We like findings spots that feature walls slammed with street art in a most organic way, the aesthetic signature of a current ecosystem mid-evolution. These spots are often a magnet for street artists to get up in NYC, L.A., Berlin, Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, Barcelona, Mexico City, Miami, Boston, London, and beyond. Usually illegal, they allow the artists a quick way to safely leave their imprint on the chaos of the city, a welcome to international artists on their spraycation as well as locals who relish the feeling of standing among peers. The art is usually limited to small original pieces, stickers, and posters, wheat pastes.
We call them “magnet walls” – and NYC has had its share of them. Now, however, they are increasingly endangered because of Gentrification and the voracious real estate market in the city with its apparent never-ending appetite for building new soaring soul-free glass towers. One spot is still welcoming artists to its walls: Freeman Alley. This favorite enclave, composed of two long walls along a narrow corridor in the Lower East Side, is constantly updated in an organic way with contributions by local and international artists. We have surveyed it for years, often publishing our findings in the popular “BSA Images Of The Week.”
Last week we rolled by the alley again and to our surprise, we discovered a gate ajar; one that leads the lobby of a relatively new hotel. Usually locked with a code, this secret Bowery spot instructs guests to enter through the alley. Once inside, they’re greeted with a nicely landscaped, small-scale courtyard leading to a lobby. Surprisingly, it is now bursting with new stickers, posters, stencils, paintings, collages, wild imaginings. Technically, this is a legal magnet wall – but most of the artists whose work is on display here can also be found illegally on the walls of the alley. Here’s a fresh selection just for you:
Welcome to BSA Images of the Week! Today is PRIDE DAY in NYC and Father’s Day in many parts of the world. Congratulations to us all, queer and/or fathers. We’re happy to show you what we’ve been finding as the spring now stretches into Officially Summer. At night in some neighborhoods, you’ll hear a smattering of fireworks as youthful hooligans are already lighting them – anticipate the 4th of July holiday. A sign of our crazy summer ahead; behold the bang-pop-ratatat-tat-bang-bang-swizzle-shizzle-pop now erupting regularly in empty lots and dead-end streets.
It’s great to see so many kids and youth and adults on bicycles now that the City has made myriad networks of safe pathways throughout the five boroughs. If we could get the police to hand out tickets to car drivers, even school bus drivers, sometimes using the bike lanes to circumvent others and put riders in danger.
The street art and graffiti scene are thick, and you don’t want to miss it here this time of year. While some complain that “vandalism” is reaching 1970s levels, many are happy to see a rotating display of artworks on the city skin at a time when so much of our local cultural and entertainment options have been killed or neutered. The institutional and commercial arts will all come back to New York, we have no doubt. Often, the renaissance begins in the streets.
Aliens, robots, skulls, femme Fatales, cats, cartoons, nationalism, existentialism – the new are runs the gamut and if it upsets the audience, it doesn’t run for long. Catch it while you can
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Acne, Adam Fujita, Almost Over Keep Smiling, Captain Eyeliner, City Kitty, Degrupo, Demure, Eugene Delacroix, Jeremy Novy, Lunge Box, Matt Siren, Modomatic, One Rad Latina, Plannedalism, Raddington Falls, Royce Bannon, Russian Doll NYC, SacSix, Sara Lynne-Leo, Save Art Space, Sticker Maul, The Creator, and Vy.
This week we received a note from a friend in the graff/street art community urging us to encourage street and graffiti artists to create artwork on the streets that beseeches GenZ to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
They needn’t worry.
Graffiti and street artists have continued to respond to the COVID mask and vaccine issues as much as they did with the rejection of Trump and everything that came with him. During the last few years, they also have strongly responded to the BLM movement, to the topic of police brutality, to structural inequality in our economy, to last fall’s election, to indigenous people’s rights, to Asian hate, LGBTQ rights, to drug use, to anxiety, to depression, to love, to hope, to our effect on the Earth’s environment, and many social/political issues. Not always high-minded, Street artists also like pop culture icons, cute animals, and emulating successful artists who came before them and whom they admire.
It’s all part of the gig.
When we hit the streets in the pursuit of arts, we never know what we’ll find and where we’ll find it. This week we were surprised by a certain uptick in the number of sculptures on the streets. The artists used different materials, from ceramic to resin, metal, cement, and techniques associated with papier-mâché. The sculptures were mostly affixed to traffic signposts but sometimes were placed on street construction barriers. We are always happy to see sculptures on the streets as they bring back the days when sanctioned murals were definitely not the norm, and illegal street art ruled the streets in myriad small formats.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring: A Cool 55, AJ Maldo, Billy Barnacles, Chris Protas, City Kitty, CRKSHNK, JJ Veronis, Mataruda, Miyok Madness, Mint & Serf, Mort Art, Mr. Triple Double, Patrick Picou Harrington, Phetus, Raddington Falls, Sibot, Spy33, Turtle Caps, Winston Tseng.
“I left all my memories in Syria, so there’s nothing left to take”.
“Husband works in construction. Husband salary depends on luck, waits on side of the street to get picked”.
“Prefer by land, but by sea if there’s no choice”.
“I have no dreams in Europe. I just want my husband to get a proper job, a proper life for my children”.
“I will bring nothing with me”.
“For sure, I’m nervous”.
And so these are their stories, their troubles, their worries. People who are compelled to migrate from their lands in search of a better life and brighter conditions have little choice or no choices at all. They are among the most vulnerable of humans walking on earth. Their plight gets made even worse by the cruelty and greed of their fellow humans, by the indifference of governments, which many times use them as political pawns and by nature. Harsh conditions at sea or at inhospitable land crossings may fatally end their journey.
The irony of this drawing of an immigrant mother with her son carefully placed next to an “alien” cartoon is not lost on us. By labeling the immigrants who come to this country as “aliens” the authorities deem to strip them of their dignity, their character and make them into something strange, different, void of consideration and worth. By being called “aliens” these humans are being lumped together into a cultureless subgroup with no defining characteristics on their own. The label allows the immigration department to treat them all as law-breakers, offenders of the norm.
The current “crisis” at the southern border comes as a surprise every year during this time of the year. Due to better climate conditions on the southern border immigrants from Central American countries take on a journey fraught with danger first through Mexico where they fell prey to criminal gangs, violent cartel groups, and human trafficking networks. If they are lucky to make it all the way to the border with the USA, their problems are often amplified by hypocritical, posturing, and cynical politicians hoping to get a sound bite on Fox News so they can use it in the next fundraising letter.
Yes, human migration is a crisis. It is a global crisis with roots in wars, ethnic cleansing, natural disasters, and, corrupt and authoritarian governments all over the world who steal from the treasury and pretend to care and lead but have little to no intention to seriously invest in infrastructure, education, real security and health programs to keep their citizens from leaving their homes, their families, and their roots.
The collusion of law enforcement with drug cartels and criminal gangs creates all war conditions for anybody to live and prosper. Children and young adults are forced to hide and quit their education as the simple routine of walking to school and back home becomes an act of hide and seek, run and stop just to evade getting caught in a cross fire or just simply getting caught and never seen again.
President Biden succinctly and without hesitation put the matter to rest when the somnolent and apathetic members of the White House press pretended to ask hard questions at his first press conference. “They don’t come here because I’m a nice guy,” he told them, and suggested that rather than pouring billions of dollars in erecting measures to combat immigration at home the funds should go directly to the suffering people of Central America to improve their living conditions so they remain at home rather than embark on a dangerous journey that most certainly will turn into hell.
But this solution might not be good enough for those who are looking for culture wars to score points and for the press who need identity politics to keep the ratings up.
Welcome to BSA Images of the Week as we head into Passover and Easter. If street art reflects society, and we know that it does, Governor Cuomo is in hot water and may not keep his job. But then, we thought the same about the war criminal George Bush and the grifter Trump, so never mind.
Thank you to reporter Jim O’Grady for interviewing us for a story on WNYC radio this week – along with our colleague Sean Corcoran who is the Curator of Prints and Photographs and a graffiti historian from the Museum of the City of New York.
“As Covid Ravaged New York, Street Artists Fought Back” is the name of Jim’s eight-minute exposition – and his storytelling adds so much to our appreciation of the city and the environment that gives life to our street art and graffiti scene here. Thanks for including us Jim.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring: Chris RWK, CRKSHNK, Dwei, Hope Hummingbird, I Heart Graffiti, Little Ricky, Peachee Blue, Raddington Falls, Rambo, SacSix, Sara Lynne-Leo, Sticker Maul, and Technodrome.
We’ve seen an uptick of messages on the streets aimed at Governor Cuomo
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.
Street art in the last five years has been lit on fire with politically themed illustrations, installations, slogans, opinions, and insights that implore passersby to take action and to be engaged in the direction that society is leading.
The once-consolidated TV-print media system has had many challengers in social media and websites, though those now too are being censored, demonetized, and throttled by the corporations and certain state actors who have infiltrated and hampered the free-flow of opinions and political discourse under various “honorable” guises.
Because major political machines and the corporate media don’t typically use the streets as a communication platform in US cities, aside from the occasional poster campaign for a candidate, the rather unfiltered collection of views and voices come through.
The inheritor of the historically revered “soapbox”, a physical and metaphorical location in a public square where people put forward their opinions, beliefs, philosophies, and ideologies in an impassioned voice, street art currently thrills, perplexes, informs, and annoys. It reaches the tech-savvy and the greater majority of our neighbors who are not on social media.
Given that these opinions could be easily buffed or blighted by any passerby yet are permitted to stay, there is an argument that art on the street is the present Vox Populi, a truer representation of the voice of the people.
In the city that knew him first, Donald Trump is given special scrutiny and particular invective for his actions, inactions, behaviors in the role he has occupied as president of the country since 2016. His official opponent in the race is a career politician, an historically right-wing version of a left-wing party, is somehow positioned as a better alternative for an electorate who is desperate for something, anything better than what they have.
By night’s end (or week end, or year end) we will know who is the winner of today’s election; Trump or Anti-Trump. No matter who prevails, street art will undoubtedly weigh in with its opinion.
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.
An unusual worldwide quarantine requires unusual solutions. Because the virus is preventing us all from going to a gallery show at the moment, it’s been fun to see artists, museums, galleries, gallerists and organizers devise new ways for us to interact with each other and art. One you can participate in Sunday is called “What’s In the Box?”.
You might also call it “Who’s On the Box.” Seriously, Duster? Al Diaz? Terrible TKID170? Zimad? That would make you sit up and pay attention.
Organized by Adam Levine (@3Alxnyc) this is a project whose central conceit is a secret – and you have to get inside a virtual space to find it out. In addition the works are all completed on a box which may contain an object of “precious metals and jewels”. We’re curious!
“I’ve assembled close to 30 artists – some old school legends, some NYC staples, West coast players and some fresh faces,” he tells us. “They have all come together and each artist created one unique and original design on a custom wooden box sent to them to decorate that will house something very special.”
“When I say ‘special’ I’m not kidding. This is something that you guys or anybody else on the planet for that matter has never ever seen before.” Those are big promises. Hell, you’re just stuck on this couch for the next forever, so text PIPEBOX to 31996 to get on the VIP list.
Show starts Sunday at 4:20pm in New York, so that’s 21:20 in London and 22:20 in Paris Sunday night. Have fun and support many artists whose work you know from serious well regarded old school writers to Street Art new kids on the scene.
Participants include Al Diaz, A Lucky Rabbit, AJ Lavilla, AngelOnce, Baston, Belowkey, Captain Eyeliner, City Kitty, Dirt Cobain, Duster ua, EASY, Free Humanity, GoopMassta, Stephanie Grajales, Jeff Henriquez, Nite Owl, Sara O’Connor, The Postman, Raddington Falls, Reggie Warlock, Renda Writer, Sacsix, Vincent Scala, Savior Elmundo, Terrible TKID170, TRAP.if, Turtlecaps, Uncutt, Zero Productivity, Zimad.
What’s in the Box? Tune in to the live stream Sunday, 4.19.20 at 4:20 P.M. EST. The only way in, is to text the word:“PIPEBOX” to 31996 to get on the V.I.P. launch list and receive the live link. Video production by Silvertuna Studios
Dog days of summer
be damned, the Street Art in all of its fabulous illegal varieties, the true Vox
Populi (and self-advertisment) persists and insists through the streets this
On the topic of illegal, we’ll state it again for the many persons who have an incorrect impression – Street Art, by definition, is illegal. If it is not illegal, please do not call it Street Art. That work you are looking at is probably a mural. Unfortunately we’ve seen some recent flagrant misuses of the term by some folks who probably should know better.
Good to see “Hysterical Men” here in New York, after
admiring the campaign from Philly. The artwork reminds us of Robbie Conal as
well, who is reliably skewering public officials with his wilting depictions of
them on posters on the street. This week we also were reminded of Chicago’s Dont
Fret when we saw the work of Matt Starr, with his textual witticisms. Don’t get
us wrong, its not a criticism to have similar work – it’s just an observation.
Finally, considering the treatment of immigrants, the mounting
fascism, racism, misogyny, and rageful ignorance being modelled and engendered
from the highest offices in the land, we’re shocked that, with a few notable
exceptions, Street Artists are not taking those messages to the streets. So
much for its reputation for being activist. Not so much.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring Benjamin’s Brother, Bones, Cammix Vx, Captain Eyeliner, Diva Dolga, Domingo Zapata, Dr. Nothing, Hysterical Men, Invisible Essence, Little Ricky, Matt Siren, Matt Starr, Mattew Wythe, Mr. Djoul, Obey, Praxis, Raddington Falls, Rammellzee, Sara Lynne Leo, Sinclair, Sunflower Soulz, The Postman Art, and You Go Girl!
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring AJ LaVilla, Boy Kong, BunnyM, ColpOne, Cycle, Haculla, Jappy Lemon, JR, Lungebox, Raddington Falls, RX Skulls, SacSix, SAMO, Sheryo, The Yok and Winstont Seng.
“…but no one was interested in the facts. They preferred the invention because this invention expressed and corroborated their hates and fears so perfectly.” ~ James Baldwin, from Notes of a Native Son.