named because the German graffiti artist by the same name has slowly taken it over with his work during the last few years, by default converting the former steam factory into his de facto “residency”.
KAOS. The Kaos Factory. Leipzig, Germany. October 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
8 – Naomi Rag.
Not specifically a Street Artist, Naomi Rag crochets her favorite things and puts them up mainly on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. This simple rose on a school yard fence steadily garnered attention throughout the year – and reminded us of this song from the 1960s.
“There is a rose in Spanish Harlem
A red rose up in Spanish Harlem
It is a special one, it’s never seen the sun
It only comes out when the moon is on the run
And all the stars are gleaming
It’s growing in the street right up through the concrete
But soft and sweet and dreaming…”
Jerry Leiber & Phil Spector
Naomi Rag. Red Rose in Spanish Harlem. March 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
7 – GlossBlack.
New York is a constant source of inspiration for countless artists of all disciplines who have made a home and hopefully a career in this dynamic city of endless serendipity and challenge. GlossBlack hit the mark with this tough and tumble tribute to the city.
GlossBlack in collaboration with Klughaus in Manhattan. March 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
6 – Bordalo II.
Bordalo II has evolved a spectacular practice of creating street works from our refuse that shock and thrill many a passersby with his ingenuity and evocative image making – while raising our collective consciousness about our responsibility to the earth.
Bordalo II. Lisbon, Portugal. June 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
4 – BKFoxx.
With a commercial eye toward the natural world and larger societal issues BKFoxx chooses subjects for their emotional impact and their ability to translates easily for an image-savvy audience whose endless hours of personal screen entertainment has produced an expectation for a big budget Hollywood and consumer culture slickness with high-production values.
BKFoxx in collaboration with JMZ Walls. Bushwick, Brooklyn. April 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
3 – Terry Urban.
Inspiration to create flows from many rivers and tributaries. Many times that inspiration comes from a fellow artist as is the case here. Art is for everyone, and the street is more than ever a perfect place to see it.
Terry Urban channeling Basquiat in Manhattan. January 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
3 – Egle Zvirblyte.
Egle’s feminism is abundantly clear on her work. A mixture of pop and riddles and unabashedly self assured.
Egle Zvirblyte. A project curated by BSA with the production assistance and wall access from Joe Franquinha / Crest Hardware and paint donated by Montana Cans. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
2 – Pejac.
The Spaniard Pejac came for a few weeks to New York this spring and left this piece in Bushwick. The wall is a brick façade typical of many Brooklyn neighborhoods, but this one appears to have grown a tree this week. Perhaps he chose to paint this tree because the promise of spring had inspired him, or because this neighborhood remains industrial and could benefit from some more of nature’s influence. For us it’s all about context so it is good to see that a tree grows in Brooklyn.
Pejac. The Bushwick Collective. Brooklyn, NYC. March 2018. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
1 – Adrian Wilson
Just in under the wire and straight to number 1, this cleverly turned phrase and hooded ideogram is an ironic amalgam of Banksy and Warhol that hit the nerve of readers who are becoming acutely aware of us all slipping into a surveillance society. Also, it’s funny.
We only published this mural in December but the number of hits and comments across social media indicated that it resonates strongly across a wide demographic. Photographer, videographer, former gallery owner and infrequent Street Artist Adrian Wilson clearly is not shooting for anonymity.
Top image: Adrian Wilson plays with words to reflect our pop culture trolling both Warhol and Banksy. (photo © Jaime Rojo)