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.
Many people in New York and around the world breathed a collective sigh of relief this week when our native son from Queens got on that helicopter with his immigrant wife and A. left the White House and, B. flew to Florida.
But for this week anyway, the streets are saying let’s give Biden and Harris and this new administration the congratulations and the honeymoon they deserve. We wish them (and us) the best!
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Anna is a toy, Bastard Bot, CRKSHNK, Elfo, Jason Naylor, Lunge Box, Praxis VGZ, and Queen Andrea.
It’s an annual event in Street Art and mural programs in New York for the last decade, The Welling Court Festival – now poised to be a victim of its own success. The original concept by a couple who ran Ad Hoc gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, the neighborhood was full of working class and economically struggling families in a part of the city that had fallen into the margins. Suddenly it was full of color and imagination thanks to Garrison and Alison Buxton and their eclectic and widely dispersed cadre of local and international graffiti and Street Artists who spent one weekend out of the summer smashing walls side by side with community members in a cacophonous untamed way.
This year was no different, with families and children getting into the action, and relationships renewed between artists and admirers on a gorgeous New York summer weekend in June. But what is also evident is the invasion of developers and higher-rent homes and businesses being built. You’ve seen this movie before, and you know how it ends. Owners cash in, renters are priced out, and these walls will be commercial shortly – used to sell shampoo.
The connection between murals and gentrification? That debate continues, but for some, it’s a settled causational relationship. The question about what to do about it, if anything, is unsettled – and unsettling.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street (or boardwalk), this time featuring Caleb Neelon, Cey Adams, Depoe, Rene Gagnon, JCorp, Kimyon333, NYC Hooker, Peat Wolleager, Pinky Weber, Sara Erenthal, Caryn Cast, Joe Iurato, John Fekner, Never, Praxis, Queen Andrea, Hellbent, Bella Pharma, Color Eyes, and Hiss.
Its an exciting time for art in the public sphere right now in NYC as Roger Gastman and his huge team are seriously preparing 100,000 sf of space in Williamsburg to completely blow away graffiti and Street Art fans alike this week with Beyond The Streets. Meanwhile the city is pumping full of at least 50 sanctioned and unsanctioned World Pride murals, Garrison Buxton pulled off the 9th Welling Court grassroots mural festival in Queens, Joe Ficalora brought Rick Ross and a host of Street Artists to Bushwick for a block party, MadC was in town hanging with Crash, Joe Caslin and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh were putting up new pieces with L.I.S.A. Project yesterday, Queen Andrea finished her commercial Houston Wall gig, and a lot of ad hoc illegal and legal graffiti and Street Art is in full effect in all five boroughs. When it comes to art in the streets, New York says ‘Bring it!’
yeliner, Jason Naylor, John Ahearn, JPO, MadC, MeresOne, Misshab, Outer Source, Queen Andrea, Ramiro Davaro-Comas, SacSix, Sonni, Tonk Hawaii and The Drif.
“Anxiety is normal in an unjust society” says the new piece by Disordered in Welling Court, Queens, a working class neighborhood of New York where the latest Ad Hoc mural party was held a couple of weekends ago under the direction of Garrison Buxton. He started this festival with his former partner Alison Buxton nine years ago to create community here with a number of artists from across the graffiti/Street Art spectrum, and it has always been a great day to see families and kids interacting with artists on the street.
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.
Some companies adore this dynamic exactly the way it is because when you are always feeling anxiety about losing your job and worried about paying the bills you won’t speak up to notify anyone when your boss is dumping poison in the river or placing his hand upon your seat. Imagine working so hard and getting paid so little that you are still relying on public assistance, as Walmart is known for now. Anxiety is normal for many today, and it is reflected in the art on the streets as well.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Cern, Caleb Neelon, Col Wallnuts, Damien Mitchell, Daze, Disordered, FKDL, Hellbent, JCBK, Joe Iurato, John Fekner, Lena McCarthy, LMNOPI, Maria Wore, Michel Velt, Never, NYC Hooker, Praxis, Queen Andrea, Robots Will Kill, Rubin415, Seeone, and Toofly.