What the hell just happened? Has it been a year? Or has it been 10 years? Or just one long nightmare/daymare? Or has it been 10 years? Did we already ask that?
In March 2020 we awoke to a world that was transforming before all of our eyes, yet we felt so cut-off from it and each other. The first days seem so long ago as we mark the first anniversary of the pandemic. Still, the initial shock of those days resonates in our chests so strongly that we confidently talk about a collective global trauma that has indelibly marked a generation.
From Stockholm to Mexico City to Barcelona to Bethlehem to New York to LA, BSA brought you street art that was responding with fear, derision, critique, hope, and humor to the never-static, always evolving barrage of Covid news. Stuck inside and afraid to expose ourselves to each other, we New Yorkers became accustomed to experiencing the outdoors only through our windows, connecting with neighbors we’ve never met who were also banging pots and pans or clapping and waving and yelling.
We listened to ambulances screaming past our windows every half hour or so during those first weeks, imagining the torn families, the terrified fellow New Yorkers now being rushed to the hospital and separated from their loved ones without a goodbye, gasping for air. We wondered if we would be next.
When we did go to the streets, they were empty – or nearly. In New York this was unheard of. In this bustling, noisy metropolis, we experienced a daily disconcerting quiet. That is, until the killing of George Floyd by cops finally pushed the anger/anxiety into the streets all summer.
The deadly hotspot of New York quelled, but the fires of Covid spread west, grabbing communities who thought they would avoid impact. At the same time, local, state, and national leaders fumbled and argued or famously callously ignored the desperation of citizens, occasionally admirably filling the shoes they were elected to occupy, often misstepping through no fault of their own.
We have no particular wisdom to offer you today beyond the obvious; this pandemic laid bare inequity, social and racial and class fault-lines, the shredded social net, the effect of institutional negligence, the ravages of 40 years of corporate privatization, and the power of community rising to the occasion to be in service to one another in ways that made us all more than proud.
Here are some of our favorite Covid-themed street art pieces from over the last year, a mere sampling of the artistic responses. Interspersed we paste screenshots of the daily events (via Wikipedia) in 2020 that shaped our lives, and our society.
We mourn the losses of family and friends and the broken hearts and minds in all of our communities. And we still believe in the power of art to heal and the power of love to balance our asymmetries.
As NYC went on complete lock-down and New Yorkers were ordered to remain in their homes in complete isolation the city’s residents organically joined together in a collective 7:00 pm ritual in support to the first responders. To the nurses, doctors, paramedics, trash collectors, public transportation, police, fire fighters, supermarkets workers etc…with their services and sacrifices we, the residents of this megalopolis were able to keep out hopes for brighter days to come.
Video of four former presidents urging people to “roll up your sleeve and do your part” and get the vaccine.
You could be forgiven for feeling a little like a Grinch for a part of this Christmas; a global virus and a completely fumbled response to the economic well-being of all Americans has left many without home, food, jobs, healthcare, security on this day in 2020.
But let’s rejoice that we persevered, and we found some reasons to be positive, to be hopeful, and to work together. New York is unbeatable! God Bless NYC!
And we are thankful for you. From your friends at BSA we wish you a very Merry Christmas.
Happy Diwali to all our Hindu neighbors here in Brooklyn and around the world. We hope you find some ways to celebrate safely over the next few days in this year of COVID-19. Diwali is a festival of lights that symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”. We need that for sure.
A week after the US election was called, the current president is trying to foment discord and raise funds for himself, but with war-loving folks like John Bolton and Carl Rove jumping ship, can it be much longer until a stampede of similar careerists and military industrialists follow suit?
And while certain yellow newsreaders on corporate TV were desperate for open warfare in the streets in the days around the election, most people are just waiting until the inevitable capitulation. This has hardly been a bloody revolution, but keep trying Rachel and whatsisname?
Street art is reflecting the current mood in broad strokes and pointed ones. New Yorkers can never keep their big yaps shut, so the level of discourse may sometimes be crude and brash – but it can also be insightful, enlightening, and even an invitation for thoughtful exchange. It’s times like these you can be proud of the voices on the streets, which very likely will persevere.
Here is our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Baston714, Cake$, City Kitty, Dan Bennett, De Grupo, Faile, I Heart Graffiti, Lunge Box, Pure Genius, Reisha Perlmutter, Rubin 415, and Sac Six.
And this stuff didn’t just start in 2017. Regardless which millionaire is in or has been in the White House or which millionaires are in the presidents cabinet or which millionaire is telling you what the news is on CNBCFOXMSABCBS, your neighbors’ collective standard of living has been going down for decades and even life expectancy is going backward.
Identity politics will not put food in the cupboard or give you healthcare.
We badly need reconciliation with each other. If we keep fighting each other we are more easily divided, and conquered. And the next demagogue will be far more competent. Now with a new president-elect, America has a lot of work as we head into the Greater Depression.
When it comes to street art New York’s streets always tell us what time it is.
Here is our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Baston714, BKFoxx, Buff Monster, Consume Art, Dylan Egon, Go Paint the World, Indecline, NNR, Peachee Blue, Pure Genius, Matt Siren, Tony DePew, and Timothy Goodman.
Of course street art is ready to rock Halloween, as some of the most clever, frightening, sarcastic, ghoulish, and hilarious thematic depictions are found on our streets in the days leading up to All Hallows Eve. Truthfully these are such scary times across the board in the US that it is feeling like we’re having Halloween weekly. The monsters walk among us!
We hope you have a spooky good time, you stay safe and don’t forget BSA loves you.
A brand new release just in time for Halloween from Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip
They are not staying quiet. If you had doubted the inclination of street artists to join the socio-political fray in 2020, don’t. Among the cute and decorative pieces out there, we are steadily discovering that artists are using the public sphere to take risks, addressing issues that are thorny and puzzling. As ever, the streets are a reflection of our society and all its fabulous dysfunction – a refreshing take on free speech that often makes much more sense than the disinformation war raging hourly right now on corporate media.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Adam Fu, Blood and Soul, Clint Mario, Faust, Gazoo to the Moon, Jarus, Maia Lorian, Pure Genius, Raddington Falls, Sticker Maul, Stikman, TV Head ATX, Will Pay, and Winston Tseng.
As New York enters its first full day of Pause, or lock-down, the social ramifications of the panicked psyche have all been rivetingly on display.
Todays’ Street Art piece by Pure Genius lampoons the behaviors of people actually fighting one another to greedily horde supplies. The drawback with toilet paper is, it is not food, which may become a much larger topic of interest shortly.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring 1Up Crew, Blanca Romero, Captain Eyeliner, Flash, Frank Ape, M Quan, Makh21, Neon Savage, Neckface, Praxis, Pure Genius, RAW, Shiny, The Brujo, Theo, Yiannis Bellis.
In Street Art and graffiti news, New York has had some “whole car” pieces on the subway line recently, including one that looked like a whole train! Old timers were rubbing their eyes. According to a local media outlet, legendary graffiti artist Chris “Freedom” Pape gave his assessment; “..based on the artist’s philosophy, he gives it an “A” but based on the quality of the graffiti on old subways, he gives it a “C”. Also a new film about New York octogenarian Street Artist Robert Janz opened this week at the Anthology Film Archives. Janz in the Moment is the passion project of Filmmaker Joanna Kiernan that features many corners and crazy details of New York’s streets that are familiar to us – and probably to you.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week from Miami, and this time featuring Add Fuel, Atomik, Bisco Smith, CRKSHNK, Dal East, Feik, Hysterical Men, Jilly Ballistic, Kai, Mr. June, Pure Genius, Rick Azevedo, WCKT, What Will You Leave Behind, Will Power, and Winston Tseng.
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.