“Szczecin before the Second World War was a German city,” says the street artist named M-City. Now it’s flying as a spaceship in his latest stencil mural here – in Poland.
It was part of a competition in this major cultural city of about 770,000; an airborne urban map inspired as much by the movie Star Wars as the Orion Constellation of this 1100-year-old city only 14 miles from Germany, formerly “Stettin”. It has a history of changing hands between Central European powers, and perhaps why it seems well suited to be up in the air, ready to move, soar, even crash.
About an hour via highway from Berlin, the activist and urban art professor M-City tells us that parts of the city that were not destroyed during WWII capture his imagination even now. “The architecture and plans are quite similar to those of Berlin,” he says. “And it looks like part of a spaceship, or a planet in science fiction movies. For me you can find a Falcon shape from Star Wars in there”.
The genesis of Pener’s new wall in Olsztyn, Poland goes back a year ago. He and Krzysztof Dąbkowski, who is the director of the Municipal Public Library of Olsztyn, agreed on the idea that the project should reflect the literary tradition of Warmia and Mazury, the Polish region in which Olsztyn is located.
Says Pener, “Specifically intertwined with the notion of “Atlantis of the North”, the author of which is the poet and writer Kazimierz Brakoniecki. I am very open to this type of synergistic projects that can significantly encourage reflection on our identity. As a creator and artist, I wanted to create something more than just an illustration for a literary text”.
The artist was inspired not just by the text of “Atlantis of the North” but also by the shape of the building, its location and the spatial context.
25 years in the game, Pener routinely lets his mind travel to encompass possibilities, then channels them abstractly through a series of echoing geometric forms with aerosol and brush. Here in his hometown of Olsztyn, Poland, he says he imagined the possibilities that young minds inside an elementary school could contemplate.
While painting this new “Mirror Land,” he was in a land of mirrors psychologically. He says he prefers to explore the “possible tension between our subconscious and conscious abilities that oscillate between reality and illusion.”
That’s a lot for kids to vocalize, granted, but he says he still engaged them when they watched and asked questions.
“Those were wonderful moments to hear them trying to solve what the wall depicts and hides,” he says.
As you make your resolutions for the new year, you may find yourself trimming the bushes of your life, pruning away the unproductive branches, as it were. Polish poet Tadeausz Nowak (1930-1991) may have been thinking of clearing away the dead brush when he wrote about “ludzikowie” (petty people) in his “Frolic Psalm”.
Polish street artist Michał ‘Sepe’ Wręga was born in Warsaw and tells us about this new mural he painted in his hometown as a tribute to the poet. Always in touch with his graffiti roots, Sepe now plays with a sophisticated palette like an illustrator and painter, giving these figures a maudlin cheer, mired as they are in trifling fixations.
To better describe his intentions with these pink and blue painterly depictions, Sepe quotes Nowak for us: “Heaven, oh heaven, pricked with spears, pierced through with a cow’s horn, poor petty people standing beneath with their God swamped in plaster”.
“Music with repetitive structures,” is how pianist and composer Phillip Glass describes his works, and our thoughts turn to this new solar storm by Pener (Bartek Świątecki).
No prancing sonata-allegro here, this spinning daffodil tempest is formed by minimalist geometric planes built up from repetition, whipped into shifting layers of motion, following one another in succession, each catching the light and the clouds as they pass warmly like so many chips of reflective and modernist musical notes.
Referencing his favored flower of the early spring and bringing it forward to stand alongside late August sunflowers, the Polish muralist and studio painter shares with BSA readers this inside wall he has just finished called Summer Daffodils. It’s a diagonal energy funnel descending down cubist stairs as auburn tinged solar forms, a storm sweeping out through the foyer to kick up and conviviate with abandon, or hold fire, folding down upon the cool green grass.
“I often take the names of walls or canvases from songs that I listen to while painting”- Bartek Pener Świątecki
Greece, Mexico, Poland, Detroit, Brooklyn, Tennesee, Texas, Asbury Park in New Jersey. Your favorite BSA stories were not limited to geography. Aerosol, wheat-paste, yarn, soldered steel, cut stencils, rollers, photography, even plants; Nor were they contained by technique or materials.
Giving live plants away in a refugee camp, queer pride phone
booth takeovers, a floriculture bus stop, a windswept installation constantly
in motion at a seaside resort. We paid homage to foundational documentarians of
graffiti and Street Art culture, watched an early 1980s French stencil
originator travel through the US south, and provided a platform for one of New
York’s most elusive writers who blasted apart definitions with his texts and
sculpture – all while keeping his own profile on the serious DL.
The creative spirit appears wherever we look on the street,
and luckily you love to observe and learn and get inspired by other’s work as
much as we do.
Based on the traffic to the website, on social media, and in
our email box, here are the top 10 stories that you loved the most in 2019 on
The Dusty Rebel: “Resistance is Queer”
Who writes your history? Who would gladly suppress it?
By reviving and celebrating those who the mainstream historically underplays, undercuts, neatly overlooks, and otherwise de facto silences, a new takeover campaign on NY streets helps write the history of LGBTQ struggle, and keeps it just as relevant as this moment.
Photographer and journalist The Dusty Rebel now curates the same streets he documents and shares with BSA readers today his determined campaign to revive, preserve, propel forward the significant players and events that have fought in their myriad ways, with the admonishment to keep fighting. With “Resistance is Queer” he uses his images and his respect for LGBTQ history to ensure that the full spectrum of people are recognized for their contributions to this civil rights struggle for equality.
We’re grateful that he has taken the time to explain in detail the people behind the images and their significance to him personally as well as their role in a people’s history.
The Dusty Rebel: “Resistance is Queer” Phone Booth Campaign in NYC. Continue reading HERE
Blek Le Rat Tours the US South
Tennessee and Texas Sample a Certain Street Savoir Faire
Look out for Le Rat!
He’s getting up in places down south that you wouldn’t normally
associate with a French Street Artist, much less the one who started
stenciling in a style and manner unusual on Paris walls in ’81 – an
antecedent for much of what we later would call ‘Street Art”.
Blek le Rat Tours The US South continue reading HERE
“Evolucion de una Revolucion” Outside in Queretaro, Mexico
“Martha Cooper isn’t only a
photographer, she’s a historian as well and you are here with us today
to pay homage to her work. Martha is my teacher and she taught me more
than graffiti, she’s taught me the way in which we live with art every
day. When we see a piece of art on the street we bring it into our daily
lives. That’s precisely Martha’s contribution to our lives”
Edgar Sánchez, co-founder of the Nueve Arte Urbano festival.
Under the magical spell of the Jacarandas in full bloom, a spirit of
Pax Urbana flowed through Queretaro’s lush public park Alameda Central
this weekend as dignitaries from the city, including the honorable
Andrea Avendaño, the Minister of Culture of the City of Queretaro, and
the Nueve Arte Urbano team hosted the opening of an outdoor exhibition
by famed photographer Martha Cooper.
The 101 photographs spanning four decades were enlarged and mounted
in weather resistant vinyl throughout the park, representing the full
range of Ms. Cooper’s continued focus on art in the streets.
Icy & Sot: Giving Plants and New Life to Refugees in Greece
Street Art brothers Icy and Sot once again lead by example with their latest act of artivism at a refugee camp in Greece.
People chased from their homes by wars in places like Syria, Iraq and
Afghanistan are now part of a larger conversation in Europe as
countries struggle to accept the massive numbers of refugees in the last
decade. On the Greek island of Lesbos, the overcrowding of a camp named
Moria has produced Olive Grove, a temporary place full of tents, but
With a goal of softening the hardship for people living here, Icy and Sot raised money through a print sale online and with the proceeds purchased fresh flowering plants to give away. “It was wonderful to see that actually put a smile on peoples’ faces for a moment,” they say in a press release.
Icy & Sot: Giving Plants And New Life To Refugees In Grece continue reading HERE
“Martha: A Picture Story”. Shots from the Premiere and Movie Review
First things first – Full disclosure; we are featured in the movie and we are close friends with both the subject of the doc and the director and we first suggested to the director that she was the perfect candidate to make a film about Martha Cooper. Now that we have that out of the way here are a number of shots from the premiere and our review of the movie:
Martha: A Picture Story had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this Thursday to an enthusiastic crowd that included big graffiti, Street Art, international press and film industry names, to see the highly anticipated documentary about the venerable photographer Martha Cooper by the Sydney director Selina Miles.
Martha A Picture Story. Shots From The Premiere And Movie Review continue reading HERE
Riding the Rails in the Bronx With “Henry Chalfant: Art vs. Transit, 1977 – 1987”
“We may have lost the trains, but we’ve gained the whole world.”
That’s a quote on the wall in the new exhibition at the Bronx Museum spotlighting the work of Henry Chalfant. The quote comes from Mare 139, one of the early graffiti writers of 1970s-80s trains in New York, referring to the now-scrubbed subway cars that once functioned as a mobile gallery for the young masters of cans throughout a metropolis that was in the grips of financial and social upheaval. Thanks to the work of artists and documentarians like Mr. Chalfant, the ephemeral works were captured, cared for, preserved, and spread throughout the world in the intervening years, in some ways helping to spawn a global interest and practice among burgeoning artists.
Riding The Rails in The Bronx With “Henry Chalfant: Art VS. Transit 1977 -1987 continue reading HERE
F*cking REVS: Interview on BSA by Freddy Alva
“Graffiti ain’t something you do, it’s something you live,” says the text above a wildly lettered REVS piece in a 1996 photo taken in El Paso. If there is a New York graffiti/Street Art icon that you would identify with a credo like this, he’s definitely one. Self-secreted away from the limelight and distrustful of many of the characters that are on the graffiti/Street Art “scene” today, REVS is nearly a New York folk hero, despite appearing to be completely firm in his anti-establishment, anti-commercial views – rooted in punk and hardcore music and those values that helped form his sometimes shape-shifting character since the the 1980s.
F*cking REVS: Interview on BSA By Freddy Alva continue reading HERE
“Nostalgia” Brings Floriculture to the Tram Stop in Łódź, Poland.
As we move further from graffiti and mark-making in public
art-making, is it a revelation that the desire to be seen, to have your
voice heard, is the common denominator again, regardless of the form of
this case, a tram shelter in Poland preserves the natural world in resin,
a mix master, the artist here samples someone else’s handiwork and remixes it,
adding a filter, chopping it up and repeating it.
Nostalgia Brings Floriculture to the Tram Stop in Lodz, Poland continue reading HERE
Banksy X Mercedes: Is This a Parody??
Yes, of course.
This artists’ interpretation of a car ad that features Banksy’s work is a parody, a farce. No one would try to take one of Banksy’s Street Art pieces to help sell their luxury cars, claiming that his work is in public domain and therefore fair game for any use.
Similarly, if it was a mural on the street by Brooklyn Street Artist KAWS, whose fine art canvas sold at auction this week for $14.7 million dollars at Sothebys Hong Kong, Mercedes wouldn’t simply grab it and run the art behind their newest off-roader on Instagram to infer that “Urban” edginess.
Or would they?
“And now they have filed a lawsuit against me trying to strip away all of my rights. I feel like I am being bullied and intimidated,” says graffiti/street artist artist Daniel Bombardier (a/k.a DENIAL) in a statement regarding the luxury brand that is instead suing him along with three other artists, apparently for having the temerity to demand to be paid, according to an article by James David Dickson in The Detroit News .
Bombardier’s mural and the artworks of the other artists – James Lewis (a.k.a. Olayami Dabls), Jeff Soto, and Maxx Gramajo appeared in published advertisements for the company’s cars, apparently without permission. The artists hired a lawyer to contact the carmaker to seek redress, according to news reports, social media postings, and emails that fairly flooded us yesterday.
Banksy x Mercedez: Is This a Parody? Continue reading HERE
Windswept Public Art at the Beach: Hot Tea’s New Installation in Asbury Park
They designed the Ritz, the Vanderbilt, the Ambassador and the Biltmore hotels in Manhattan, along with townhouses for the Astors, the Yacht Club, and apartment buildings on 5th Ave and Park.
They were also architects on the team for Grand Central Terminal, that Beaux-Arts centerpiece of Gotham with its high marble walls, majestic sculptures, and lofty domed ceiling.
Also, Whitney Warren & Charles Wetmore designed the Casino Building here in Asbury Park, New Jersey a celebrated historical magnet for thousands of tourists escaping the heat and seeking buffeting breezes. The soaring glass paned windows may remind you of Grand Central, but also of that illustrated postcard on the cover of the Bruce Springsteen album, and of colorful resort town living.
You’ll also see 5,760 pieces of colored yarn hanging from the beams above, forming a shape-shifting brick of radiating color that appears to levitate. The brand new installation by Street Artist Hot Tea is lifted and pulled and choreographed by the ocean air, dancing to the sounds of waves crashing, emulating the currents of the sea. 17 rows define the physical boundaries, but your imagination can go much further with it in a matter of minutes.
Windswept Public Art at the Beach: Hot Tea’s New Installation at Asbury Park HERE
No spray paint was used here by artist Magda C in this new mural for the day of the International Climate Strike, though the paint does illuminate in the daytime and shine at night, she tells us.
Painted in conjunction with the decade running Urban Forms Foundation here in Łódź, Poland in the Teofilów neighborhood, draws inspiration from the city’s famous textile traditions and the traditional patterns that persevere in public consciousness. The artist says that she is also interested in drawing viewers of this surrealist illustration style graphic to an emerging civic concept called “Conscious Consumption” as pertains to our daily choices in food and, well, everything.
Embedding symbols and icons that refer to recycling, renewable energy sources, reduction of CO2, the mural “relates to the current condition of our planet, as well as its uncertain future,” she says.
Last night we listened to artist Futura speak with Timothy Anne Burnside at the “Beyond the Streets” about his initial impetus for hitting the streets as a teenage graffiti writer in the late 1960s in New York – an urban environment he described aptly as “the city was on fire”.
“I wanted to express myself,” he said. “That’s all anyone wants to do, no matter how they do it.”
As we move further from graffiti and mark-making in public art-making, is it a revelation that the desire to be seen, to have your voice heard, is the common denominator again, regardless of the form of expression.
this case, a tram shelter in Poland preserves the natural world in resin,
a mix master, the artist here samples someone else’s handiwork and remixes it,
adding a filter, chopping it up and repeating it.
Dominika Cebula, a student at the Academy of Fine Arts In Łódź, has created this street work for you to glance at and stare through while waiting for the bus, whatever the weather – rain, snow, morning sun.
She’s calling it “Nostalgia”, and you can see how those minutes of waiting could be affected; your memories triggered to remember birthdays, weddings, funerals, walks by yourself along a train track or beside the river. Hundreds of dried flowers are embedded in the resin, including cornflowers, forget-me-nots, roses, narcissus, freesias, daisies, fern leaves, muscaris, eustomas, alstroemerias, pansies, clover, daffodils, orchids.
Curated by Michał Bieżyński, “Nostalgia” is an unusual horticultural intervention that adds one more point of visual interest in a city that has enjoyed an alluvial visual invasion of murals and sculptural works in the last decade.
Sometimes an enterprising artist creates their own initiative in a city and invites friends to come and paint walls that they secure – a small campaign or informal “festival, if you will.
“I invited 3 artists to the project ‘OD/BLOKOWANIE’,” says the
billboard hi-jacker/adbuster named Lump here in Szczecin, Poland. The lineup
includes the Polish Sepe, the Greek graffiti writer/wheat-paster/painter Dimitris
Taxis, and the Spanish painter/Street Artist Zësar Bahamonte.
With a title like OD/BLOKOWANIE that translates roughly to “unblocking”,
you may imagine that Sepe is opening up a part of the city with his wall.
“I focused on melting the work into colors and forms of surrounding – warm greens and browns similar to the trees around,” says Sepe. “Also I used the walls’s natural plaster to make the work appear light and not so visually oppressive.” He calls the work, “There’s No Sea…”
Remember that red-haired aerobics teacher that used to yell loudly over the thumping disco beat while her head-banded spandex army jumped and kicked in unison in front of a mirror at the community center?
forget to breeeeeeeaaaath, people! Okay? And 2 and 3 and 4. Good!”
You cannot forget to breath if you are gazing down Piotrkowska Street in Łódź on your average Thursday night either. You will see the slowly pulsing acqua neon sign just installed there reminding you to do that normal thing that you may not pay much attention to.
artist duo Supergut Studio (Katarzyna Furgalinska, Lukasz Smolarczyk), have
just completed this new public art piece, “throbbing in line with human’s
breathing, creating an illusion of synchronization between the neon light and
the human organism, ” they say.
Made with old fashioned neon technology instead of the LEDs that are taking over public light fixtures everywhere, this sign is shrouded effectively in the darkness of night despite its proximity to illuminated crossings and traffic. Watching it silently from a distance, it also summons a memory of city life in the past – perhaps your past.
“The idea is to direct the installation’s influence at a single recipient and his individual sense of ‘here and now’,” says the project’s curator Michal Biesynski, who has over the last decade brought a huge number of artists opportunities to paint walls and erect sculpture here in the Polish city.
This new installation in the public sphere may actually be good for citizen’s health, and possibly their peace of mind.
As we draw closer to the new year we’ve asked a very special guest every day to take a moment to reflect on 2017 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for them. It’s an assortment of treats to surprise you with every day – to enjoy and contemplate as we all reflect on the year that has passed and conjure our hopes and wishes for 2018. This is our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and of saying ‘Thank You’ to each of you for inspiring us throughout the year.
Gdańsk-based art professor and Street Artist M-City has been stenciling the inner workings of a real and imagined industrial world onto walls, sea vessels, and an aviation control tower among other surfaces for a decade or so. He uses his work as metaphor for larger messages, if you care to interpret them, and a thinking man like M-City rarely leaves a stone unturned in his observations of human foibles and geopolitics today or in history. Today he tells us about typical scene in cities around the globe where Street Artists and other Creatives bring a moribund place to life, only to have it snatched up by developers and culture vultures when the area matures into something profitable.
A few buildings look like nowhere else.
This one is located in the center of Gdańsk betweeen a shipyard and the old town. The Building has a long story and was built before the second war, becoming known as the biggest “Pumpernickel” bakery.
90% of the city was destroyed during World War II and that’s why in this photo the area is still a bit empty around it. Over 30 artist have spent the last few years creating here; painters, photographers, sculptors, theater people and many more. We did many shows in a gallery here and and in other parts of the building.
These cultural events and the environment we built – everything happened here without any public money, just a bit of private support. My studio is also inside and outside I did a lot of quick murals to comment on public and political life.
Now someone has bought our building and wants to destroy/develop it as soon as possible and to build part of a new town. This place will be gone by the end of the year. It was one of the last independent art places in our region and I don’t think that we will find this kind of place in the future because the City is eating art spots fast and faster every year.
The ultimate public still life sculptor and installation artist, Mark Jenkins has just positioned this woman on a lamp post in Łódź, Poland as part of Michał Bieżyński’s ongoing curation of his city’s public space.
Jenkins continues to refine his true-to-life interactions, with realistic, if troubling and surreal, figures frozen mid-action. He casts his own body and sometimes others’ bodies, using packing tape and plastic wrap, and then dresses them in unremarkable clothing that is conventional to the culture and environment.
This is a kind of human taxidermy, if you will, with bizarre scenarios invoked by the presence of the life-like figure in public space, implicating passersby into the scene before they even realize it.
Here we have six new installations from Jenkins in and around the city center, throwing people off their daily rhythm. They chuckle uncomfortably and point or snap a photo, slightly picking up the pace when walking by.