UK based Irish painter and muralist Conor Harrington was in New York City for the last month with stirring new works inside the gallery space and outside on the street. His signature forms and flying garments were there: indistinctly heroic, Bacon-blurred men in an epic struggle, each wearing richly hued militaristic finery. His dramatic heroes and saboteurs race now across two canvasses on display at the massive Beyond The Streets exhibition in Brooklyn as well as across one daunting five-story walkup on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
The bigger one was probably harder.
Set aside the mercurial, blasting sun and drenching rains and otherwise sticky conditions in Gotham’s gritty summer, Harrington may not have realized that the wall was so huge. Done in concert with the L.I.S.A. Project NYC and the BTS exhibition, Conor crushed it with so much color and dramatic action across the surface (his first mural in NYC in a decade or so) that observers will be stultified by its scale and the mysterious storyline that animates it for a long time to come. The subject of the painting might be of an officer with the British army during the American Revolutionary War. If one were to imagine the piece of art differently by changing the garments and closing our eyes the figure as it is in action could very well be of a matador in a bullring confronting and taunting the bull with his cape. With a background in graffiti and a truly painterly command of the cans, you can imagine the feeling of revelation observers felt as Conor daily revealed this gripping piece in this city of immigrants, of struggle, of dreams.
Joy Gilleard and Hayley Garner are up on the lift, their buddy Samo the Artist cheering them on. They’ve committed themselves to a huge mural during Pride Week and they really could be having more fun socializing right now.
However, the UK based mural duo known on the street as Cbloxx and Aylo back in Manchester, are taking on a heavier job here – paying tribute to the million or more people buried on New York’s potter’s field, called Hart Island.
A stylistic blend photorealism and fantasy, both artists have had the opportunity to travel to many cities in the last five years – often creating works that are directly tied into the history of the location. Warm and direct, you can see that both artists are dedicated to social justice and often consider their work to be an important component in catalyzing positive change through awareness. Known variously as the home for a Union Civil War prison camp, a psychiatric institution, a tuberculosis sanatorium, a potter’s field, a homeless shelter, a boys’ reformatory, a jail, and a drug rehabilitation center, if you had forgotten the folks buried on Hart Island, Nomad Clan will help make sure that you remember.
To the lost, to the forgotten
To the beaten and trodden
To the oppressed, the brave
To the anonymous who lay in mass graves
We see you!
To the numbers and the names
To the battles and the gains
To the quiet, the unseen
The kings and queens
We see you!!!”
New York artist Ori Carino does a roll down gate in the Lower East Side neighborhood in Manhattan, which he grew up in, to pay tribute to a movement that shaped his life.
owes a lot to these downtown Heroes, Warrior Saints, visionary activists, and
artists, and I hope to serve them in my work,” he tells us of this new piece he’s
doing to celebrate the LGBTQI+ people who have been all around him since he was
“I was born on Houston Street and Sullivan Street in 1982, relatively close to Stonewall, moving two blocks from the Pyramid club when I was 8,” he says of the classic downtown bar known for pushing artistic and social boundaries in wild ways through the 1980s.
“It’s fair to say that my life has been significantly impacted by the sheer artistry and style, bravery, tragedy, and ecstatic triumphs of the gay rights movement. I’m proud that my home has always been a place where we celebrate diversity and fight for each other’s rights.”
There have been many murals in the past month that pay tribute to the history of this NYC scene that started a worldwide movement. For some reason, this one full of archetypal characters in the city strikes a deeper chord.
Ori tells us that it is meant as “an allegorical reminder of the sacrifices and nobility of the myriad heroes who engaged in the fight for equality. Each one embodies an element of the movement, as the shadows of the violent police actions and the forces of ignorance and hate, woven throughout the Stonewall movement histories, are valiantly overcome.
From the peace-sign-waving, protest-sign-wielding archetype, to the flying hero who emerges from the waving flag, each character participates in an unrelenting fight for peace. By incorporating esthetic influences from both Classical Eastern and Western art, this new work reflects that this noble cause encompasses people from all traditions and backgrounds, and the fight goes on!”
In honor of the 50th
Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn uprising in the West Village in Manhattan, we
are giving the spotlight this Sunday to the many artworks that have been
created by dozens of artists from all over the world in the city over the past
weeks. Some of them are commissioned works and others are illegally placed on
the streets, regardless of who made them or under whose sponsorship they were
created or if they were placed illegally the important thing is to realize that
the struggle for recognition, acceptance, and justice didn’t just happen
because somebody was willing to give that to us.
It happened because a lot of people before us dared to challenged the establishment and fought to change the cultural norms, the laws in the books and ultimately the perception from the society at large. People suffered unspeakable evil and pain at the hands of unmoved gatekeepers and power brokers. People died rather than living a lie. People took to the streets to point fingers at those who stood silent when many others were dying and were deemed untouchable.
People marched to vociferate and yelled the truth and were arrested and marked undesirable. Many brothers and sisters who were much more courageous than we’ll ever be, defied a system that was designed to fail them and condemn them. Restless souls confronted our political, business, media and religious leaders right in their front yards with the truth and never backed down.
So we must pay homage to
them. We have what we have because of them. We owe it to them and we need to
understand that it was because of their vision, intelligence and fearless
actions that the majority began to understand that without them and their help
we would never get equal treatment. Equal rights. Equal opportunities.
So yes let’s celebrate,
dance and sing together but let’s feel the pain of those who can’t join in on
the celebrations because today still they are on the margins, hiding in the
shadows, being cast out from their families and communities and even killed and
tortured. Let’s remember that the job isn’t done, indeed far from it. Many
countries still have in their laws harsh punishment for those that don’t
conform to their established norms. Let’s keep the fight on, the light on, the
courage on, the voices loud and the minds open. Happy Pride.
Here’s our weekly interview with the street (or boardwalk), this time featuring Aloha, Buff Monster, David Puck, Divine, Fox Fisher, Homo Riot, IronClad, Jason Naylor, Joe Caslin, JPO, Meres One, Nomad Clan, Ori Carino, Royce Bannon, Sam Kirk, SAMO, SeeTf, and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh.
From Tatyana about this piece: “Some of Us Did Not Die. We’re Still Here. – June Jordan, Black, bi-sexual, activist, poet and writer. .
Last fall I met with members of @griotcircle, a community of LGBTQ+ Black and brown elders for my residency with @nycchr. I got to speak with them about their lives and some things that came up were the challenges of being Black and gay in New York years ago, like having to travel in groups because queer folks would be attacked for walking alone. Or not being served at restaurants because they were also black. “
Two things come to mind simultaneously as we publish this collection of Street Art and graffiti. 1. All the Rainbow Flag waving means nothing if you are not willing to help protect the dignity of immigrants who are being dragged from their homes and thrown in jail-detention centers in the US, and 2. All white people are immigrants and descendants of immigrants.
We’ve all seen this movie before. Or our parents did. Or our grandparents did. You’re next, baby!
It was great to see/hear/feel Faile and Swizz Beats doing a quick summer dance party this week in Manhattan – flourescent madness ya’ll. Also, it was astounding to see so many graffiti heads and other notables at Beyond the Streets this week – It was a cultural event that blew our minds. Seriously, Corn Bread was actually selling t-shirts on a table at the entrance – and that started the litany. You can see our review published yesterday.
And finally, can we call a moratorium on rain for a few days? The grass and trees are green already.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street (or boardwalk), this time featuring AME 72, Bisco Smith, Emma Apicelli, Feminists in Struggle, IXNAY, Joe Caslin, Katsu, Part Time Artist, Royce Bannon, and Tonk Hawaii.
Ms. Moon made this installation using Legos with a message in Braille. The words in the message was taken from the script of the movie “Call Me By Your Name.”
Its an exciting time for art in the public sphere right now in NYC as Roger Gastman and his huge team are seriously preparing 100,000 sf of space in Williamsburg to completely blow away graffiti and Street Art fans alike this week with Beyond The Streets. Meanwhile the city is pumping full of at least 50 sanctioned and unsanctioned World Pride murals, Garrison Buxton pulled off the 9th Welling Court grassroots mural festival in Queens, Joe Ficalora brought Rick Ross and a host of Street Artists to Bushwick for a block party, MadC was in town hanging with Crash, Joe Caslin and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh were putting up new pieces with L.I.S.A. Project yesterday, Queen Andrea finished her commercial Houston Wall gig, and a lot of ad hoc illegal and legal graffiti and Street Art is in full effect in all five boroughs. When it comes to art in the streets, New York says ‘Bring it!’
yeliner, Jason Naylor, John Ahearn, JPO, MadC, MeresOne, Misshab, Outer Source, Queen Andrea, Ramiro Davaro-Comas, SacSix, Sonni, Tonk Hawaii and The Drif.
The winds of change are blowing, but few can discern the direction they’ll go in the upcoming elections as the city is going full tilt into fall and a twisted neoliberalism grinds us to into a frenzy of automated stock trading and market swings that make you nauseous, ever higher rents and food costs, forever-stalled wages, food banks that serve 1.5 million hungry New Yorkers annually and yet a brisk business at Tiffany’s…
— and there are delays on the 1,2,3,4,5,6,N,R,Q,M,L,G,E,F,J,W, and Z subway lines. Every day.
There is word that attendance at the upcoming Village Halloween Parade may be down this year because it’s a daily freakshow at the White House so the novelty is worn thin. Zombie here. Zombie there. Zombie everywhere.
So here is our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Al Diaz, BB Bastidas, Bob Floss, Captain Eyeliner, Danielle Mastrion, Groose Ling, Invader, Just Paint, Kenor, Lil’ Kool, Michel Velt, Pop Artoons, Sara Erenthal, Sean9Lugo, Subway Doodle, The Postman Art and Vanessa Powers.
Meanwhile, New York is getting clobbered by rain and new Street Art and murals and is electrified with the excitement of the beginning of summer. Coney Island, Bushwick, Little Italy are hot for new stuff going up again, David Choe is at the Houston Wall this week, the Bushwick Collective Block Party is June 3, and Ad Hoc’s Welling Court begins June 10.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring: Alice Pasquini, Baron Von Fancy, Blanco, City Kitty, Crash, Drsc0, Erosie, Jim Drain, Jorit Agoch, kaNO, Martin Whatson, Nick Walker, Pear, Rocket 01, Serge Lowrider, and Tod Seelie.
“As Estha stirred the thick jam he thought Two Thoughts and the Two Thoughts he thought were these:
a) Anything can happen to anyone.
b) It is best to be prepared.”
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things