Happy Easter to all the Christians! Happy end of Passover to the Jews! – and welcome to a new spring of spiking daffodiles and spiking Covid cases in New York City even while the age for vaccinations drops to 16 this week. The graffiti and Street Art is blossoming under bridges and in empty lots, as are the much needed $1400 checks and PPP loans are blossoming as well. They are meant to keep us all barely above water, which is where many New Yorkers are financially.
Maybe the trillions that Biden and Yellen and the banksters are suddenly printing will lift us, or maybe instead they’ll just trigger hyperinflation so your savings will be worth ever less? Perhaps we could require corporations and the rich to pay their fair share of taxes – or any at all? Secular heresy to suggest such a thing!
Ahhhh, but the streets! They are still alive and well, and budding with small hand-made one-off pieces, multiples, and murals. Not quite a renaissance, but we are seeing a sincere march forward by all many of artistry in the shadows and in the broad daylight, even as Rome appears to languish.
So here’s our weekly interview with the street, this time featuring: Bastard Bot, Billy Barnacles, Captain Eyeliner, Cucker Tarlson, Jesse Kreuzer, Kiki the Fox, Lunge Box, Mort Art, Nicholai Kahn, Nite Owl, NY State of Mind, Praxis VGZ, Puke Punk, SacSix, Trades Only Bro, and Urban Russian Doll NYC.
A few weeks ago we saw a populist uprising invade one of this culture’s most sacrosanct public institutions out of anger and disillusionment, among other factors; generally a repudiation of what was perceived as a corrupt cabal who ignores the will of the people. Within days the news was full of stories of the State tracking down and cracking down on the dangerous insurgents and tracing their words and actions. Alliances were suddenly severed, fingers were wildly pointed, threats were issued, straw men swiftly collapsed. An historic quake, the tremulous ground is still shifting.
We’re don’t intend to oversimplify here, but you have to admit there appear to be parallels in these stories.
In the end, we see the ripples through street art. Actually, sometimes we see the antecedents to events like these as well – but we may not recognize them as such until later. One cryptic prophet and cultural critic from the street art world, Don Leicht, passed away this week after a very trying illness. His original use of the digitalized Invader predates the high profile street artist of the same name; his comic/cutting assessments of modern hypocrisy echoed across walls of New York as early as the inception of the video game itself. A long time trusted friend and creative collaborator with street artist John Fekner, Leicht was quickly memorialized with this new installation on the street (below).
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring 1UP Crew, Bastard Bot, Below Key, CRKSHNK, De Grupo, Don Leicht, Duke A. Barnstable, Ethan Minsker, Freedom, John Fekner, Maks Art World, Nick Walker, No Sleep, and Young Samo.
Reposted from John Fekner:
“Don Leicht (October 12th, 1946-January 22nd, 2021)Don was my fierce older Libra brother, colleague and collaborator throughout almost fifty years of friendship. Don was a passionate and devout painter who played by his own Bronx cool rules; whether as a teacher in the public school system in the South Bronx, or in his hand-written personal writings or hand-cut metal, plastic or cardboard sculptural works, all visually charged with a deep meaning and social purpose. His imagery could spark a laugh or a smile; but were intended to cause a reaction within a viewer’s heart, mind and soul.
Don was a steadfast bridge to carry me through my sometimes unwieldy behavior. He would provide answers with care, understanding and positivity; whether it was in person or through a 10-minute or hour phone call. Within our conversation (and with many of his friends), he would always repeat the message as to be sure that you ‘got the message’ and would act accordingly. Don always had a simple soothing solution: ‘Get one thing done by the end of the day.’
Don was preceded in death by his wife Annie; and he will be deeply missed by his two sons, Anthony and Nicky, who helped their father throughout his overwhelming health issues, especially in this past year.
Walk on dear friend. We celebrate your life work!”
Anarchists and lawlessness on the streets of New York? Where are you looking exactly? This is a narrative that charlatans like to slander our fair city with, where we spent 8 hours hanging out on blankets on the grass yesterday in Prospect Park, performing anarchist acts like eating sandwiches, reading books, taking naps, going for walks with thousands of our neighbors. So far this is one of the most beautiful Labor Day Weekends we’ve seen in ages and there was no army present.
Every time the fearmonger’s from outside of NYC try to scare people into voting for something, you have to be amused by their ignorance and obvious disinformation – and wonder if it isn’t a generalized fear of black and brown people that drives their critiques. Maybe they are fearful that New Yorkers are the most ethnically diverse population in the country and we are always getting along just fine with each other, even liking and loving each other on a daily basis and we have been doing so for years. Gorgeous and expansively green Prospect Park in the middle of Brooklyn is a fine example of it this weekend – you’ll see people of many backgrounds hanging out happily and civilly, barbecuing meats and vegetables, playing volleyball with the youth group, tossing the frisbee with their girlfriend, sitting on blankets and playing board games with their kids and neighbors, helping babies take their first steps, helping grandpa into a folding chair.
We didn’t see one fight or argument Saturday, and the park was completely teeming with people, and we saw maybe one or two police officers throughout all day – because apparently tens of thousands of us co-New Yorkers know how to enjoy a sunny day in the park with each other and without invoking chaos. On blankets, in lawn chairs, on picnic tables – there we all were; Indians, Africans, Mexicans, Germans, Italians, Jews, Conservatives, Liberals, Koreans, Chinese, Europeans, Buddists, LGBTQI, singles, couples, families, church groups – too many to list here. You could see all kinds of different foods if you walked around and heard music being played – some of it live and spontaneous, like the Dixieland jazz band, the violin quartet, the guy on the flute. We love New York and we love New Yorkers more than ever before.
So, no, Mike Huckleberry or the Foxes or the Divider in Chief, we don’t fall for it because we know the great people of our city. Scare people in the middle of the country with stories about lawlessness in our city, but you don’t fool us for a second. For the record, 93% of the Black Lives Matter marches across the country this year have been peaceful. We’re all capable of having the hard conversations, despite what you and your networks want people to believe – New York has been proving that for years. Sorry, society is moving on – or in many cases already has moved on – from the cultural hegemony phase. It ain’t perfect, but Jesus sometimes it can feel like it.
And now some street art images recently shot – our weekly interview with the street, this week featuring Almost Over Keep Smiling, Antennae, Damon NYC, JKos Art, Little Ricky, Raw, Stikman, and Urban Russian Doll NYC.
Here’s our weekly interview with the streets, this week featuring Almost Over Keep Smiling, Billy Barnacles, Gianni Lee, City Kitty, CRKSHNK, Early Riser NYC, Seven Line Arts Studio, M*Code, Ori Carino, Sticker Maul, Turtle Caps, Urban Russian Doll NYC, and You Go Girl!