Here it is! Photographer Jaime Rojo of BSA selects a handful of his favorite images from his travels through 9 countries and around New York this year to present our 2018 BSA Images of the Year.
Seeing the vast expressions of aesthetics and anti-aesthetic behavior has been a unique experience for us. We’re thankful to all of the artists and co-conspirators for their boundless ideas and energy, perspectives and personas.
Once you accept that much of the world is in a semi-permanent chaos you can embrace it, find order in the disorder, love inside the anger, a rhythm to every street.
And yes, beauty. Hope you enjoy BSA Images of the Year 2018.
Here’s a list of the artists featured in the video. Help us out if we missed someone, or if we misspelled someones nom de plume.
1Up Crew, Abe Lincoln Jr., Adam Fujita, Adele Renault, Adrian Wilson, Alex Sena, Arkane, Banksy, Ben Eine, BKFoxx, Bond Truluv, Bordalo II, Bravin Lee, C215, Cane Morto, Charles Williams, Cranio, Crash, Dee Dee, D*Face, Disordered, Egle Zvirblyte, Ernest Zacharevic, Erre, Faith LXVII, Faust, Geronimo, Gloss Black, Guillermo S. Quintana, Ichibantei, InDecline, Indie 184, Invader, Isaac Cordal, Jayson Naylor JR, Kaos, KNS, Lena McCarthy, Caleb Neelon, LET, Anthony Lister, Naomi Rag, Okuda, Os Gemeos, Owen Dippie, Pejac, Pixel Pancho, Pork, Raf Urban, Resistance is Female, Sainer, Senor Schnu, Skewville, Slinkachu, Solus, Squid Licker, Stinkfish, Strayones, Subway Doodle, The Rus Crew, Tristan Eaton, Vegan Flava, Vhils, Viktor Freso, Vinie, Waone, Winston Tseng, Zola
As upbeat as celebrations like today’s LGBTQ Pride events are here in NYC, they are rooted in defiance of the suffocating unjust norms that entrapped people in this city and across the country for generations – newly emancipating broad groups of people over the last 50 years or so. As New York City led the way with the Stonewall riots for sexual minorities, it sends this message today to people across the globe that you will be free too, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now in your country.
But LGBTQ folks needed straight allies to get their rights over five decades. Today we have to speak up loud and proud for immigrants. If you need to punch, figuratively, don’t punch downward. These people have done nothing to hurt you and are bringing a the identical aspirations your parents, grandparents, great grandparents did. Don’t believe the hype of the traumatizer who blames the traumatized.
Punch UP at the folks who shifted all the jobs away, just lowered their own taxes to their lowest rate in your entire lifetime, who are shredding the social safety net, who are creating jobs that pay so little you still have to get food stamps, who are trying to convince poor people that poor people are their enemy. It’s an old old trick and it appears to still work marvelously.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Anthony Lister, Bordalo II, Charles Williams, City Kitty, Danny Minnick, Etnik, FKDL, Lapiz, LMNOPI, Individual Activist, Niko, Nick Walker, Olivia Laita, Revaf, Sofles, Soten, and Strayones.
“The soccer world cup has begun and I took the opportunity to paint a mural about Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. It was painted during the FARBFLUT festival which took place last weekend where 200 artist painted a 1000 m wall. The mural itself measures 6 x 3.50 m.
The motive shows the Russian president Vladimir Putin kissing Vladimir Putin. The colours are those of the rainbow flag and it has the words ‘One Love’ written above it. The picture addresses Putin’s narcissism and even more the homophobic tendencies supported by the Russian government.”
“I’m flat broke but I don’t care
I strut right by with my tail in the air.”
“Stray Cat Strut” by The Stray Cats, 1981
The lyric invokes an image of New Yorkers of all stripes whom you’ve seen working the sidewalk in neighborhoods across this city, including presumably Manhattan’s Washington Heights, where Street Artist and sculptor StrayOnes grew up at the turn of the century.
His wire and steel felines have a certain sassy, scrappy, savoir faire that tells passersby that you can have a sense of class no matter the situation you may find yourself in; like catwalking along the top of fence for instance.
“Stray cats are wild. They live free on the streets,” StrayOnes tells us.
“I remember where I grew up seeing tons of stray cats,” says the mid-20s street sculptor who got his start doing graffiti for a decade or so before his game moved to installing these crafty cats with a high tensile strength high on window ledges, fences, and telephone poles throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan over the last few years.
“Everyone can relate to the struggle of a stray animal,” he says in his well-ordered studio in a railroad space on the top of a Brownstone in Bushwick, “So that’s where the name came from; StrayOnes.”
His is a uniquely practical and poetic point of view that makes a great deal of sense considering the sleekly sensible manner that one often has to navigate through situations, opportunities, threats, obstacles, and relationships in the city, particularly on the street. “I also think that cats are like humans in a way – the way they act and move. Plus when you understand animals you understand people. If you understand a stray cat you understand a person.”
The cats he was digging on the street in the 2000s are true heads in the graff game and he rocked aerosol and markers long before these fully formed characters. “I was very much a graffiti artist for a long time. I love all the big heads like Noxer, Cope2, Cost,” he says. “I like lettering a lot but then when I got into sculpture, something about a 3D. It’s so alive to me. So I wondered why not put 3D work on the street which I love so much? I also love graffiti but it started to look flat to me. I wanted to work more on something that ‘pops.’ ”
You’ll see his cats and other characters more now than before as he is seriously dedicating himself to conceiving storylines and sculptures regularly – even though he has a straight 9 to 5 that takes up his time when not in the studio or on the street. And of course, there has to be time for prowling…
This 1980s rockabilly song is not the only thing from that period that we are reminded of when talking to this guy born in the 90s. A fine arts grad from FIT in 2014, many of his artistic inspirations from the street come from that first wave of renegades, as well as a few from this century.
“I’m inspired by Keith Haring, Basquiat, Andy Warhol, a lot of the graffiti legends – Lee (Quinones) I like a lot. Banksy, especially during my graffiti teenage years.” Perhaps surprising is his mention of Lucian Freud, the British painter and draftsman, until you think of the rendered full forms in his portraits with figures almost appearing to have been modeled in clay.
Anonymous and largely unknown personally to many artists whom you meet on the New York scene, StrayOnes couldn’t be more enthusiastic or committed to it.
“NYC is the Street Art Capital and I’m happy to be a part of it. I always felt that with Street Art and graffiti you are just born loving it and I wanted do it. That’s how I grew up and the people who I grew up with – they all feel like that,” he says.
“So I’m happy to be a part of the Street Art scene. Actually nothing makes me happier. I feel like a rush, being involved in it. And I feel like it is very much alive and so is graffiti. They are not going anywhere. I’m an innovative street artists and I feel like more people are starting being innovative. I love it all.
BSA talked to StrayOnes about his pensive and inquisitive movements around the block, his affinity for sculpture, his interactions with police, Pokémon, and what he’s been reading lately.
BSA:Why do you sculpt cats and put them on the street? StrayOnes: After graffiti a got into sculpting and I wanted to put people on the street. Life-size figures. But I realized that they were kind of big. They were cool, some people were a bit creeped out about them. But then I moved to Brooklyn and I got inspired by my roommate’s cat; By the way it moved so I thought about putting a cat sculpture on the streets.
I still wanted to continue doing graffiti but at the same time I wanted to try something new. A cat sculpture always fits perfectly in the little niches and spaces on the street. Unlike my people sculptures that are always very big. The other element is the fact that they are stray cats. I feel like strays represent New Yorkers in a way.
BSA:Why did you transition from graffiti to sculptures? StrayOnes: Part of it started with the spray paint; I don’t really like the fumes that much. But I still love graffiti, typography and love doing tags with markers. I do use spray with the sculptures but now I use a mask. But something about the sculptures that is so alive. It is like when you see it it looks like a real thing and to me that’s what drew me to sculpting.
I also wanted to be unique and do something new. I also really understand the material and have figured out how to get it out on the street. I use chicken wire and it’s pretty cheap. The material is pretty hardy but it’s also light. So switching to sculptures to me is doable. It’s manageable. It isn’t a crazy process.
BSA:Do you have a cat? StrayOnes: I used to have a cat but it passed away. But that was the cat that inspired all of it in a way. It made very much realize how much I remember every stray cat interaction I had.
BSA:I like the transparency of the material and how it perfectly camouflages on the streets. StrayOnes: Yes that’s before I used to paint them. But you caught a very early one.
BSA:How do you choose the spots for your cats? StrayOnes: I usually pick a high foot-traffic block. That’s my goal. Then I look for a steel fence or grate that is a cool distance away so people can’t snatch them, but not too high that people won’t be able to see them. Lately I’ve trying to get a good contrast. My last one was a yellow cat and I place it on a bright red background so it pops more.
I really wanted people to see them actually. I didn’t intend for them to be super subtle. So I began painting them. So I went for bright colors.
BSA:When they are painted bright colors people see them and sometimes they take them. Do you care when that happens? StrayOnes: At first it pissed me off a lot. Like now it doesn’t piss me off as much. When I used to do graffiti people get buffed all the time. It is part of the game. The art is in the wild. Like leaving something in the jungle.
BSA:With your work sometimes I think that a certain piece is not going to run for a long time and others I think they will run for a long time and I’m often wrong. Do you know why? StrayOnes: I’ve gotten much better about knowing which piece will run for a long time. My intention is for a piece to run for as much as it could be possible. Of course they are on the street and it is what it is. But that’s my intention. Blocks that are covered with Street Art already they are usually good spots.
BSA:Do you feel like they are the anti-heroes on the streets; The badass actors of the streets? I’ve seen a couple of your sculptures where the cats are going after mice or birds. StrayOnes: I feel like cats represent us in a way – like strays are us. And for the bird piece you mentioned I feel like the bird was looking at the enemy on the face. Most of the time rats run away from the strays. They just don’t stop to look at cat on their face. So on the bird piece the pray is very aggressively looking back. That’s the subtle commentary running trough my work right now.
BSA:You have also sculpted other animals besides cats. I saw a raccoon recently and a Pokémon too! Are you getting bored with the cats? StrayOnes: I just wanted to have more variety. Then I got to the point where I was also getting inspired by things. Like I saw a hawk that landed on top of the ledge so I decided to do a hawk. I also see tons of raccoons in the Heights. Raccoons are really cool. It is like the animals I see in New York.
BSA:Yes many New Yorkers don’t even realize how much wildlife there’s in the city but you are bringing the wildlife to their doorsteps, or their window sills, if you will. StrayOnes: Yes stray cats are wild. They live free on the streets.
BSA:Do you have a specific time to put your work up on the street? StrayOnes: I usually go alone during the day. When it’s very sunny and everyone is in a good mood. Two o’clock in the afternoon. I used to do it at night but then I had to hop up ladders and people might have thought I was robbing their apartments. So when I do it during the day I sort of look the part and people don’t bother me. I mean people watch me doing it but they don’t have issues because they think it is cool.
BSA:How about the police? Do they bother you? StrayOnes: I haven’t dealt with the police yet. I have been stopped by park rangers. I tried to put one up in a park but they were very chill about it. They just told me to take it down. So it wasn’t a big deal. With the police you just don’t act suspiciously when you are putting the work up. It takes a lot of time do it. I tie the sculptures with wire. Sometimes I use screws and tie the sculptures to the screws. I don’t use nails. And it really isn’t easy to take them down. If they take them down they will damage the sculptures in the process. I do the same thing with the plaques.
BSA:Are you currently reading any books? Short stories? StrayOnes: Right now I am reading “King Leopold’s Ghost”. Is a historical book about the King of Belgium who made a colony in the Congo and killed millions of people. This is pretty much unspoken about in the history books. I didn’t know about it until I began reading this book. It actually explains a lot about American history. This books describe Americans from a European eyes and different points of view of the world and Africa from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. A co-worker recommended it to me.
I’ve been into history lately and with all the conflicts we are seeing today I’m trying to understand how we got to where we are. Currently the world is a mess and there’s a reason why. When I’m reading this book I see why people act the way they do now. This book was written in 1998 describes events from 150 years ago and many of the same things are still happening in today’s world. The way they teach history in America is way too American. There are all these other countries to consider and the histories can be complex.
BSA:How often do you put work up? StrayOnes: Every two or three weeks I’m working on a new sculpture. But I have also started making wood pieces.
BSA:Do you get cut a lot? Sometimes it isn’t easy to work with gloves. StrayOnes: Yes a lot. I usually start with gloves and about the time I’m done sculpting they gloves are off to do the finer work.
BSA:Have you met some of your peers in NYC? Some other Street Artists? StrayOnes: I’ve only met a couple of them but I’d like to start meeting more. I’d like to meet as many people as possible.
BSA: Is this one going outside? StrayOnes: That one has been on the street already. But it is the first one I ever did so I kept it to myself. I just sprayed it with color but underneath the layers you can see the original wire. He was going on a catwalk.
Halloween this year is on a Tuesday so its hard for people to know when exactly to celebrate it – we had 20 or so Trick-or-Treaters Saturday night so that tells you the kids vote in this part of Brooklyn.
Of course with the folks we have running the White House, every day feels like Halloween. “Here, I’ll trick you with this POPULIST costume, and my treat will be to take whats left of your middle class chocolate.”
Trick or Trick!
It doesn’t help that Tabloid TV loves the “Zombies on Parade” – they are like sugar addicts dancing for eyeballs and advertising dollars.
But from a Street Art and public performance perspective, New York is a thrill, a regular monster mash! The East Village parade 2017 on Tuesday will have puppets, 53 bands performing different types of music, dancers, artists, and thousands of New Yorkers in costume. Be safe out here ya’ll.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Karl Addison, Bifido, City Kitty, Denis Ouch, Don Rimx, Elliott Routledge, Julien de Casabianca, Julieta, Lungebox, Nevercrew, Outings Project, Revok, Sipros, Strayones, and TurtleCaps.
“Dimensional recipe” is a series of three interconnected mural paintings realized in Los Angeles (USA), curated by AnneLaure Lemaitre (FatCap), 2017.
About the work:
This is a work about mankind’s relation with creation, about the mutual influences between creativity and reality and the anthropological loop
that originates from this continuous correlation. It is about the feeling of being part of a system, of being a participant and being able to view it from a certain point of view, for what it is and for what it could be.”
“Disposing Machine” is the new mural from Nevercrew in Melano, Switzerland for Artrust. Their statement:
“Habits, attitudes, principles and awareness are conditioned by reality, and reality is conditioned by the perception everyone has of it. The position of humankind in its environment, in its World, is at the same
time part of its nature and a point of view from which to perceive it.
Systems are then interpretations, a way to give human shape to
something that’s not necessarily made for it, as well as a way to decide
which shapes to give and how to read them. As reality could be built and
altered by systems, so nature could then risk to be detached from
human sensing; an human reconstruction of something that exists
outside this given shape but that still is directly subjected to each action
that’s made on it.”
The Italian Street Artist Bifido and Spanish artists Juelieta completed this fantastical work in Lecce, Italy this week for the 167 Art Project. Bifido tells us that the title is “First Fire” and it “talks about the possibility to love each other in a fantastic way, and it focuses on the importance of play in our lives.”
Absent worries that the banks and oligarchs are poised to crash our economy into the ground and that the privatized profiteering war machine wants Trump to start WWIII its been a fantastic and sunny and crisp warm week in New York. Of course the city is a little more somber since the Yankees missed their chance at the World Series last night. In the spirit of sportspersonship we wish the best to the Astros.
Speaking of Pantone, the two walls he did this week were strong and optically dizzying/thrilling as you would expect – while the subtley more sophisticated walls were inside for Planned Iridescence near by at the GR Gallery on Bowery. The big wall done with The L.I.S.A. Project presented several technical and material difficulties which the artist eventually solved but not without having to spend a whole lot more of time on it than originally estimated: a remarkable feat, even if the wall itself isn’t a large one compared to many others he’s executed around the world. Sure enough it got the New York welcome from a graffiti artist who took the liberty to vandalize it under the cover of darkness and on the very same night of the opening party for his show.
We have grown accustomed to see the artworks by Street Artists and muralists in public vandalized, disrespected and gone over. We don’t know what justification or reasons a graffiti writer has when tagging a well executed wall and the so-called “rules” on the street depend on who’s telling them. It is interesting that the color fits right into the palette, almost as if the tagger found an unspent can that had been left on the sidewalk nearby.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Arrex Skulls, Bunny M, City Kitty, D7606, Dain, Felipe Pantone, Fintan Magee, Gods in Love, Megzany, RUN, Stikman, Stray Ones, and Thrashbird.
The Street Artist who goes by the name Gods in Love did this mural in the San Samuele district of Cerignola, Italy last month. He says that this part of the city is called “Fort Apache” by the locals – an indirect reference to the 1981 movie (and 1976 book) about a crime-ridden neighborhood in the Bronx during the 1960s-70s. The Native American tribe named The Apache that preceded the European’s arrival who lived/live in the mid-western part of this continent were known for being fierce warriors – thus the connotation with a violent proud, yet financially destitute, neighborhood in The Bronx, New York.
“A totem is a natural or supernatural entity that has a particular symbolic meaning for a person or tribe, and to whom it feels bound throughout life,” explains the artist. The term derives from the word ototeman used by the Native American people Ojibway. My choice of working on this figure arises from the need to create an image that can be symbolic of belonging to a neighborhood to a group, a symbol of belonging to the protection of the offspring and therefore of the future, a need for legality and correctness to fight or understand, integrating and accepting it, the illness stemmed from the discomfort of life in a changing neighborhood, willing to redeem. Mine is a metaphor, a symbol in which the neighborhood can fully recognize.”