All posts tagged: Wheat paste

Black Panthers and Political Street Art from the 60s to Today

Black Panthers and Political Street Art from the 60s to Today

Amidst the hype surrounding the new Black Panther movie breaking records in theaters, we’re reminded by New York-based writer, photographer and documentarian Camilo José Vergara on City Lab that the people-powered revolutionary socialist organization Black Panther Party were superheroes on the streets of US cities who used art in the Streets to advance social and political goals.

Wheat-pasting political posters in the 90s “There is a Black Panther born in the ghetto every 20 minutes,” Former Brooks Bakery, 113 East 125th St., Harlem, 1995. (photo ©Camilo José Vergara)

“I was able to survey Black Panthers’ street graphics from the high point of the early 1970s, when they stood for black beauty, a respect for their African roots, anger at the police, self defense, and public service, all while exhibiting a unique style,” says the award winning Vergara  in this new photo essay of works on the streets about the Panthers. “They had moral authority as they risked their lives resisting arrest, taking over buildings, feeding children, and marching. Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Black Panther Party opposed the Vietnam War. But unlike him, the Panthers advocated self defense and demanded reparations for centuries of slave labor. ”

Read more in “The Black Panther Party’s History of Urban Street Art” here.

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El Sol 25 and Hannah Höch – “Persons of Interest”

El Sol 25 and Hannah Höch – “Persons of Interest”


BSA is in Berlin this month to present a new show of 12 important Brooklyn Street Artists at the Urban Nation haus as part of Project M/7. PERSONS OF INTEREST brings to our sister city a diverse collection of artists who use many mediums and styles in the street art scene of Brooklyn. By way of tribute to the special relationship that artist communities in both cities have shared for decades, each artist has chosen to create a portrait of a Germany-based cultural influencer from the past or present, highlighting someone who has played a role in inspiring the artist in a meaningful way.
Today we talk to El Sol 25 and ask him why he chose his person of interest, Hannah Höch.

A collage artist who often creates paintings of his original cut compositions and wheat-pastes them onto walls, El Sol 25 has been entertaining and perplexing passersby on the street with his theater of the absurd for the last half decade in New York.  Considered part of the new breed of Street Artists who are breaking conventions, for this show El Sol 25 looks back to a Berlin rebel and one of the most important collage artists of the 20th Century, Hannah Höch, for inspiration and as tribute.

Indeed there are many similarities in the works of both; a true fragmentation of elements that reflects a chaotic aspect of current society, an embracing of diversity and abstraction, the questioning of gender constructions, even the inclusion of elements that may have shown in Höch’s fictional “ethnographic museum”.  Where Höch was a singular woman in a Dada movement dominated by men, the former graff writer El Sol 25 has steadily constructed his unusual oeuvre in a sometimes sea of Street Art sameness.

El Sol 25 is creating a portrait of Höch for PERSONS OF INTEREST because she proved to be a leader and because he admires her different standards of composition and beauty. “She’s one of my all time favorites and also a native German so I really wanted to pay my respect by painting her portrait,” he says. “She was a key innovator in the original Dada movement and her collages are the strongest I’ve ever seen.”

Then he adds, “She is my hero for many reasons.”


A piece by El Sol 25 (photo © Jaime Rojo)



El Sol 25 in Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Check out the Facebook page for PERSONS OF INTEREST

See Full Press Release HERE

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A Chicago Humorist Named “Dont Fret” Cracks Up The Street

A Chicago Humorist Named “Dont Fret” Cracks Up The Street

Oh, so you’re a comedian now hah? A real funny boy hah?

Art on the streets is not always neatly folded into archetypes. Street Artists and graffiti writers are not all anti-social miscreants intent on running afoul of the law, although that is a satisfying and simple characterization some critics default to.



Don’t Fret (photo © Jaime Rojo)

In truth, these days there are a variety of voices in the conversation on the street. Some are social commentators, others are anarchists, showmen, activists, nihilists, narcissists, dreamers, storytellers, poets.

Then there are the comedians. We’ve noticed that a surprising number of them come from Chicago. Possibly the harsh winters in that windy city turns people silly on the street. Among the funniest Chi-town hoodlums we’ve seen are Left-Handed Wave, Nice One, and of course the incorrigible Goons.


Don’t Fret (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Add to this list the humorist human Don’t Fret, who knows how to depict us in all our eclectic and imperfect wonder without passing judgment but causing a cryptic cackle of recognition when you run into him. It’s a sophisticated comedian who knows how to pull off common scenes with an insider wink. It’s not that you know his people personally – wait, that is exactly what it is like. Even when he is just using text to describe a person, you know the people he’s referring to because they live in your neighborhood, cook your Halal street meats, coach little league, cook your books, are at your family barbecue.


Don’t Fret (photo © Jaime Rojo)

To quote ourselves when we talked about Don’t Fret last year “His acute eyes and poignant observations as an artist enable him to put everyday pedestrians on the wall for everyday pedestrians to look at.  He captures what he sees and transfers his musings into wittily drawn characters that are hand colored and wheat pasted.

More acute than ever, Don’t Fret was recently in New York and we caught the jokes he was pitching. Ready?


Don’t Fret (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Don’t Fret (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Don’t Fret (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Don’t Fret (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Don’t Fret (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Don’t Fret (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Don’t Fret (photo © Jaime Rojo)


Don’t Fret (photo © Jaime Rojo)



Please note: All content including images and text are ©, 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!
This article is also published on The Huffington Post
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QRST on the Streets; Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Goat Man Cometh

Street Artist QRST is back on Brooklyn streets with more modernly magnetic and captivatingly surreal work than before, and just as mired in the muck of human dynamics as ever. 

Emblematic of the new street art storytelling practice we have been highlighting for a few years now, these uniquely old-fangled pieces are one-off bits of mastery that can take days, sometimes weeks, to sketch, draw, and paint before they are wheat-pasted onto street walls for a certainly uncertain future. In fact, when reached for comment on these new street pieces, the artist tells us that we missed one entirely because it was torn down the very night that it went up. Thankfully, the artist could provide a couple of studio images of the short-fated painting.

Aside from compelling imagery, saturated hues and a greater modeling of dimension, texture, and material in the new work, the near crushing weight of these paper-thin pieces comes from the personal stories that motivate them. Unsurprisingly, much of the work of an artist is autobiographical – in fact one could argue that all art is, whether it is fiction writing, stand up comedy, painting, or architecture.

QRST “Flotsam and Jetsam A” (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We spoke with QRST about the works and find that some of the personalities and issues he is addressing are so contemporary and specific that they amount to a call-out of a few people publicly. While the artist can be sharply descriptive of the individuals and relationships at play at the center of these stories, he’s trying to take a more universalist approach to the themes, for now.  And you wouldn’t want to pry, would you?

“I wasn’t really planning on divulging exactly why they are what they are, as the ideas in the paintings aren’t really flattering,” says the artist, as he recounts relationships falling apart, friendships going up in smoke, and people “standing in piles of wreckage, surrounded by and covered in symbols for the less laudable traits that people tend to present in these sorts of situations.”

QRST “Flotsam and Jetsam A”. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As diplomatic as he aims for in his recounting of their creation, these symbols wield their own power, and his work continues to reference the historical, modern, and personal interpretation of their meanings for his integrative interactions of peculiarity.  “The crocodiles are there for their tears,” he explains as the litany begins it’s roll, “They’re also monsters climbing through wreckage – they live in the murk and strike when you aren’t ready,” he continues, “they’re cold blooded and concerned only with their own affairs (which seem to be eating and lurking in the mire).”

QRST “Flotsam and Jetsam A”. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

As he describes the work you can feel the turbulent emotions washing over the newly dried paintings, now carefully cut out and wheat-pasted on public walls for the average passerby to gaze upon. “Similarly the praying mantis is a dangerous eating machine that even kills and eats its mate.  Both are cold, unfeeling, and impossible to reason with. They take. The buffalo are stubborn – in many situations a water buffalo is a symbol of loyalty, which sickens into stubbornness, stubbornness beyond reason,” he says as he winds out the list of animal players, “The buffalo is accompanied by the birds; one cawing, nagging, incessant, the other aloof.”

While you may know your local Street Artist, the majority prefer to stay anonymous and the nature of the act of hitting and running means that you won’t get an explanatory placard nearby and the meaning of the work is not always evident on its face, even when it is in yours.  While some of the new crop is moving to refract their work through a cubist prism today on the street, another few are becoming more hand hewn and focused, precise in their sentiment and personal.

As graffiti and public murals and advertising and Street Art have continued their dance together over the last few decades, the street has been a stage for public airing of the political and the personal. Where a relatively new artist like QRST is concerned, his intentions will always be up to your interpretation and can be as general as you like, even while he is feeling fairly specific. “The meaning I’m hanging on them is esoteric and personal to me in such a way that others are going to take what they need from it. This might be something completely different, which I like quite a bit.”

The companion piece of the piece above was taken down from the street, still wet and under the cover of the night before we got to it. The artist sent us two detailed images of it, shown below while still in production at his studio.

QRST “Flotsam and Jetsam B” Detail. (photo © QRST)

QRST “Flotsam and Jetsam B” (photo © QRST)

The Goat Man Cometh

A third piece from QRST arrived recently as well, an image of a ram and man merged, sitting in a yoga stance upon the opened blossom of what may be a large lotus flower. He says it’s difficult to talk about mainly because,  “I don’t think I’ve totally figured out what it’s about.” The comment reveals another part of the QRST process, which he sometimes has described as being subconscious, the discovery of its meaning coming after its completion. But this much he knows, “It comes partly from an urban legend from around where I grew up, that probably exists in a number of places, about a Goat Man that haunts a giant train bridge,” he says as he recalls the story. “In the mis-spent portion of my youth a few of my friends and I spent a fair amount of time thinking about the Goat Man. We left him cigarettes under his bridge,” he says with a sort of revelatory glee.

QRST. Untitled. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

He muses about the possible meanings – an imperfect patron, a flawed protector, even a deity. “I’m starting to feel like I’m talking about God here, but I assure you I’m not.” Finally, he settles on his own interpretation of the figure and lets you figure of the rest of the symbols. “The Goat Man was our patron of ‘getting away with shit we shouldn’t have been doing’.”  The glass case of cardinals, the lantern, the three arms, or why he is riding a lotus? It’s up to you.

“I think there’s also a joke in there someplace, but it’s probably only funny to me.”

QRST. Untitled. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

QRST. Untitled. Detail. (photo © Jaime Rojo)



Please note: All content including images and text are ©, 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!


This article is also published on Huffington Post Arts & Culture


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FKDL and His Vintage Glamour Women

New Wall Celebrates Audrey Hepburn for her May 4 birthday in the Brussells district she was born in. Liz Taylor is her special guest.

There are many references to pop culture, movies, fashion, and celebrity that have appeared in Street Art in the last decade or so, thanks to our full immersion in the National Entertainment State. We always say that the street reflects us back to ourselves, and apparently we are fixated on poised prettitude, at least in some cities. From Street Artists like DAIN to Judith Supine to Faile to The Dude Company, Tian, Aiko, TooFly and myriad anonymous stencillists, you are bound to see depictions of glamorous women and in a variety of archetypes popping up on walls and doorways no matter the year.

FKDL “Breakfast at Ixelles”. Brussels, Beligium. (photo © FKDL)

Parisian Street Artist FKDL reliably returns to his wheelhouse of the 1950s and 60s when he looks for images of idealized females.  Even his silhouettes of graceful and lithe dancing figures will remind you of the 2-D animations of opening credits of Hollywood movies from the golden age, the hip early years of television, beatniks in tight turtleneck sweaters reading poems, and swinging chicks on the cover art from long-playing jazz albums.  As a “fill” to his forms, he often pastes in an actual collage of vintage commercial illustrations that he cut from magazines and dress making pattern envelopes.  Clearly his is a romance with an image of female beauty from an earlier time and he reliably visits it again and again in his work on the streets of Europe and New York.

FKDL “Breakfast at Ixelles”. Brussels, Beligium. (photo © FKDL)

So it is no surprise that last week when FKDL was in the Ixelles district in Brussels he found a lone façade wall on an empty lot that faces the street and was compelled to paint a tribute to the cinema icon Audrey Hepburn, born there 84 years ago this Saturday. “Breakfast at Ixelles” refers to the location and her most famous movie, set in New York, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  While doing the wall he decided to also pay tribute to another screen grand dame Elizabeth Taylor. The 30 foot wall uses his distinctive collage style and the paint colors are associated with the flag of Belgium.

FKDL “Breakfast at Ixelles”. Brussels, Beligium. (photo © FKDL)

FKDL “Breakfast at Ixelles”. Brussels, Beligium. (photo © FKDL)

FKDL in New York (photo © Jaime Rojo)

FKDL (detail) in Brooklyn (photo © Jaime Rojo)

FKDL next to DAIN in Brooklyn (photo © Jaime Rojo)

FKDL in Brooklyn (photo © Jaime Rojo)




Please note: All content including images and text are ©, 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!


This posting is also on Huffington Post Arts & Culture.

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Street Artist Gaia Creates a Memorial Unexpectedly


Street Artist Gaia just had an unexpected encounter with grief and memory after putting up one of his carrier pigeons on a fire damaged house. He was in Miami to paint a collaborative mural with 131 Projects honoring outsider artist Purvis Young at the Bakehouse studio complex.

While painting his mural he broke away to adorn the entrance of the house with a wheat-paste of his bird-in-hand, a linotype print that has appeared in neglected areas a number of times. The image, out of place and temporary, can suddenly bring a neglected place alive. Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of the elements, the symbolism of this hand made bird traditionally trained to carry and deliver messages.Brooklyn-Street-Art-Gaia-Miami-Sept-2011-3

The following day while he continued working on his mural, he looked across the street to see someone on the property gazing at the bird quietly, then raising her arms to take a photo. His curiosity was peaked. Later, the story took a little turn.

“While painting in the evening I was approached by two women looking for who was responsible for the new piece on the house. After admitting culpability, they divulged to me that their brother had burned to death on the premises, and that they thought the carrier pigeon in the hand was a sign of his passing,” Gaia says as he talks with some wonder about this sudden interaction with people whose lives are so connected to the building.


On the one hand, it is amazing that someone is so affected by the appearance of something we recognize as a simple piece of street art. But when you think about our sense of place, the history and memories associated with it can be powerful. Sometimes when you are in so much grief and you are crying out for solace, you look for something, anything to comfort yourself. To see this image on such a scale, on the front of a burned house where your loved one died must have seemed like a sign from God. And truthfully, who is to say that it was not a sign from God, with artist as messenger?

“Their gratitude was something unexpected,” Gaia says as relates the story with a little shock, and possibly re-consideration of the impact his work can have. Upon reflection, the Street Artist says he is satisfied with the experience meeting the two new friends and his practice of placing his temporary works in places like this, concluding that the story is “a small, but powerful case for street art.”


(original images courtesy and © of the artist)
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Crunch Crunch Crunch, Saturday Cartoons with Bortusk Leer

Since it’s Saturday and you are still in your pajamas and on your third bowl of sugar coated vampire cookie cereal, here’s a look at Bortusk Leers cartoons.  The Street Artist has a whole posse of monsters and characters that splurp and plop and zing out of his imagination onto sheets of old newspaper with a child’s paint brush and florescent non-toxic paint that is safe to eat.

Bortusk Leer (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

The wheatpastes on New York streets look so guileless and unaffected that you might also think his work is simple and unstudied.  Truth is Bortusk is deliberate in his depictions of their crazy disproportions and he likes to poke fun at his creatures and play with the viewer.  Luckily for the artist and kids, he also learned how to animate his monsters and his inventive short stories have an audience on TV and the web too.

Bortusk Leer (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

Bortusk Leer (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Fun Friday 11.05.10


Fun Friday 11.05.10

C215 Prepares for “Community Service”: New Show and Book

“Painting in the streets puts limits on you, as far as the number of colours you can bring with you, how much time you have to paint, and even the subject matter since I like to put a link between the stencils I paint and the context around where I paint them.”

C215 speaks about his process, his travels, and his new book that features street images from our own Jaime Rojo and an introduction from our editor.  More from the interview with Ripo on No New Enemies.


Aakash Nihilani at Bose Pacia Gallery

Aakash has been riding that tape into the gallery – including this homage to Jeff Koons.  Says the gallery for the “Overlap” show that opened last night, “The common denominator of all works in the exhibition is the overlapping of isometric square shapes to create new forms that move towards figurative representation.”

Bose Pacia Gallery.

Photo courtesy Bose Pacia



The celebrated Street Artist from Brooklyn talks about her approach to her work, and how it continues to evolve.

Invader Accused of Stealing Cow


This courtesy of, apparently Street Artist Invader has a sidebuster called Id-iom. Invader’s iconic digital spaceship had a rather close encounter of the bovine kind on the street recently.

Read more HERE.

Image courtesy

Nick Walker “In Gods We Trust”

This new video from Nick Walker in an interview at the opening of his current show at Art Sensus Gallery contains two of the pieces he did first with us this summer on a some walls BSA secured for him in The People’s Republic of Brooklyn.  The pieces also look great in the gallery, but the time hanging out with this talented and down-to-earth Street Artist was stellar and a really nice memory for summer 2010.

Nick Walker
Nick Walker in Brooklyn with BSA (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Nick Walker. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)
Nick Walker in front of “Amerikarma” in Brooklyn. Summer 2010. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

The BSA Banner when Nick was here. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
The BSA Banner when Nick was here. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Our 3 postings on Nick that week

“Yes on 19”

An earnest text-based approach to Street Art, this duo treats their work more like Public Service Announcement than Street Art.  The messages posted are in support of Proposition 19, a referendum to legalize use of marijuana this past Tuesday in California, which was voted against by 53.9% of the populace.

Interestingly, the first part of the video is a primer on how to make fresh wheat paste in your kitchen. Suddenly BSA is the cooking channel!

Saber, Shepard Fairey and American Pride


From the West Coast, where smoking pot is still illegal without a doctor’s prescription, Shepard Fairey posted excellent photos by Todd Mazer of a big mural he and Saber recently completed for a project with a name that sounds kind of familiar.

“Saber and I have been friends for over 10 years and previously collaborated on the Brooklyn Projects wall on Sunset in Echo Park. We also both recently coincidentally made art inspired by the American flag,” says Fairey.

Read more on the Obey Giant site

Love Letters- Marriage Proposal in Philly

Street Artist Stephen Powers aka ESPO sends this video of an amorous train trip along the same elevated line that affords riders a birds-eye view of his “Love Letters” project in Philadelphia. On the way, the Beatles get involved, and we all start to cry.

Here’s the new video for the next chapter in adoration; Love Letters Syracuse, in a mid-sized city in the center of New York State.

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NohJColey Advances The New Guard of Street Art

Street Artist NohJColey keeps bringing it, even if you don’t know what “it” is.

The quality of line and rendering continues in this 12′ x 8′ large metaphor that incorporates a human figure with other symbols of explosives in some sort of race against time.  If the missing fingers are any indication of this guy’s safety record, you may want to run.

NohJColey "Kleptomaniac" (Photo © Jaime Rojo)
NohJColey (Photo © Jaime Rojo)

An entirely hand painted wheat-paste of this size is fairly rare in a street art vernacular that looks increasingly mass produced, but a small number of the new generation are distinguishing themselves from the pack in this way – QRST, Gaia, Cake, Over Under, and others come to mind. This is not simply a linotype that’s been inked and printed – there is only one of these and yet a strong rainstorm could crumple it.  It’s fragility in a hostile street environment makes it even more curious, and makes the viewer feel like they have experienced something individual, impermanent, irreplicable.

NohJColey (Detail) (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Thematically, this Street Artist never makes it easy for you. His pieces can feel like a frustrating riddle, but the level of industry shows that he’s not simply doodling; there is a message or two or five – maybe intended only for the artist.  But in the street art world messages are often shrouded and left for you to determine. Even one of Street Art’s older relatives, graffiti, can be so stylized that only the writers’ peers can decode it.  Ah, well. When it comes to the work of NohJColey, we’ll keep listening.

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