All posts tagged: Roa

ROA Paints a Memorial Tribute in BK : “Pet Bird RIP”

ROA Paints a Memorial Tribute in BK : “Pet Bird RIP”

“I could paint a regular parakeet – something pretty – but that’s not me and anyway Peter would f*cking like this!” says Belgian Street Artist ROA as he talks about his newest gift from the natural world to Brooklyn. A tribute to his friend who lived not far from this spot and who hit the streets with his “Pet Bird” stickers, this new large wall near a subway entrance reminds us of the sudden discoveries we come in contact with when our eyes are open.

ROA for Bed Stuy Art Residency. Brooklyn, NY August 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This is a city that is in constant movement, undergoing evolutions and revolutions we can’t control and others that we can. As is the nature of Street Art, the entire city can have this temporary, ethereal quality of a moment captured. Coming two years since his friends passing, this important work reverberates through the chests and heads of a community of friends, some as close as family, who appreciate it as a gift of kindness.

The lady who stops by? Not so much. “I don’t really want to see a dead bird on the building,” she says with a long face as she slouches away with shoulders rounded forward in a perpetual state of doom.

ROA for Bed Stuy Art Residency. Brooklyn, NY August 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

It just so happens that the world-traveling ROA is in New York again as part of a new artist residency in the Brooklyn neighborhood that gives it its name – Bed Stuy Artist Residency. While he’s slept on couches and spare rooms and on floors in previous visits over the last decade when here to paint walls or prepare for shows at Factory Fresh and Jonathan Levine Gallery, this quiet brownstone apartment provides a bedroom, kitchenette and a separate studio space with plenty of light, an old decorative fireplace mantel and a small rusty chandelier with tiny skeletons dangling from it.

It’s an unassuming and welcoming environment for an eclectic array of artists who so far have included folks like Judith Supine, Yarrow Slaps, SS Powell, and Lucien Shapiro. Upcoming artists confirmed include SWAMPY, Amanda Marie, Monica Canilao, and Revok.

ROA for Bed Stuy Art Residency. Brooklyn, NY August 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Established last year by two down-to-earth and ardent Street Art fans, Kathy Kupka and Erwin Bakx, word has spread quickly about this opportunity and they have already completed the planned calendar for all of next year. A warm and spare environment to contemplate some new ideas without the stresses that this city brings to artists, ROA has been planning here for his next big show in 6 weeks – and of course making new work in studio and on walls. The vibe is relaxed and open, yet artists are expected to create new work as well, which ROA compulsively does anyway.

 

We asked Ms. Kupka about the new residency and how it has been with one of Street Art’s best known and regarded urban naturalists.

BSA: How has the experience with ROA been? How long has he been with you?
Kathy Kupka: Its been big fun hanging out w ROA. A lot of beer drinking, rolling smokes, talking & doing art and finding the perfect croissant.

ROA for Bed Stuy Art Residency. Brooklyn, NY August 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: Did you have the opportunity to see his creative process in studio? What aspect of his work or process did you find interesting?
Kathy Kupka: We were so lucky to have seen ROA work! He is a thinker and wise way beyond his years…  he definitely makes it all look effortless and easy but in watching him work it is clear how amazingly talented he is.

BSA: Is it a challenge to find walls for an artist to paint in New York? The availability of walls to paint seems to vary quite a lot from city to city.
Kathy Kupka: We were lucky that Judith Supine knows everyone and everything and through him we got ROA a fabulous wall on Metropolitan and Lorimer. Thanks to Dr. Phil, for his great love of art and excellent idea of curating his doctors office wall! Dr. Phil not only has excellent taste but is an excellent doctor. You should hit him up if you’re sick!

A Pet Bird sticker from the early 2010s (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: We saw a number of people stopping by to comment on the work or ask questions while ROA was painting. Do you enjoy interacting with passersby?
Kathy Kupka: Oh yeah!  Especially if one of your favorite artists just happens by and you get to meet her – like Maya Hayuk!  It is really nice to see people interested in the wall and being inquisitive but so sad that many were unaware of all that was happening around them because they were so wrapped up in their cell phones.  I mean a 20 foot long bird didn’t even register!

ROA for Bed Stuy Art Residency. Brooklyn, NY August 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

BSA: This new residency has been a learning experience for the first few months. Why do you think it is important to offer artists opportunities like this?
Kathy Kupka: Because who doesn’t want to come to Brooklyn?  There are so many amazing artists who don’t have a connection here in NYC and NYC is, let’s be honest, a place you have to see, a place you have to experience as an artist – and we can make that happen! For us it is an honor to be part of their growth, their NYC experience. We also are super happy to provide a homey space in a beautiful brownstone allowing them a place to stop, work their asses off or just be without worry or stress.

ROA for Bed Stuy Art Residency. Brooklyn, NY August 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA for Bed Stuy Art Residency. Brooklyn, NY August 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA for Bed Stuy Art Residency. Brooklyn, NY August 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA for Bed Stuy Art Residency. Brooklyn, NY August 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA for Bed Stuy Art Residency. Brooklyn, NY August 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA for Bed Stuy Art Residency. Brooklyn, NY August 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA for Bed Stuy Art Residency. Brooklyn, NY August 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA with Kathy and Erwin founders of Bed Stuy Art Residency. Brooklyn, NY August 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Kathy Kupka and Erwin Bakx shown above with ROA in the middle are the co-founders of the Bed Stuy Art Residency. Please follow them on IG @bedstuyartresidency


Peter Carroll AKA Pet Bird ( 7/1/77 — 9/28/15 )

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BSA Images Of The Week: 08.27.17

BSA Images Of The Week: 08.27.17

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Welcome to Sunday and the last free weekend of summer in New York before Labor Day. We had a fun tour yesterday with the two winners of the Magic City – Munich competition who won the opportunity to see the streets through our half cracked and mostly sunny perspective. The foot tour with Munich-based students David and Nesli zig-zagged through the Lower East Side and Little Italy before we ended with a fresh summer aerosoled view of ROA painting a brand new mural live in Brooklyn. Here as a visiting artist at a new residency in Bed Stuy, we had seen him earlier in the week in studio preparing new works of natures creature – a few shots here for you to enjoy.

Earlier in the week Shepard Fairey was here to create a new mural celebrating musician Debbie Harry and her band Blondie directly across the street from the former site of CBGB, The Village Voice announced it would not be a print paper after 60 years of culture and politics pumping from its downtown offices, and Brooklyn proudly hosts the Afropunk Festival – full of music, ‘tude, and dope street fashion by some of our BK’s finest style denizens. Already in Paris and London, next stops for Afropunk are Atlanta and Joburg. Hot!

Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Daze, Dr. Scott, drsc0, Hank Williams Thomas, Invader, Shepard Fairey, Jason Naylor, Rx Skulls, ROA, Rober Janz, and Voxx.

Top image: Shepard Fairey for The L.I.S.A. Project NYC and a bit of nostalgia with Blondie. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Invader. Yo he’s got the key…let him in! (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. Studio visit at the Bed Stuy Art Residence. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. Studio visit at the Bed Stuy Art Residence. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. Studio visit at the Bed Stuy Art Residence. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

ROA. Studio visit at the Bed Stuy Art Residence. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Jason Naylor (photo © Jaime Rojo)

VOXX (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Dr. Scott/drsc0 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Rx Skulls (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Robert Jenz (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Robert Jenz (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Daze (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Unidentified Artist (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Hank Williams Thomas / For Freedoms. Phone booth ad takeover for Art In Ad Places Project. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Untitled. L Train. New York City Subway. August 2017. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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“Magic City” in Dresden : Exhibition of Street Artists and City as Muse

“Magic City” in Dresden : Exhibition of Street Artists and City as Muse

An unusual amalgam of the interactivity of the street combined with the formality of a gallery environment, Magic City opened this fall in a converted factory in Dresden, Germany with an eclectic selection of 40+ artists spanning the current and past practices of art in the street.

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Skewville. Children enjoying Skewville’s “tete-a-tete” shopping cart. Ernest Zacharevic’s mobile in the background. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With revered culture critic and curator Carlo McCormick at the helm alongside curator Ethel Seno, the richly marbled show runs a gamut from 70’s subway train writers and photographers like Americans Daze, Henry Chalfant, and Martha Cooper to the Egyptian activist Ganzeer, Italian interventionist Biancoshock, popagandist Ron English, and the eye-tricking anamorphic artist from the Netherlands, Leon Keer.

Veering from the hedonistic to the satiric to head-scratching illusions, the collection allows you to go as deep into your education about this multifaceted practice of intervening public space as you like, including just staying on the surface.

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Ernest Zacharevic mobile with a “listening station” on the left. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

It’s not an easy balance to strike – some of these artists have heavy hearts and withering critiques of human behaviors and institutional hypocrisies ranging from 1st World treatment of refugees to celebrity culture to encroaching surveillance on individual rights, government oppression, and urban blight.

Magic City doesn’t try to shield you from the difficult topics, but the exhibition also contains enough mystery, fanboy cheer, eye candy and child-like delight that the kids still have plenty of fun discoveries to take selfies with. We also saw a few kissing couples, so apparently there is room for some romance as well.

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 A visitor to Magic City enjoys a “listening station”. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“We believe that even the typical city is uncommon, and that the idiosyncrasies that make each city unique are collectively something they all have in common,” says McCormick in his text describing the exhibition. “This is then a celebration of the universal character of cities as well as a love letter to their infinite diversity. The special magic that comes from our cities is germinated in the mad sum of their improbable juxtapositions and impossible contradictions.”

Of particular note is the sound design throughout the exhibition by Sebastian Purfürst and Hendrick Neumerkel of LEM Studios that frequently evokes an experiential atmosphere of incidental city sounds like sirens, rumbling trains, snatches of conversations and musical interludes. Played at varying volumes, locations, and textures throughout the exhibition, the evocative city soundscape all adds to a feeling of unexpected possibilities and an increased probability for new discovery.

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Olek’s carousel from above. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Obviously this Magic City cannot be all things to all people, and some will criticize the crisp presentation of a notably gritty series of subcultures, or perhaps the omission of one genre or technique or important artist. It’s not meant to be encyclopedic, rather a series of insights into a grassroots art and activism practice that continues to evolve in cities before our eyes.

For full disclosure, we curated the accompanying BSA Film Program for Magic City by 12 artists and collectives which runs at one end of the vast hall – and Mr. Rojo is on the artist roster with 15 photographs of his throughout the exhibition, so our view of this show is somewhat skewed.

Here we share photographs from the exhibition taken recently inside the exhibition for you to have a look for yourself.

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Olek (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Ron English (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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A MadC installation made with thousands of spray can caps. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Belgian urban naturalist ROA (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Skewville . ROA (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Skewville (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Daze (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Martha Cooper at the gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Henry Chalfant at the gallery. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Bordalo II (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Andy K. detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dan Witz (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dan Witz (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Isaac Cordal. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Isaac Cordal (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Anders Gjennestad AKA Strok (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Icy & Sot with Asbestos on the left. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Replete (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Truly (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Leon Keer (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Jaime Rojo. A young visitor enjoying the Kids Trail through a peephole with Jaime’s photos inside an “electrical box”. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Jaime Rojo. The Kids Trail wasn’t only for kids it seems. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Tristan Eaton on the right. Olek on the left. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Aiko at the Red Light District. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The Yok & Sheryo (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Herakut. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Herakut (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Full list of participating artists:

Aiko, AKRylonumérik, Andy K, Asbestos, Benus, Jens Besser, Biancoshock, Mark Bode, Bordalo II, Ori Carino & Benjamin Armas, Henry Chalfant, Martha Cooper, Isaac Cordal, Daze, Brad Downey, Tristan Eaton, Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Fino’91, Ganzeer, Anders Gjennestad, Ben Heine, Herakut, Icy & Sot, Leon Keer, Loomit, MadC, OakOak, Odeith, Olek, Qi Xinghua, Replete, Roa, Jaime Rojo, Skewville, SpY, Truly, Juandres Vera, WENU, Dan Witz, Yok & Sheryo, Ernest Zacharevic.

 

Visit MAGIC CITY DRESDEN for more details, news, videos and the blog.

 


This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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“Magic City” Premieres in Dresden : Seno and McCormick as Alchemists

“Magic City” Premieres in Dresden : Seno and McCormick as Alchemists

40 Artists Up Along Main Street, 12 More in the BSA Film Program

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Curators Ethel Seno and Carlo McCormick in front of a new mural by German duo Herakut announcing the premiere of Magic City in Dresden. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)


 

“Nature is a petrified magic city.” – Novalis

Curator Carlo McCormick quotes Novalis by way of describing this new exhibit of an eclectic blend of terrific troublemakers, pop-culture hijackers, and show-stopping crowd pleasers drawn from cities all around the Street Art/ graffiti /urban art scene today – and forty years ago. This is a welcoming walk of unexpected intersections that only McCormick and co-curator Ethel Seno could imagine – and pull together as a panoply of street wizardry that acknowledges activism, artistry, anarchy, and aesthetics with a sincere respect for all. It will be interesting to see how this show is viewed by people who follow the chaotic street scene today in the context of its evolution and how they read the street signs in this city.

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Curator Ethel Seno with Managing Director Dieter Semmelmann and exhibition Designer Tobias Kunz cutting the ribbon at the premiere of Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

McCormick, in his customary self-effacing humor, expects there to be some shit flying – as anyone who is involved in this scene expects from the hard-scrabble rebellious margins and subcultures that this art-making interventionist practice rises from. There also are a growing and coalescing mini-legion of scholars and academics who are currently grappling with the nature and characteristics of this self-directed art-making practice rooted often in discontent – now organized inside an exhibition that is ticketed and sold as a family friendly show.

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Street Artist and pop mashup painter Tristan Eaton in front of his new mural wall at the premiere of Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

In his descriptions of the public sphere, the writer, historian, author, and cultural critic McCormick often refers to graffiti and street artists messing with “contested space”. It’s an apt description whether we are talking about the public space in high-density gleaming metropolises or the bombed-out grid-less and polluted quagmires of human fallibility and urban un-planning that dot our globe; all public space its nature is contested.

Here is a place used by many artists to protest, agitate, advocate, or deliver critique – and many of the artists in this exhibition have done exactly this in their street practice, often pushing limits and defining new ones. Dig a little into many of the individual story lines at play here and you’ll see that the vibrant roots of social revolution are pushing up from the streets through the clouds of propaganda and advertising, often mocking them and revealing them in the process.

Ultimately, this Magic City experience is an elixir for contemplating the lifelong romance we have with our cities and with these artists who cavort with us within them. “Our Magic City is a place and a non-place,” McCormick says in a position statement on the exhibit. “It is not the physical city of brick and mortar but rather the urban space of internalized meanings. It is the city as subject and canvas, neither theme park nor stage set, but an exhibition showcasing some of the most original and celebrated artists working on and in the city today.”

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Mixed media Street Artist Asbestos from Dublin, graffiti master/ painter Chris “Daze” Ellis from NYC, and Tristan Eaton from Los Angeles at the premiere of Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Curator Carlo McCormick with New York billboard/culture jammer and artist Ron English in front of his new wall mural at premiere of Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Dutch anamorphic art master Leon Keer with Polish crochet transformer/Street Artist Olek at the premiere of Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

BSA curated the film program for Magic City with a dynamic array of some of the best Street Art related films today presented together in a relaxed environment. In this video hosted by Andreas Schanzenbach you get a taste of the works that are showing that we draw from our weekly surveys on BSA Film Friday. Over the last few years we have had the honor of presenting live in-person to students and scholars and fans an ever-evolving collection of videos that speak to the spirit experimentation, discovery and culture-jamming outrageousness of urban interventions, graffiti and Street Art.  The BSA Film Program at Magic City presents a survey of some of the very best that we have seen recently.

Magic City artists include:
Akrylonumerik, Andy K, Asbestos, Ben Heine, Benuz, Biancoshock, Bordalo II, Brad, Downey, Dan Witz, Daze, Ernest Zacharevic, Ganzeer, Henry Chalfant, HERAKUT, Icy & Sot, Isaac Cordal, Jaime Rojo, Jens Besser, Juandres Vera, Lady Aiko, Leon Keer, Loomit, MAD C, Mark Bode, Martha Cooper, Oakoak, Odeith, Olek, Ori Carin / Benjamin Armas, Qi Xinghua, Replete, ROA, Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Skewville, SpY, Tristan Eaton, Truly, WENU Crew, Yok & Sheryo

The BSA Film Program for Magic City includes the following artists:
Borondo, Brad Downey & Akay, Ella + Pitr, Faile, Farewell, Maxwell Rushton, Narcelio Grud, Plotbot Ken, Sofles, Vegan Flava, Vermibus

Some behind the scenes shots days before the Premiere

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Popagandist Ron English preparing his Temper Tot at Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Popagandist Ron English preparing his Temper Tot at Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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DAZE reviewing his work at Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Urban naturalist ROA at Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Sheryo strikes a pose while the guys build the installation she did with The Yok at Magic City in Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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A Magic City Slowly Unfolds In Dresden : Artists Building Now

A Magic City Slowly Unfolds In Dresden : Artists Building Now

“The special magic that comes from our cities is germinated in the mad sum of their improbable juxtapositions and impossible contradictions,” says curator Carlo McCormick when talking about the new show opening in Dresden, Germany this week in a former engine factory called Magic City : The Art of the Street.

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AIKO at work on her piece for Magic City. Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

Along with curator Ethel Seno and a creative team (full disclosure, BSA is part of it) McCormick is evoking an interstitial city that rises from the streets in many urban centers globally. Whether it is graffiti, Street Art, urban interventions, detournement, adbusting, or myriad cultural refinements, artists and activists are commonly, sometimes radically, altering the city and our experience of it.

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Mad C at work on her piece for Magic City. Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

By engaging some of the best visual and intellectual examples of the whole current scene with a full knowledge of our recent past, Magic City lays out a route for you to appreciate the individual and a sense of the cumulative. It’s bold and somewhat romantic move to look for magic in the Graffiti / Street Art / Urban Art scene. Some may argue that it consists of nothing less.

Over the last few weeks about 40 artists have been installing brand new pieces and environments in the long wide factory space in advance of the grand preview this weekend. Here are some process shots of the building of a Magic City.

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OLEK at work on her piece for Magic City. Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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OLEK at work on her piece for Magic City. Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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ROA at work on his piece for Magic City. Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Ernest Zacharevic at work on his piece for Magic City. Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Benuz at work on his piece for Magic City. Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Qi-Xinghua at work on his piece for Magic City. Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Replete at work on his piece for Magic City. Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Ori Carino and Benjamin Armas at work on their piece for Magic City. Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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WENU at work on their piece for Magic City. Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Jens Besser at work on his piece for Magic City. Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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Leon Keer at work on his piece for Magic City. Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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SpY. Magic City. Dresden, Germany. (photo © Rainer Christian Kurzeder)

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ROA and Pastel in Kiev for “Art United Us”

ROA and Pastel in Kiev for “Art United Us”

Two new pieces in Kiev from Belgian Street Artist ROA and Argentian Street Artist Pastel, both for the ArtUnitedUs project.

Pastel took some time to study history of the Makhnovist movement during the 1917 Russian Revolution, he says, as well as the libertarian revolution in the Ukraine. Naturally, botany was his chosen method of communicating such complex events.

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Pastel for ArtUnitedUs in Kiev, Ukraine. (photo © @dronarium)

He also studied local plants for inspiration, and posted this quote on his Facebook page.

“We have all flirted with freedom and, deep inside all of us have the urge to make it a serious relationship. The Anarchist values of individual freedom, grass roots democracy, and the decentralisation of all forms of power are, if anything, more pertinent today then over. See you on the barricades.” -Tony Allen, Kiev

See here a photo he used for a sketch of his new wall during his preparation.

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In his familiar monochromatic aerosol hand rendering below ROA depicts local marginalized friends from the animal world. His practice is to study his host city and find the local animals that are not commonly celebrated or thought of very often, in effect giving them a visual voice in the cityscape. His painting took five days and was slowed by a painful foot problem, but ultimately he powered through.

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ROA for ArUnitedUs in Kiev, Ukraine. (photo © @dronarium)

 

ArtUnitedUs co-founded and curated by Geo Leros, Iryna Kanishcheva, Waone Interesni Kazki

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“Art Silos” Rise in the Harbor of Catania, Sicily

“Art Silos” Rise in the Harbor of Catania, Sicily

They’ve been here since the 1950s, these silos for wheat and corn on the harbor of Catania on the east coast of the island of Sicily at the foot of Mount Etna. 28 meters tall and facing the Ionian Sea, they are now some of the largest canvasses in Italy by a small group of international and local Street Artists.

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Interesni Kazki. Detail. (photo © VladyArt)

The “Art Silos” project includes works completed during an eight month installation begun in June 2015 as part of Festival “I-ART” organized by “Emergence”, thanks to Angelo Bacchelli, curated by Giuseppe Stagnitta. The artists taking part in the project were Okuda (Spain), ROSH333 (Spain), Microbo (Italy), BO130 (Italy), VladyArt (Italy), Danilo Bucchi (Italy) and the duo Interesni Kaxki (Ukraine), mostly all from the graffiti/Street Art world. A separately organized but related project on the harbor-facing row of eight silos was completed by one artist alone, the Lisbon-based Vhils.

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Interesni Kazki. Detail. (photo © VladyArt)

The project’s completion at the turn of the year culminated in one of the largest Street Art/Graffiti artists’ collective shows in Italy held in the city’s main public gallery Palazzo Platamone, entitled “Codici Sorgenti” (Source Code), which was curated by Stefano S. Antonelli and Francesca Mezzano from Rome’s 999 Contemporary Gallery.

There is talk about the possibility that this exhibition of about 60 artists work will tour throughout Europe with its message of the historic roots of modern graffiti and Street Art along with many of its most impactful practitioners pushing into the contemporary art world.

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Interesni Kazki. Detail. (photo © VladyArt)

According to Arianna Ascione in Artsblog.it, the gallery exhibition was “divided into three sections that tell the birth, interactive development and consecration of the (graffiti/street art) phenomenon” Indeed, the list contains works by 108, A One, Augustine Iacurci, Alexis Diaz, Alexone, Bo 130, Boris Tellegen (aka Delta), Brad Downey, C215, Clemens Behr, Conor Harrington, Crash, Delta 2, Dondi White, Doze Green, El Seed, Ericailcane, Eron, Escif, Evol, Faile, Feitakis, Gaia, Herbert Baglione, Horfee, Interesni Kazki, Invader, Jaz, Jeff Aerosol, Mark Jenkins, Jonone, JR, Judith Supine, Kool Poor, The Atlas, Lek & Sowat, Lucy McLauchlan, Matt Small, Maya Hayuk, Mensanger, Miss Van, Momo, Moneyless, Peeta, Rammellzee, Retna, Roa, Seth, Philippe Baudelocque, Sharp, Shepard Fairey, StenLex, Swoon, The London Police, Todd James,Toxic, and the aforementioned Vhils.

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Interesni Kazki. Detail. (photo © VladyArt)

Ironically the genre-melting inclination of so-called “urban art” has eroded the silo mentality of many who follow these art forms as they become known, followed, collected, and exhibited; As a metaphor “Art Silos” may more accurately refer to the past and the dogmatic separation of genres such as graffiti, tattoo, illustration, ad jamming, and Street Art for example.

Although not strictly what you might call public art either, the scale of “Art Silos”, with its major artworks that typically may take years to be approved in large cities elsewhere, is an occurrence routinely happening in cities around the world.

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Vlady Art and BO130. Detail. (photo © VladyArt)

For us this is one more example of the “New Muralism” that is enabling Street Artists to do major works in public spaces via non-traditional routes. On par with a public art works of other committee-approved sorts, this silo project was a private/public collaboration that made selections, secured funding and permissions from the harbor authorities, city figures, politicians and the manager of the silos themselves, according to VladyArt, who along with Microbo is one of the artists and a resident of Catania.

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Vlady Art (photo © VladyArt)

He says the size of the project and the power of the imagery combined with the process of watching them go up has drawn a lot of attention to the area lately. “The people here were amazed by our speed and the large scale operation. Catania had no large murals like this… this was the very first time for Sicily. They can be seen from far away and even from taking off from and landing at the airport – or coming by cruise line on the sea. It seems that nobody really paid that much attention to this spot before, and everyone is talking about it now.”

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BO130 and Vlady Art. Detail. (photo © VladyArt)

To understand why a project of this nature can happen so quickly these days, look no further than the location. As we have recounted numerous times, often these efforts are deliberately programmed to draw attention to economically challenged areas as a way of encouraging tourism and investment.

In fact VladyArt says that this historic region and city that dates back many centuries before Christ is having a very challenging time economically and socially and could use positive attention from a crowd that appreciates art. “Catania is somehow the most dynamic city of Sicily, because of its industrial and commercial features,” he says.

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Lucamaleonte. Work in progress. (photo © VladyArt)

“Having said that, please be aware that the south of Italy is no way wealthy or an easy place, despite its beauty and lucky location in the sun. Almost the whole city is rough, I can name a many neighborhoods where this is the case.”

So it is all the more remarkable that a multi-artist iconic installation can happen here in Catania and people are exposed to a grassroots-fueled art scene that is currently galloping across the globe.

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Lucamaleonte. Work in progress. (photo © VladyArt)

“Regular people around here don’t know much about the whole thing, street art and stuff,” says Vlady Art. “So, quite frankly they wouldn’t care much about Okuda, Vhils or Interesni. They never heard of them before and probably people will find hard to spell their names. They cannot catch the meaning or the purpose of this. They simply like what they see – they like this energy. They do get the ‘message’, the power of art.”

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Danilo Bucchi (photo © VladyArt)

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Okuda (photo © VladyArt)

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Microbo (photo © VladyArt)

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ROSH333 (photo © VladyArt)

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The Silos facing the city. (photo © VladyArt)

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Vhils on the side of the silos facing the water. (photo © VladyArt)

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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This article is also published in The Huffington Post.

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BSA Images Of The Week: 04.24.16

BSA Images Of The Week: 04.24.16

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If you are a New Yorker feeling the burn it could be the Hasidim who lit fires every two blocks in parts of Brooklyn Friday to mark Passover (see our final image). The smoke and ash were staining sidewalks and wafting through neighborhoods until being washed away with the Purple Rain Friday night, or maybe those were just the collective tears of so many who were mourning the sudden death of a loved one, Prince.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today, to get through this thing called life,” he inveighed to us in the beginning of one of his songs, and we’re going to have to find a way to celebrate his life when this heaviness passes, but for now a black lacey veil seems more appropo. Yes, Street Artists have begun to put up their tributes, and we hope to have some fine examples to show you next week. The one featured here by Pussy Power was actually up before he passed away.

So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Balu, Bast, Christina Angelina, Dain, Dee Dee, FTW, Icy & Sot, Irwin Bakx, Kid Super, Kuma, Purge, Pussy Power, ROA, Star Fightera, Thomas Allen and Wall Play.

Our top image: Icy & Sot “let Her Be Free” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Thomas Allen (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Pussy Power (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dee Dee (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dee Dee (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Kid Super . Wall Play (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Feel The Bern (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Did She? (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Kuma Purge (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Star Fightera for The Bushwick Collective. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Star Fightera for The Bushwick Collective. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Bast (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Balu (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Balu (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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ROA. Wynwood District. Miami. (photo © Irwin Bakx)

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Dain (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dain (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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FTW (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Untitled. Passover ritual. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. April 2016. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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A ROA Diary Update in Pictures

A ROA Diary Update in Pictures

A ROA update today – with many exclusive photos here for BSA readers with personal pictures taken and selected by the artist himself.

The Belgian Street Artist, whom we long ago christened as an “Urban Naturalist”, has quite defined the category. He’s well traveled and well regarded. He can’t seem to stand still; Borders for him are an imaginary nuisance – or at least he would love them to be. By his own admission he is most at ease while up high on a boom lift battling a wall, or making friends with it.

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ROA. BukRuk. Bangkok, Thailand. 2015 (photo © ROA)

From highly commercial and corporate sponsored events to respected grassroots driven or socio-politically rooted organizations with whom he works, ROA brings the animal world into the conversation, sometimes tragically and other times comically. In an inter-connected view of the world and its various natural systems we somehow blind ourselves to our neighbors in the animal category. ROA makes sure that their voices are being considered in enormous and more subtle ways, giving them center stage and first billing.

Here are new pieces from Hawaii, New Jersey, Tahiti, Copenhagen, Italy, Denmark, Coney Island, Australia, Puerto Rico, Arkansas, Harlem (NYC), Bangkok, Dubai, and Belgium. Our sincere thanks to ROA for bringing us on this massive and glorious tour with him so far.

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ROA. Ødense Harbor, Denmark. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Ødense Harbor, Denmark. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Perc Tucker Regional Gallery – Townsville City Counsil. Townsville, Australia. 2015 (photo © ROA)

“Thanks Tegen for dancing in front of the Crocodile and Turtle”

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ROA. Perc Tucker Regional Gallery – Townsville City Council. Townsville, Australia. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Perc Tucker Regional Gallery – Townsville City Council. Townsville, Australia. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Jersey City, NJ. Jonathan LeVine Gallery – Mana Contemporary. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Vieques, Puerto Rico. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Vieques, Puerto Rico. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Just Kids Residency. San Juan, Puerto Rico. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Just Kids Residency. San Juan, Puerto Rico. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Just Kids Residency. San Juan, Puerto Rico. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. The Unexpected. Forth Smith, Arkansas. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. The Unexpected. Forth Smith, Arkansas. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Surface with Soren Solkaer. Copenhagen, Denmark. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Monument Art. El Barrio. East Harlem. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Festival ONO’U. Tahiti – Papeete. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Coney Art Walls. Coney Island, Brooklyn. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. POW WOW 15. Hawaii. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Muratista. Sadali – Sardinia, Italy. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Muratista. Sadali – Sardinia, Italy. 2015 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Dubai Walls. Dubai. 2016 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Dubai Walls. Dubai. 2016 (photo © ROA)

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ROA. Chrystal Ship Festival. Ostend, Belguim. 2016 (photo © ROA)

 

 

 

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BSA “Images of the Year” for 2015 : New Video

BSA “Images of the Year” for 2015 : New Video

Was 2015 the “Year of the Mural”?

A lot of people thought so, and the rise of commercial festivals and commissioned public/private mural programs probably brought more artists to more walls than in recent history. Judging from the In Box, 2016 is going to break more records. Enormous, polished, fully realized and presented, murals can hold a special role in a community and transform a neighborhood, even a city.

But they are not the “organic” Street Art that draws us into the dark in-between places in a city, or at its margins.

We keep our eyes open for the small, one-off, idiosyncratic, uncommissioned, weirdo work as well, as it can carry clues about the culture and reveal a sage or silly solo voice.  It also just reinforces the feeling that the street is still home to an autonomous free-for-all of ideas and opinions and wandering passions. For us it is still fascinating to seek out and discover the one-of-a-kind small wheatpastes, stencils, sculptures, ad takeovers, collages, and aerosol sprayed pieces alongside the enormous and detailed paintings that take days to complete.

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The main image above is from a vinyl subway advertisement that was high-jacked and we published it in February of this year on our Images of the Week posting. It’s small, personal, and very effective as you can see someone suspiciously similar to Batman is jumping out of the mouth of someone looking awfully similar to Hedwig of “Angry Inch” fame.

Of the 10,000 or so images photographer Jaime Rojo took in 2015, here are a selection 140+ of the best images from his travels through streets looking for unpermissioned and sanctioned art.

Brooklyn Street Art 2015 Images of the Year by Jaime Rojo

 

Brooklyn Street Art 2015 Images of the Year by Jaime Rojo includes the following artists;

365xlos43, Amanda Marie, Andreas Englund, Augustine Kofie, Bisser, Boijeot, Renauld, Bordaloli, Brittany, BunnyM, Case Maclaim, Casg, Cash4, CDRE, Clet, Cost, Curve, Dain, Dal East, Dan Budnik, Dan Witz, David Walker, DeeDee, Dennis McNett, Don Rimx, Ricardo Cabret, LNY, Alex Seel, Mata Ruda, Don’t Fret, Dot Dot Dot, ECB, El Mac, El Sol25, Ella & Pitr, Eric Simmons, Enest Zacharevic, Martha Cooper, Martin Whatson, Ever, Faile, Faith47, Findac, Futura, Gaia, Gilf!, Hanksy, Hellbent, Hot Tea, How & Nosm, Icy and Sot, Inti, Invader, Isaac Cordal, James Bullough, Janet Dickson, Jef Aerosol, Jilly Ballistic, Joe Iurato, John Fekner, Le Diamantaire, Li Hill, LMNOPI, London Kaye, Low Brow, Marina Capdevilla, Miss Van, Mr. Prvrt, Mr. Toll, Myth, Nafir, Nemos, Never Crew, Nick Walker, Nina Pandolofo, Old Broads, Oldy, Ollio, Os Gemeos, Owen Dippie, Paper Skaters, Pet Bird, Kashink, Smells, Cash4, PichiAvo, Pixel Pancho, QRST, ROA, Ron English, Rubin415, Saner, Sean 9 Lugo, Shai Dahan, Shepard Fairey, Sheryo & The Yok, Sinned, Sipros, Skewville, Slikor, Smells, Sweet Toof, Snowden, Edward Snowden, Andrew Tider, Jeff Greenspan, Specter, Stray Ones, Sweet Toof, Swil, Willow, Swoon, The Outings Project, Toney De Pew, Tristan Eaton, Various & Gould, Vermibus, Wane, Wk Interact

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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“Monument Art” Murals Sing of El Barrio in 2015

“Monument Art” Murals Sing of El Barrio in 2015

Some of these new murals are definitely monumental. As are some of the social ills addressed by themes such as immigration and the world refugee crisis. With a dozen international artists painting over the last two weeks, the debut show of the Monument Art Project in the New York neighborhoods of El Barrio, East Harlem and the South Bronx, some logistics have been equally immense, but finally the job is complete and people are talking about the new works they watched being painted.

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Ever. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Not quite street art and not quite your local community mural, these finished opus works are more poetic than activist, more visionary than purely aesthetic; occupying a modern mid-way between those archetypes of public art we call the “New Muralism”.

Following on the success of the Los Muros Hablan festival staged a couple of years ago in San Juan, Puerto Rico and New York, organizers Jose Morales and Celso González expand their international reach and bring it back home with the stalwart and vehement support of New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

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Ever. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Argentina, Belgium, Los Angeles, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Africa – an admirable list of participants for a festival this size. What this dispersed program has that many recent commercial “Street Art” festivals have been lacking is a cognition of community, a connection– however refracted – to the people who are going to live with it. MonumentArt is aiming to engage the community with images and themes that resonate with many of the members – perhaps sparking conversations among chance encounters.

Here El Mac channels his influences of Caravaggio and Chicano culture to collaborate with Cero on a portrait evocative of haloed church icons. This serious and thoughtful figure rising high above everyone’s head is the well known Nuyorican writer Nicholasa Mohr, who has told many stories of Puerto Rican women, their travails and ascendency in the Bronx and El Barrio.

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Ever. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Notably Viajero’s boy in a handmade boat of newspaper pages addresses the dangerous figurative and literal waters that refugees are facing today, including children. With his back turned to us and his distrustful glance over the shoulder he may be questioning our commitment to saving those poor and needy in country that congratulates itself for its religious roots.

While quite different stylistically the mural reminds us of a 3-D installation done by Lituanian street artist Ernest Zacharevic in Norway’s Nuart Festival just last month.

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Ever. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The topic of immigration is hammered home by Mexican muralist Sego as well as he strips away the skin of the Statue of Liberty, as if in an attempt to see what lies beneath that oxidized copper exterior in New York harbor symbolizing “welcome”.  Look again and see the points of her famous crown are transmuted into a feathered headdress, similar to those of the continents’ original citizens. In a nation of immigrants, New York’s multitude of populations typify the immigrant life and their plight is intrinsically tied to our history.

The quality of work is here, as is the articulation of ideas and themes. Curated thoughtfully and selected carefully, the MonumentArt collection gives back to the community it is nested within.

Argentinian artist Ever appropriated local kids as inspiration along with photos taken by Martha Cooper of immigrants in the 1990s and themes related to Puerto Rican independence and the US occupation of the island of Vieques. His signature kaleidoscope visions and voices pile and wind around the head like folkloric waves of energy.

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Ever. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

But even working directly with the community, Ever tells us that things don’t go as smoothly as you might expect. He also discusses how intrinsic the topic of immigration is to his piece and to the story of New York.

Brooklyn Street Art: The top figure on your mural is of boy. Can you tell us who he is?
EVER: This is funny. I was here doing some research and these kids were playing basketball on the courts and I saw one of them and he caught my attention and I decided to approach him. It was kind of hard for me since I’m not from here and I didn’t think I’d have the right words to talk to him so I was a bit nervous.

I told him my pitch and his first reaction was “No I don’t want you to take my picture”. So it was hard for me because he was the one I wanted to paint on the wall. And he told me he didn’t want to be a part of it. So I said cool. But when his friends, one by one came forward and told me that they would like to do it and got excited he then at that moment he changed his mind and told me he wanted to do it.

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Ever. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

I was very happy but when I told him he had to pose of a photo first he said, “OK but take only three pictures”. I said to myself, ‘Come on you are like Madonna.” Finally he posed and I got my photo.

Then for the other kids I went to Martha Cooper’s studio to do some more research on East Harlem and to find more photos related to the neighborhood. The other two figures are from photos Martha Cooper took in the 80’s and 90’s in El Barrio. One was taken during a Latin-American parade more than 20 years ago.

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Faith 47. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

When I was on the plane coming here I had an idea of what I wanted to do. I wanted to talk about the issue of immigration in my piece. For me is insane that in the 21st Century we are still having problems with immigration. I’m a product of immigration. My parents came to Argentina from Spain. Most cities in most nations are created by immigrants. So it is crazy that there are still some people who see immigrants like the enemy. They are talking about people who live next to them, people who are their neighbors. So we must accept immigration as a reality of all nations and New York is a huge example of different cultures living together without big problems. In New York one can breath freedom. And that’s the subject I wanted to approach.

We all move to different places all the time. As humans it is in our nature to be nomads. When we look up at the sky we see the birds flying around without papers, without limits. And we humans we have to be limited to a piece of paper that determines if we are allowed in or not.

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Faith 47. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

These three figures on this mural represent the future of this country: The next generation. It is absurd to hear politicians when they talk about immigration and they make the immigrants their enemies. This is a beautiful country and for the most part people who come here are trying to find a better future. Furthermore I think that most people dream of someday being able to go back to their countries of origin.

I was recently in Tijuana and I noticed two individuals having a conversation but they were separated by this fence, this wall. You could see the two families on two different sides of the fence and it was something that made a big impression on me.

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Luis R. Vidal. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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SEGO. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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SEGO. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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SEGO. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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SEGO. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Viajero. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Viajero. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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ROA. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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ROA. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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ROA. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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ROA. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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El Mac and Cero. Detail. Collaboration on this Mosaic and paint portrait of poet Nicholasa Mohr. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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El Mac. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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El Mac. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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CERO. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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CERO. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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El Mac and Cero. Collaboration on this portrait of poet Nicholasa Mohr. The mosaic portion was done by Cero and the portrait by El Mac. Monument Art Project 2015. El Barrio, East Harlem, NYC. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

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This article is also published in The Huffington Post.

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Technology, Festivals, and Murals: 15 Years on the Street Art Scene

Technology, Festivals, and Murals: 15 Years on the Street Art Scene

It’s good to be asked to write an essay once in a while as it makes us take a step back and more fully examine a topic and appreciate it. On the occasion of Nuart’s 15th anniversary and it’s accompanying print publication last week Martyn Reed asked us to look at the street art / urban art / graffiti scene and to give an analysis about how it has changed in the time that the festival has been running. The essay is a long one, so grab a cup of joe and we hope you enjoy. Included are a number of images in and around Stavanger from Jaime Rojo, not all of them part of the festival, including legal and illegal work.

Technology, Festivals, and Murals as Nuart Turns 15

Steven P. Harrington and Jaime Rojo

Nuart is turning 15 this year and like most brilliant teenagers it is alternately asking you challenging questions, finding you somewhat uncool, or is on your tablet ordering a new skateboard with your credit card. Nuart started with mainly music and is now mainly murals; an internationally well-regarded venue for thoughtfully curated urban art programs and erudite academic examination – with an undercurrent of troublemaking at all times. Today Nuart can be relied upon to initiate new conversations that you weren’t expecting and set a standard for thoughtful analysis of Street Art and its discontents.

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Pøbel (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We are in the thick of it, as it were, this great expansion of a first global grassroots people’s art movement. Give it any title you like, the flood of art in the streets that knocks on BSA’s door daily is unabated. We admit that we often get caught up in the moment and forget to study our forebears, Street Art’s progenitors and contributors – and that we sometimes are unable to appreciate the significance of this incredible time. So we are happy when the Nuart team asked us to take a long view of the last fifteen years and to tell them what we see.

As we mark Nuart’s milestone, we see three important developments on the Street Art scene while it evolves: Technology, Festivals, and Murals.

And just before we discuss these three developments in Street Art we emphasize what has stayed the same; our own sense of wonder and thrill at the creative spirit, however it is expressed; we marvel to see how it can seize someone and flow amidst their innermost, take hold of them, convulse through them, rip them apart and occasionally make them whole.

What has changed is that the practice and acceptance of Street Art, the collecting of the work, it’s move into contemporary art, have each evolved our perceptions of this free-range autonomous descendant of the graffiti practice that took hold of imaginations in the 2000s. At the least it hasn’t stopped gaining converts. At this arbitrary precipice on the timeline we look back and forward to identify three impactful themes that drive what we are seeing today and that will continue to evolve our experience with this shape-shifting public art practice.

 

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Ben Eine (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Technology

Hands down, a primary genesis for the far flung modern embrace of Street Art/Urban Art/Graffiti/public art lies in the booster rocket that propelled it into nearly everyone’s hands; digital communication and all its sundry technologies. From the early Internet websites and chat rooms accessed from your desktop to digital cameras and photo sharing platforms like Flickr in the early-mid 2000s to ever more sophisticated search technology and its accompanying algorithms, to blogs, micro blogs, and social media platforms, to the first generations of laptops and tablets, iPhones and Android devices; the amazing and democratizing advance of these communicative technologies have allowed more of us to access and share images, videos, experiences and opinion on a scale never before imagined – entirely altering the practice of art in the streets.

Where once there had been insular localized clans of aerosol graffiti writers who followed arcane codes of behavior and physical territoriality known primarily to only them in cities around the world, now new tribes coalesced around hubs of digital image sharing, enabling new shared experiences, sets of rules, and hierarchies of influence – while completely dissolving others.

 

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Tilt (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As old guards re-invented a place for themselves or disappeared altogether, a new order was being remixed in front our eyes. There were a lot of strangers in the room – but somehow we got used to it. Rather than making street art pieces for your local peers, artists began making new compositions for somebody’s phone screen in London or Honolulu or Shanghai.

Cut free from soil and social station, now garden variety hoodlums and brilliant aesthetes were commingling with opportuning art collectors, curious gallerists, unctuous opinionators, punctilious photographers and fans… along with product makers, promoters, art-school students, trend watchers, brand managers, lifestyle marketers, criminologists, sociologists, journalists, muckrakers, academics, philosophers, housewives, and makers of public policy. By virtue of climbing onto the Net everyone was caught in it, now experiencing the great leveling forces of early era digital communications that decimated old systems of privilege and gate keeping or demarcations of geography.

Looking forward we are about to be shaken again by technology that makes life even weirder in the Internet of Everything. Drone cams capture art and create art, body cams will surveil our activity and interactions, and augmented reality is merging with GPS location mapping. You may expect new forms of anonymous art bombing done from your basement, guerilla image projecting, electronic sign jamming, and perhaps you’ll be attending virtual reality tours of street art with 30 other people who are also sitting on their couches with Oculus Rifts on. Just watch.

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Swoon and David Choe (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Festivals

Thanks to the success of festivals like Nuart, myriad imitators and approximaters have mushroomed in cities everywhere. Conceived of philosophically as a series of stages for the exhibition of artistic chops with the proviso that a cultural dialogue is enriched and moved forward, not all festivals reach those goals.

In fact, we have no reason to expect that there is one set of goals whatsoever and the results are predictably variable; ranging from focused, coherent and resonant contributions to a city to dispersed, unmanageable parades of muddy mediocrity slammed with corporate logos and problematic patronage.

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MCity (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Some festivals are truly grassroots and managed by volunteers like Living Walls in Atlanta or MAUI in Fanzara, Spain. Others are privately funded by real estate interests like Miami’s Wynwood Walls or business improvement district initiatives like the L.I.S.A. Project and LoMan Festival in Manhattan, or are the vision of one man who has an interest in Street Artists, like the now-discontinued FAME festival in the small town of Grottaglie, Italy and the 140 artist takeover of a town in Tunisia called Djerbahood that is organized by an art dealer.

In some ways these examples are supplanting the work of public art committees and city planners who historically determined what kind of art would be beneficial to community and a public space. Detractors advance an opinion that festivals and personal initiatives like this are clever ways of circumventing the vox populi or that they are the deliberate/ accidental tools of gentrification.

We’ve written previously about the charges of cultural imperialism that these festivals sometimes bring as well where a presumed gratitude for new works by international painting superstars actually devolves into charges of hubris and disconnection with the local population who will live with the artwork for months and years after the artist catches a plane home.

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Dotmasters (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Nonetheless, far from Street Arts transgressive and vandalous roots, the sheer number of Street Art/Urban Art/Mural Art festivals that have popped up – either freestanding or as adjuncts to multi-discipline “arts” festivals – is having the effect of creating a wider dialogue for art in the public sphere.

As artists are invited and hosted and scissor lifts are rented and art-making materials are purchased, one quickly realizes that there are real costs associated with these big shows and the need for funding is equally genuine. Depending on the festival this funding may be private, public, institutional, corporate, or an equation that includes them all.

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Faith47 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As you may expect, the encroachment of commercial interests is nearly exhaustive in some of these newer festivals, so eager are the merchants to harvest a scene they had little or no hand in planting. Conceived of as vehicles for corporate messaging, they custom-build responsive websites, interactive Apps, clouds of clever #hashtags, company logos, Instagram handles, branded events and viral lifestyle videos with logos sprinkled throughout the “content”.

You may recognize these to be the leeching from an organic subculture, but in the case of this amorphous and still growing “Street Art Scene” no one yet knows what lasting scars this lifestyle packaging will leave on the Body Artistic, let alone civic life.

 

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Icy & Sot (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Stylistically these festivals can be a grab bag as well with curatorial rigor often taking a back seat to availability, accessibility, and the number of interested parties making nominations. While some festivals are clearly leaning toward more traditional graffiti schools, others are a hodgepodge of every discernable style from the past fifty years, sometimes producing an unpleasant sense of nausea or even tears over regrettable missed opportunity.

Clearly the quality is often uneven but, at the danger of sounding flip or callous, it’s nothing that is not easily remedied by a few coats of paint in the months afterward, and you’ll see plenty of that. Most art critics understand that the metrics used for measuring festival art are not meant to be the same as for a gallery or museum show. Perhaps because of the entirely un-curated nature of the organic Street Art scene from which these festivals evolved in some part, where no one asks for permission (and none is actually granted), we are at ease with a sense of happenstance and an uneven or lackluster presentation but are thrilled when concept, composition, and execution are seated firmly in a brilliant context.

 

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TUK (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Murals

Finally, murals have become big not just in size but popularity. Every week a street artist is exclaiming that this mural is the biggest they have every made. It is a newfound love, a heady honeymoon, a true resurgence of muralism. Even though you can’t rightly call this legal and sanctioned work true Street Art, many former and current Street Artists are making murals.

Un-civically minded urban art rebels have inferred that Street Art has softened, perhaps capitulated to more mainstream tastes. As Dan Witz recently observed, “Murals are not a schism with Street Art as much as a natural outgrowth from it.” We agree and add that these cheek-by-jowl displays of one mural after another are emulating the graffiti jams that have been taking place for years in large cities both organic and organized.

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JPS . Mizo (photo © Jaime Rojo)

From illustration to abstraction to figurative to surreal and even letter-based, this eclectic injection of styles won’t bring to mind what one may typically associate with the homegrown community mural. Aside from the aforementioned festivals that are festooning neighborhoods, the growth in mural-making may be attributable to a trend of appreciation for Do It Yourself ( D.I.Y.) approaches and the ‘makers’ movements, or a desire to add a personal aspect to an urban environment that feels unresponsive and disconnected.

Philadelphia has dedicated 30 years to their Mural Arts Program and relies on a time-tested method of community involvement for finalization of designs and most municipal murals have a certain tameness that pleases so many constituencies that no one particularly cares for them.

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Herakut (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The New Muralism, as we have been calling it, that is popping up is often more autonomous and spirited in nature than community mural initiatives of the past with their ties to the socio-political or to historical figures and events. Here there are few middlemen and fewer debates. Artists and their advocates approach building owners directly, a conversation happens, and a mural goes up.

In the case of upstart community programs like the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn, one trusted local person is ambassador to a neighborhood, insuring that community norms about nudity or politics are respected but otherwise acts purely as facilitator and remains hands-off about the content.

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JPS (photo © Jaime Rojo)

On that topic, effectively a form of censoring often takes place with murals – another distinguishing characteristic from Street Art. Given the opportunity to fully realize an elaborate composition, normally wild-eyed and ornery aerosol rebels bend their vision to not offend. Sometimes an artist can have more latitude and you may find a mural may clearly advocate a political or social point of view, as in recent murals addressing police brutality, racism, and inequality in many US cities, anti-corruption sentiments in Mexico, and pro-marriage equality in France and Ireland.

This new romance with the mural is undoubtedly helping artists who would like to further explore their abilities in more labor-intensive, time absorbing works without having to look over their shoulder for an approaching officer of the law. It is a given that what they gain in polished presentation they may sacrifice as confrontational, radical, contraventional, even experimental. The resulting images are at times stunning and even revelatory, consistent with the work of highly skilled visionaries, as if a new generation of painters is maturing before our eyes in public space where we are all witness.

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Artist Unknown (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Moving Forward

Despite the rise in festivals and mural programs and the growing volume and sophistication of technology for sharing of the images, Street Art is still found in unexpected places and the decay of neglected spaces. As before and well into the future these self ordained ministers of mayhem will be showing their stuff in the margins, sometimes identified, sometimes anonymous, communicating with the individual who just happens to walk by and witness the work. The works will impart political or social messages, other times a simple declaration that says, “I’m here.”

Whatever its form, we will be looking for it.

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Isaac Cordal (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Niels Show Meulman (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Nafir (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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John Fekner (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Blek le Rat (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dan Witz (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Site of an old piece by BLU (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dieche (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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HUSH (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Dolk (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Strok (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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ROA (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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The remnants of a Phlegm piece from a previous edition of Nuart. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!
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