Manchester in UK hosted a street art convention in May called “Cities of Hope” and 10 international artists worked on pieces that often addressed issues of social justice. Swiss duo Christian Rebecchi and Pablo Togni, who comprise Nevercrew, addressed the theme of immigration and there piece gives a sense of the seemingly impossible odds that many people face when attempting to escape war and persecution in search of a refuge.
“We are extremely glad to have been part of this project based on social justice issues and so strongly connected to the city and to its people,” the guys say in reference to the experience painting “Inhuman Barriers.” The two worked in support of the local solidarity group WASP (Women Asylum Seekers Together).
Additional participants in Cities of Hope include Axel Void, C215, Case Maclaim, Faith47, Phlegm, Martin Whatson, Pichi&Avo, Hyuro, and Dale Grimshaw.
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
People’s Street Art preferences can be very hard to predict. On social media we can reliably tell you that opinions are unreliable. Murals that we are sure you’ll love fall flatter than a one-sided pancake. Conversely, that piece we were tepid about? – Up the charts faster than a Kardashian in search of a camera.
With that in mind we thought you might like to see how the top social platforms sorted out the shots of 2015 by our Editor of Photography, Jaime Rojo.
We surveyed the number of “Likes” and shares his images received on Instagram, and Facebook in 2015 and based purely on the numbers, here are the Top 15.
No. 15 : Os Gemeos in Manhattan
Brazilian twin brothers Octavio and Gustavo are Os Gemeos and this year they began popping out of walls – and that’s not all! See the original posting here :
Looks like we picked a winner when BSA curated Iranian brothers ICY and SOT onto this Berlin facade of the Urban Nation. Following the theme of our “Persons of Interest” show there in March with some of Brooklyn’s finest Street Artists, the brothers reflected the fall of the Berlin Wall in the face of this Brooklyn-based woman. Look for a release of their book by Lebowski Publishers with an essay by BSA telling the story of the Tabriz-now-Brookyn-based ICY and SOT to be released in Spring 2016.
Surreal illustrationist Alexis Diaz has been making brains stretch and stand up and clap with his murals from Miami to Hawaii to Lodz, Poland this year, continually impressing with his meticulous and tight cross-hatching skills, wildly wide imagination, and his uncanny ability to collaborate stylistically with other artists. This relatively small piece by him in Manhattan turned heads for months and earned this pic lots of attention via BSA.
Essentially a live shot of the last frame for a stop -action mural video (featured on BSA Film Friday: 11.06.15) this image got a lot of traffic probably because of it’s perceived political critique of the Republican Party – but the artists say that they weren’t even familiar with US politics when they made it.
“Dian is a street artist from European art label Life is Porno. In 2015, he decided to do a series of stop-frame stop frame animations around Europe and the world. This time he turned a building in Brooklyn, NYC into his animated reality. And grew an elephant from his mushrooms…
(The) whole animation was spray-painted, without any computer animation. The Bullshit sign was installed by a legendary fusion artist Shalom Neuman.”
“The Spanish Street Art duo Pichiavo brought the antiquities and modern day graffiti together last week on a soaring multi-story wall in Borås, Sweden,” we wrote of this multi-story mural that appealed to many readers this September. It’s the sort of formula that works again and again for these guys, most recently in Miami last week.
Participating in the same small festival (Borås “No Limit)” as PichiAvo above, the artist Dal East captured the imagination of BSA readers with this soaring wingspan painted high upon a five stepped modern facade building across from a textile university campus.
The first of two entries by Kiwi Owen Dippie on our Top 15 list for 2015, this merging of Raphael’s Madonna with Haring’s radiant baby snapped people out of their stupor with the unconventional paring. A fan of both artists, Dippie’s mural reminded us of Haring’s flirtation with Christian “Born Again” fundamentalism before he decided to be an out gay man in the 1980s – at a time when the so-called Moral Majority was ready to send gays to be quarantined because of the AIDS crisis. This three story mural by Dippie is still vibrating with the tensions he encompassed in this one powerful composition.
Outside of this Lithuanian Street Artists’ typical wheelhouse, its the irony of this piece that contains his DNA. Capturing the same commercial advertising linguistic that Street Artists typically lampoon, the text based riff clearly draws the connection to the appreciation for hand-style that originally marked a “style” revolution in graffiti. Maybe it was this timeless “instant classic” quality that drew so many fans on Instagram and Facebook.
The French couple were in the town of Stavanger to create the World’s Largest Mural so comparatively this was just doodle on the back of an envelope for Ella & Pitr, but something about it struck a chord with you this September.
His pensive and looming old men and women from Morroco have been made into a book recently, but ECB made this guy in dirty old Brooklyn this year and photographer Jaime Rojo caught it a day after heavy rains provide this reflective moment. Read more about ECB’s portraits of working folks in : The Trades: Street Artist ECB Traces Morocco’s Faces
Nearing 20 years in the game, the Spanish Street Artist Okuda is always a pleaser with his rich-hued pop surrealism and geometrics that mimic the man-made urban environment. Here his organic forms in a New York doorway pop out from the dim grayness of the streetscape.
One of the current crop of photo-realists that are drawing so much attention, Ma’Claims’ meditation is often on hands. This one may have had additional appeal on Social platforms because of it’s combination of skin colors and its appearance during the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” marches in cities across the US.
The Bristol-born Mr. Walker has a soft spot for New York and this placement outside a pizza parlor of his iconic bowler-hatted avatar made a lot of connections for viewers on Facebook who shared this image like crazy last winter.
A commercial wheatpaste project with The New York City Ballet, their principal dancer the ballerina Lauren Lovette, a documentary called LES BOSQUETS, and a real estate developer, this image of a woman flying through the air to kiss Manhattan’s sky was so riveting that it continued to ricochet JR’s image across digital devices for months after we posted it.
No. 1 : Owen Dippie “Ninja Renaissance Masters” in Brooklyn
With 1.1 million shares across our Facebook page, this merging of four Renaissance master visages and the 1990s Ninja Turtles masks leap-frogged every other image we posted this year, and busted peoples’ brains open. The New Zealand based Dippie was killing it this summer in Brooklyn before heading out to the West Coast, but this trackside trick continued to draw visitors long after he headed back to his homeland, and his pic wins 2015 decisively. See the original posting here : Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello Spotted in BKLN : Owen Dippie Lies in Wait
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening :
1. NYCHOS: Translucent Fear
2. Jamel Shabazz, Street Photographer
3. VHILS: Incision
4. Pichi & Avo for “No Limit” Boras
BSA Special Feature: NYCHOS: Translucent Fear
Nychos sees through the animal world with a fantastical and splendid x-ray vision, his huge murals peeling back layers of skin and muscle and veins and organs using spray cans as his knife. Here in the studio he prepares canvasses using the same precision, this time with the brush and airbrush as scalpel, handle, blade. Employing a new concept, many of his animals are clear for you to see in their entirety beneath a clear shell. The show show now running at Zurich’s Kolly Gallery is called Translucent Fear, and the video appropriate for this Halloween season wouldn’t you agree?
Jamel Shabazz, Street Photographer
Yeah its a trailer. Yeah it’s Jamel Shabazz. That’s all we need to know. Where’s Brooklyn at?
“The best poems ever written destroyed a white sheet of paper,” says the ever serious philosopher VHILS as he schools us on his technique of creation through destruction. The process yields beauty, but at what cost, he asks – particularly when gauging the successes of the industrialized world and the losses of indigenous customs and ways of life. A sorrowful look at an impressive show called, “Incision”
Pichi & Avo for “No Limit” Boras
Pichi & Avo share this new timelapse of the piece they did at Boras “No Limit” in Sweden last month. You can read more about it here:
The Spanish Street Art duo Pichiavo brought the antiquities and modern day graffiti together last week on a soaring multi-story wall in Borås, Sweden. Ironically both are under attack at any given time these days – one by terrorists eager to erase and loot symbols of unholy civilization and the other by the municipal buffing of unsanctioned aerosol tags. In one mural the Valencia-based duo are encompassing many battles and, as it rises amidst a building complex that was once a textile mill here by the Viskan River, the duality of the piece is awash with color and movement like so many fabric dyes being dumped into a stream.
For Pichi and Avo, who merge their names as one on artworks, the creation process of their murals includes first laying down a blanket of aerosol tags and then precisely rendering the figures of Greek and Roman mythology and sculpture over top as a semi-transparent screen. In this case the fierce Greek goddess Latona guards her son Apollo and his sister Artemis, commanding the bricked space and raising questions.
As a passerby looks at this mashing of imagery one may be reminded of the fiery and perplexing tensions that exist in discussions in academic and public-policy circles about the worthiness of graffiti, street art, and urban art alongside traditionally more revered art forms and styles. Another audience will see the battles between the various practices on the streets themselves, of which Pichiavo are well acquainted. Witness the faded “Toy” bubble branded on the infants hip – a term used to disparaged new unskilled graffiti writers.
Pichiavo tell us that the supportive relationship depicted extends between the mother and her children and that the figures are deliberately chosen to portray their own experiences. “Our aim was to represent graffiti and Street Art and the overall movement through Leto’s figure. Here her children are the writers, or artists. According to Greek mythology Apollo and his sister Artemis were the most important protectors of Leto, defending her from attackers of all kinds. This allegory can be applied in the Street Art world, where many people try to take advantage of something that it is growing and we, the writers ourselves, need to defend and protect that which we care about.”
This is No Limit, the second installation of murals done primarily by Street Artists in Borås, a pristine and pleasant city about 45 minutes east of Gothenberg. With the leadership of artist Shai Dahan and organizers Stina Hallhagen and Anders Khil the local tourism office works year round to promote this festival and the quality of the pieces are top notch due to the careful choices of international big names and up-and-comers.
In addition to this diversity, the scale is varied with massive walls like those by the Chilean Inti and Poland’s Robert Proch, and more personal-sized installations in surprise locations around town by American illustration artist David Zinn and New Jersey’s sculptural stencillist Joe Iurato.
With maps, food trucks, tours, and near daily coverage from local media, including the largest outlet “Borås Tidning”, whose façade was painted this year by Los Angeles native Tristan Eaton, this city of about 65,000 turns out small crowds to watch the progress from the sidewalk and interact with the artists.
“The people here are enthusiastic about the artists and their works and really engage with the art,” says Dahan, who serves as director of the “No Limit” festival and who also organized a pop-up gallery show of work by international and local artists in the heart of the city.
Across the street from the university is a “first” for a mural by the Chinese-born artist DALeast, who has not previously worked in the industrial cerulean hue that dyes the fibre-like threads weaving an enormous flying bird’s wingspan across a graduated modern façade. Dahan tells us that it is meant to be seen from the ground level for students and faculty at The Swedish School of Textiles.
“When he arrived in town he sat with his black book right here,” he says, motioning to the contiguous wooden seating platform running along steps leading up to the august bird. “He sketched the entire mural from this vantage point, and this is the best perspective to see it from.”
Next year the city is planning a sculpture festival and the murals will return in 2017. In the mean time, have a look at new work from Curiot, DalEast, David Zinn, Dulk, Inti, Joe Iurato, Logan Hicks, Robert Proch, and Tristan Eaton.
The process of getting one of these huge murals up in Borås entails many hours, days, paint, a scissor lift, compressors, brushes, buckets, sandwiches, sunscreen, ponchos, lunches, bathroom breaks, discussions, last minute runs to the hardware store, drizzling and pouring rain, warming sun, and entertaining questions from the inquisitive passersby.
That last item on the list is particularly true here in Borås for the No Limit festival because director Shai Dahan and the tourism board here have done such a thorough job of publicizing the festival that literally crowds of spectators have greeted the artists at certain times during the past week, while the normal flow includes at least a handful of new people arriving at all times to take in the action first hand. Families, singles, old folks, boomers, skater kids – the interest level is rather unusual actually.
We only added to that number of spectators this week, but we also get to ride in the scissor lift so that is even more distracting to the artists. But what the heck.
Yes there will be finished pieces all presented together here for our No Limit round-up next Wednesday. In the mean time you can take a look here at some of the artists working on their walls in process high above the street in their buckets aloft in the sky, enjoying their final moments before they soon leave this town.
You knew it would happen eventually, like peanut butter and chocolate on their first date. One day the Internet would deliver to you two of your favorite things together – like cats and Street Art. Yes, it is called MIAU, an acronym that translated from spanish is The Unfinished Museum of Urban Art. The festival is pronounced the way you thought – meow!
Cynics among you, please turn your eyes away from the screen as we show you adorable scenes of murals by Street Artists who basically have adopted a tiny town of Fanzara, 35 minutes from Castellón de la Plana on the east coast of Spain. And by tiny we mean 323 people, most of them senior citizens.
It all happened innocently, according to stories heard by photographer Lluis Olive Bulbena and published reports, when two local guys wanted to invite a small number of Spanish Street Artists to paint murals in the town in the wake of bitter debates that had been happening around a proposed incinerator in town and creating rancor between citizens.
The pay would not be high; you’d sleep on somebody’s couch and eat home cooked kitchen cuisine, but it would be appreciated. An “adopt an artist” program was started and people volunteered to host a visiting painter. The town board came up with a small budget. Word spread quickly and the number of artists interested grew to 20. In little time, as citizens responded favorably, there were 40 new murals in town and many of them were done with some participation of residents.
That was 2014. Last month 21 more artists arrived, worked with local folks, did workshops, had film screenings, a few photo exhibits, had a PechaKucha night, involved youth in painting projects, helped create community, and were serenaded live while painting by La Rondalla Santa Cecilia, a 13 piece local band formed in 1983.
If you are wondering how much of this adorable story is the product of clever marketing strategies by savvy Gen X professionals who made their money in digital advertising campaigns and how much of this is genuine, we understand your suspicions: it is awfully cute. But the murals are real, and the town is real. And yes, there are a number of cats in the compositions as well.