Here is our weekly interview with the street: this week featuring Faile, Stikman, Elle, Queen Andrea, CRKSHNK, Shiro, Espo, Homesick, DeGrupo, Michael Alan, Dark Clouds, Gats, Manik, Drones, ICU463, El Chalvo Del Ocho, Saxgraf, Smart RIS, Bianca Does New York, Uloang, and Chespirito.
New York is gripped with anxiety and demonstrations because of the Israeli attacks on Gaza that appear to violate International Law. No one is happy, and accusations fly in this most polarizing of international conflicts that threatens to spread – who knows where next. Friday night, a colossal demonstration overtook Grand Central Station and the streets around it by mostly Jews calling for a ceasefire, followed by an equally thunderous one across the Brooklyn Bridge. No one wants to talk about it, yet everyone is talking about it. May cooler heads prevail, and may children be spared our foolish wars.
The morning glories are still beaming blue and pink over fences on abandoned lots here, even as their tumbled vines and leaves turn yellow. The East Village Halloween Parade takes off at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and people are already in costumes on the subway, in the bar, at the pumpkin stand. Street artists have naturally gravitated toward our cultural icons, real and fantasy, and they continue to bring them to walls and doorways and the occasional box truck or subway car. Hearts were warmed this week when a subway rat was caught on video in the tracks dragging a glazed donut a distance to share with his (girl?)friend. You see, even our rats are generous in spirit.
We reflect on Western society’s preoccupation with youth and what a dead end it is, as we spotted a quote this week from British author Donna Ashwork on social media. It makes sense when you look at the Rolling Stones, who played at Racket NYC with special guest Lady Gaga this week. Also we caught the Ed Ruscha show at MOMA this week. These artists are in their 70s and 80s, as are so many of the icons of the Boomer Generation. Somehow, they can be just as compelling as in their heyday sometimes, and its not because of their physical appearance. Anyway, enjoy this poem/quote:
“Don’t prioritise your looks, my friend, they won’t last the journey. Your sense of humour though, will only get better. Your intuition will grow and expand like a majestic cloak of wisdom. Your ability to choose your battles, will be fine-tuned to perfection. Your capacity for stillness, for living in the moment, will blossom. And your desire to live each and every moment will transcend all other wants. Your instinct for knowing what (and who) is worth your time, will grow and flourish like ivy on a castle wall. Don’t prioritise your looks my friend, they will change forevermore, that pursuit is one of much sadness and disappointment. Prioritise the uniqueness that makes you you,
and the invisible magnet that draws in other like-minded souls to dance in your orbit. These are the things which will only get better.“
Here is our weekly interview with the street: this week featuring Queen Andrea, Solus, Degrupo, Jerkface, Mike Makatron, Miki Mu, Home Sick, TomBoyNYC, Dirk Hiekel, Keon IVGN, Robles 147, Mistake Project, and Carlo Beley.
Welcome to BSA Images of the Week! These are our longest days of the year. Savor them, luxuriate in them, celebrate the light. The trees, the grass, the plants, all richly green. The breezes are smooth against your cheek, the sound of kids screaming as they play in the park is like music.
The ebb and flow of humanity washes across the pavement daily here in our gritty city – forlorn, inquisitive, raucous, opinionated, gentle, buoyant, clever, blunt, wonderous, rarely neutral. Our murals are mighty, our styles can be wild, illustrative, fantastic, inertly corporate, romantically impressionist, electric and eclectic. Unlike many downtowns, this collection is organic and unmediated – perfectly imperfect. As inhospitable as this city can feel to a newcomer, remember this; You are welcome. Do your thing.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring: Faile, Joe Iurato, Queen Andrea, Dasic Fernandez, Optimo NYC, CES, Hef, Spot, KMS Crew, Ange, Bekah Bad, Logan Hicks, Hiraku, Agud, Lexi bella, and Jeff Hernandez.
This time of the year, many people become nostalgic, remembering earlier times that seemed simpler, bathed in sepia tones. Walking into the Pop International Gallery a couple of weekends ago – fresh from a Swoon talk with Jeffrey Deitch and on the way to the opening of Graffiti Kings at HOWL – it was a surprise trip to the mid-2000s of New York streets when the graffiti scene was adjusting to a fleet of new street art kids on the block.
Fernando “SKI” Romero was one half of a graphic team called UR New York at the time with co-writer 2Easae, and they were making their own transition from the street to the studio. In the new show at Pop called WON FOR ALL!, Mr. Romero takes us back to see a cluster of youth who were in his orbit, and if you were walking on the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan, probably yours.
“I’ve known these artists for years,” he says, “Many of us came up together in the art world. They are my friends and family.”
Born and raised in New York, Romero is very familiar with the graffiti scene that made the city famous, even recently curating a show of some graffiti-writers-turned-artists who originally inspired him, like CRASH, DAZE and Tats Cru. After attending Parsons School of Design and selling his own stuff on the street in SoHo for six years, he took a decade to dedicate himself to developing his own deconstructed letter style for the gallery.
Now SKI is reflecting on a golden age for his own development as an artist with WON FOR ALL and shows solidarity with a small cluster of talents who have pursued their professional careers that were supercharged by their experiences on the street and around the culture. Here’s Dark Clouds with his patterned and swooping pockets of rain, alongside the graphic output of Matt Siren that hints at superheroes and graphic novels.
Elsewhere the bright font-centric Queen Andrea evokes 1980s teen mag optimism, while Gigi Chen’s formal painting techniques venture into fantasy and photo-realism. In the main window on the Bowery is perhaps the most recognizable top-hatted character, Optimo, another true born and bred New Yorker whose love for the culture is evidenced by a prodigious mass of street stickers incorporated into one of his canvasses. Partnered perhaps in their historical reverence for graffiti writers are SKI, with his sideways blown layers of bright letterforms and gritty graphic cityscapes, and Cerns’ omnivorous forays across realities – anchored by colorful characters that may remind some of the train writers during the 1970s.
“I chose these people because of talent, skills, and dedication,” he says. “During the pandemic, these artists were the ones who kept me sane and motivated during a time when I felt alone. This show is a way to bring them all together to say ‘Thank You”.
WON FOR ALLI FEATURED ARTISTS include Queen Andrea Dark Cloud Gigi Chen Matt Siren Optimo NYC Victor Ving Emilio Martinez Cern Chris Boss
Won For All! is currently on view at Pop International Galleries in Manhattan. Click HERE for further details, schedules, and location.
As the graffiti and street art high season draws to a close, we remark on the stunning array of new faces on the New York scene this year, as well as a large crop of maturing talents from the last decade or so. The length of the cycle for artists working on the street varies some, but we’ve been around enough to see many of the early 2000s stars fade away or move on to other things. The voice of this new generation is as challenging as ever and perhaps more savvy in many ways. Still, it’s good to see the re-appearance this month of folks like Hera in New York – a talent whose global and studio escapades have made her a revered street artist over about two decades.
Our thanks to all the artists of all persuasions and longevity for giving voice and character to our public spaces.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring: Queen Andrea, Praxis,CRKSHNK, Lexi Bella, Danielle Mastrion, Homesick, Hera, Panic, Seo, Insane 51, Habibi, Didi, Keops, OSK, AAA, EXR, RJG Rock, L.O.U.R.S., Nohemi, Hazard One, and Emesa.
Rocking this little neighborhood since 2009, The Welling Court Mural Project in Queens, New York brought a bevy of old skool and new again this summer to add to the collaborative art project that cheers the locals and thrills visitors. By now, you could call it historic, with writers from the OG crowd like Tats Cru, Lady Pink, John Fekner, and Chino giving their best alongside a slew of newbies in the mural art scene. Alison Wallis is the sole director these days, and her roots with the graffiti and street art community go deep, which means a well of trust is involved.
As she scans the list of artists who have given of themselves to this neighborhood for more than a decade in this community project, Wallis writes in the manifesto: “with early career, mid-career, and burgeoning young artists to help foster beauty of all life, peace, and support for all people of any race, belief, and/or sexual identity around the globe.” Once again it is good to see the many ways a community can join together in an evolving and inspiring collective statement that integrates positive social change via the culture of street art.
A community-fueled project in a small town in Upstate New York has the draw of Lady Pink, the well-known 1970s/80s NYC graffiti writer, who lends her art and name, and spearheaded the project.
Today we go outside our fair city for “Roses for Rosendale”, a town-sprucing initiative two hours north of NYC that just bloomed with a number of murals by artists whose names you’ll recognize like Shiro, Queen Andrea, Alice Mizrachi, Muck and others – along with some local talents.
On-the-spot veteran photojournalist Martha Cooper hopped the bus up there to catch the action and she reports that the heroes of the day were the many volunteers who assisted in every way to assure that the artists had what was needed to adorn many walls here.
“The rose murals were painted both on Rosendales’s charming vintage brick and clapboard buildings as well as on the shopfronts of a nearby strip mall,” the renowned graffiti and street art photographer Cooper tells us. “It was a sweet little festival in a non-urban location familiar to a lot of Brooklynites.” It is true that many New Yorkers, especially Brooklynites, escaped to this region in a huge wave along the Hudson River Valley after September 11th, and then again recently many city types ‘discovered’ this storied region after the Covid lockdowns chased them to find greener pastures.
“We have over 16 locations with over 35 volunteers painting,” says Lady Pink on her Instagram posting. “Professional and emerging artists, people who just wanted to help! Locals and artists from as far as Japan came to paint roses and beautify a town. It was a weeklong painting extravaganza that filled hearts with joy.”
The Pandemic is still raging. Sorry. But New York is OK.
Meanwhile, artists are still getting up and we must continue living even if we have to take extra precautions and listen to the science and to those who care.
This year’s Welling Court festival in Queens took place under the same health measures as last year. There wasn’t a big block party. The artists painted at their own pace and time sometimes only one alone at the compound – sometimes two at a time.
For the moment, the big gatherings and week-long shenanigans are gone due to Covid. Here are some selections of this year’s proposals and some from previous years that we missed either due to weather, traveling, or simply because those darn cars are always parked in front of the murals.
You know the shy kid at the party who won’t hit the dance floor even if Jesus himself begged him – and then he hears his jam and suddenly starts doing flips, tricks, and power moves?
That’s what it felt like last week when all the funk-tech-floral-social-abstract-steez planets spun together into a powerful 2021 solar system at the Jersey City Mural Festival. How many times did you hear the word community, as if we’ve all been starved of it?
And the aesthetics were solid – you would not have guessed how sweet some of these combinations could be – with just enough curation to let the sparks crackle in the gritty oil-coated zones that are surrounding the MANA Contemporary compound. This most diverse generation is now freely tossing any rules and hierarchies out the window; these inheritors of the winds now gathering speed.
The first annual Jersey City Mural Festival brought together dozens of street artists, mural artists, graffiti writers, photographers, and art lovers to this new New Jersey. This festival in another year would have been a festive event just like any other festival – formulas have been discovered for how to mount public cultural events like these around the world – and we’ve been to many.
But this time, the energy was extra charged by the undeniable fact that we’re all emerging to a familiar yet changed world formed by fear, death, insecurity, and longing. Artists were elated to see their peers once again doing what they love doing most: painting outdoors. There is a recognition from the artists, and everybody around that life is precious and the scars left on us by the Pandemic made this event a jubilant one.
The collection of artworks presented here are only a fraction of all the works painted during the festival. Half a dozen of murals were still not completed when we departed. We hope to bring you the rest soon.
The festival unfolded over several days of painting and rain and an oppressive heatwave on two locations in Jersey City. Both locations are the remnants of Jersey City as an industrial powerhouse. The complex in Newark Ave, Mana Contemporary, is now an art center with several galleries, exhibition spaces, and artists’ studios. The complex on Coles Street still conserves its industrial grit. Still, a storage company has replaced the factories, and empty buildings in the decay process appear ready to be demolished.
The Jersey City Mural Festival was presented by Mana Public Arts and the Jersey City Mural Arts Program with the imprimatur of Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop, the city’s Municipal Council, and the Office of Municipal Affairs.
Jose Mertz talks about his mural.
We would like to thank the organizers and production team for all their assistance during the duration of the festival and to Mario at Tost Films for helping man the lift for our final photo session.
Aside from a few breaks for afternoon June monsoons and scattered flash flooding on the greasy streets of this historically industrial region, the frantic and focused paintings by artists were setting Jersey City afire with color and character yesterday. By climbing on rooftops and flying on cherry pickers with a slew of aerosol pilots, our photographer Jaime Rojo got some of the best action in this inaugural mural festival.
The MANA Contemporary complex is comprised of an array of buildings – and many are visible from many passing highways and byways. As the melange of cultures here continues to come out to the streets due to lower Covid numbers and higher vaccine rates, the air is thick with expectation. Having a slew of new artworks from across a spectrum of styles and aesthetic sensibility – you will find much the new additions are directly adjacent to the illegal graffiti that started it all – which is as it should be.
Check out some of the new works here by Beau Stanton, Dasic Fernandez, Elle, Eric Karbeling, Erinkco Studios, Jahru, Max Sansing, MSG, Queen Andrea, Raul Santos, and Ron English.
To learn more about the Jersey City Mural Festival click HERE
Our weekly focus on the moving image and art in the streets. And other oddities.
Now screening: 1. Homily to Country by Artist JR 2. Jersey City Artists at Work Painting for the first Mural Festival Here
BSA Special Feature: Homily to Country by Artist JR
“We must throw off the chains of corporatization to save us all,” is the last statement in this narrative about historical, cultural and natural resources being stolen. His statement could have started with that.
Maybe JR will make a project about fairly taxing the rich next.
Jersey City Artists at Work Painting for the first Mural Festival Here
Two homemade videos below of a handful of the participating artists at work in their murals this week for the inaugural edition of the Jersey City Mural Festival.
See the action with Dragon76, José Mertz, L’Amour Supreme, Boy Kong, and Kirza Lopez in action at Mana Contemporary Complex.
Elle, Queen Andrea and Beau Stanton at the Ice Factory Complex
Welcome to BSA Images of the Week. 新年快乐! Happy Lunar New Year! It’s the Year of the Ox, and there was a lot of celebration during this snowy week in New York, although it appeared to be subdued by the standards of pre-Covid times definitely.
Also, Happy Valentines Day to you! We love you more every day! Don’t change a thing; you’re perfect the way you are.
Finally, the 2nd Impeachment of Donald Trump took place this week and it was on every television, radio, laptop, and phone screen it seems.
“Anyone who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” is the quote attributed to Voltaire that the Democrat from Maryland Jamie Raskin spoke this week at the 2nd Impeachment trial of the former president in the Senate. It ranks as one of the more memorable.
It would be a stretch to call it a trial when many who voted in this verdict were also witnesses, victims, judges, jury, and/or co-conspirators of the accused. Still, it appears to be the only available way to hold a president accountable for their actions in the U.S.
We would say that it was a good show, but it was not a good show…
Finally, he has been acquitted by a vote of 57 to 43 in the Senate. A two-thirds majority was needed. One outcome is he can run for office again if he wishes. No matter the result of these events, it was inevitable that there would be a pervasive feeling of unrest.
One question remains: Was the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol the end of an era or the beginning?
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring 7 Line Arts Studio, Al Diaz, Awol Erizcu, BK Foxx, Clown Soldier, Fire Flower, Goog, Pear, Queen Andrea, Riley Gale, SAMO, and Seung Jin.