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Ever on a mission, East London-based artist Annie Nicholson aka Fandangoe Kid has been busy here in New York City. Last week, I had the opportunity to meet up with her in Red Hook, Brooklyn at the site of her De-Construkt residency.

When did you first become interested in sharing your messages in public spaces?

Back in 2005 — when I was studying film and visual arts in Paris — I began leaving text messages on friends’ doorsteps. My artwork has always been narrative-driven.

Your current projects generally reference your family members. Can you tell us something about that? 

In 2011, my mother and sister were killed in a crash. Their bodies landed in the East River. Nothing has been the same since. For several years I was totally derailed. Sharing my thoughts in the public sphere and working with young people have kept me alive. My public messages are, also, my means to remove the stigma that exists around loss and mental health.

How have folks responded to seeing your text messages reflecting your very private — often deeply painful — reflections on your losses?

Many have approached me and shared with me stories of their own losses and vulnerabilities. It is part of their healing process, as well as mine.

And working with youth is wonderfully therapeutic — as I know! How did you connect with the young people with whom you work?

I’ve actually worked in art education for over 10 years — from the Tate Modern to the British Film Institute. And then four years ago, I began working with traumatised young people in a program I’d launched at the Hackney New School using the arts as a means to understand and share their stories more effectively.

Are there any particular artists who inspired or influenced your particular text-driven aesthetic?

Steve Powers — certainly! He is one of my favorite artists working in this genre and a huge inspiration. Others include: Jenny Holzer, Barbara Krueger and Camille Walala.

What brought you here to New York City?

For six years — since the loss of of my sister and mother here in New York City — this city has been hanging over me. I felt the need to spend some time here. And Laura Arena, who offers residencies in Red Hook to artists from all over the world, has given me the opportunity to do so.

Why the streets? Why do you primarily utilize the streets to transmit your messages?

I like the visibility that the streets offer. My messages are easily accessed on the streets, especially by young people.

What’s ahead?

I will be returning to NYC in the fall with plans to install large-scale works in more permanent public sites to create a platform for dialog.

Good luck with it all!

Photo credits: 1, 3 & 6 courtesy of the artist; 2, 4 & 5 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to meet up with Poornima Sukumar. A muralist and community artist based in India, she is the founder and director of  the Aravani Art Project, a collective that creates spaces for people from the transgender community to connect with other communities and cultures in their local neighborhoods. In July 2016, Poornima was invited to present the Aravani Art Project at the Global Youth Forum, and she was hosted by the World Bank as a panellist for the LGBTQIA+ discussion in Washington DC. She is also a TEDx speaker.

What is the mission of the Aravani Art Project? Can you tell us a bit about it?

It aims to create a collective space for people from the transgender community by engaging them in public art and other interventions. We are interested in providing opportunities for members of the transgender community to collaborate with artists, photographers, filmmakers and general members of society to voice issues and engage in dialogues. We want to help society see people from the transgender community in a new light. We also make an effort to become invested in their personal lives. We look out for them just as we would look out for our own friends. The projects are completely built on trust and friendship, and friends always look out for each other! We are intent, in fact, on providing members of the transgender community with access to health care, as well as the skills they need to procure jobs.

When was it started? And why?

It began in January, 2016. After 3 ½ years of working on a film about the transgender community in India and making close friends among members of that community, I wanted to remain involved.  I was concerned about the violence and the prejudice that so many of them encounter. I felt the need to bridge the gap between  members of the their community and society, at large.

Who are some of the other folks who have worked with you in implementing your mission?

Among them are: Sadhna Prasad, who serves as the project’s art director; trans leaders Shanthi Sonu and Priyanka Divaakar and trans artists Chandri and Purushi.

About how many people has the Aravani Art Project engaged so far?

Since the project began in 2016, we’ve engaged over 1,000 folks in 25 projects.

How have you made these opportunities for collaboration and exchange happen? That’s quite an impressive number of projects.

As a muralist and illustrator, I know many artists. We’ve also received commisions. This past year, Facebook, in fact, invited us to their office in San Francisco.

How has the general community responded to the Aravani Art Project?

Very beautifully – folks open up to us slowly, and, organically, folks want to connect.

And what about the name Aravani? What is its significance?

The term Aravani means a person who worships Lord Aravan, the patron God of the transgenders.

What’s ahead?

We are looking to forge more collaborations internationally and reach out to more communities whose voices remain unheard. We are planning two projects abroad and five in India. We are always seeking visibility.

How can folks become engaged in your projects?

We are eager to engage all folks — straight, gay, transgender — in implementing our projects. And if you are interested in becoming involved, you can write to us here.

That sounds great! And we look forward to seeing you back in NYC with the Aravani Art Project!

Interview by Lois Stavsky with Bonnie Astor; all photos courtesy the Aravani Art Project

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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A huge sticker fan, I first discovered iwillnot‘s stickers almost a decade ago while combing the streets of DC in search of striking street art. Soon afterwards, I met him and was struck by not only his outstanding aesthetic sensibility, but his huge passion for stickers and its wonderfully democratic collective culture.

In his recently released and hugely popular book, Smashed: The Art of the Sticker Combo, iwillnot shares not only his story, but provides us with tremendous insights into the entire sticker culture.

Intent on trading his stickers with other sticker artists, iwillnot had early on established a network of artists to exchange sticker packs. He was soon installing sticker combos in cities throughout the East Coast. And in 2011, he began to envision “smashing an art gallery in a major city with thousands and thousands of stickers.” Smashed: The Art of the Sticker Combo documents the realization of this dream.

With the support of street art enthusiast and Fridge Gallery founder and curator Alex Goldstein, iwillnot curated a 12.5 feet tall by 20 feet wide 10,000 sticker installation in 2013. By 2016, the entire gallery was smashed with hundreds of thousands of stickers, representing over 500 artists from 15 countries. The 2016 DC Street Sticker Expo reached over three million people.

With dozens of photographs documenting it all, Smashed: The Art of the Sticker Combo is certain to appeal to all of us sticker art fans and street art aficionados. The book can be purchased through Amazon or directly from the author here. And if you would like to participate in this year’s DC Street Sticker Expo, you still can!

All images courtesy iwillnotthe third image features — Foes, Mr Say, Skam, Sore Infest (top) RX Skulls, Obit, Who, and Ride (bottom); book reviewed by Lois Stavsky

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This past Saturday, Green Villain and Writer’s Bench  hosted a buoyant block party at the site of the former 2015 landmark Demolition Exhibition. The hundreds of folks who attended the massive celebration were treated to live painting and music, along with food provided by local vendors. Pictured above is Newark-based Mr. Mustart. What follows are several more images captured Saturday by David Sharabani aka Lord K2.

The legendary Bronx native Skeme aka 3 Yard King at work

On the scene with Skeme aka 3 Yard King’s work in progress

Philly-based Mecro at work

Jersey City-based 4Saken painting with Molly posing

Blackbook signing

NYC-based classic writer Mone TFP

NYC-based graffiti pioneer Curve at work

Young artist takes a break

Photos by David Sharabani aka Lord K2.

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Brilliantly countering any claims that feminism is dead and that the Hip-Hop culture “is detrimental to women and girls,” Jessica Nydia Pabón-Colón has written an impeccably researched study of the grrls who have paved their way into the predominantly male graffiti culture, claiming their own space.

Based on interviews conducted with over 100 graffiti grrls across the globe over the span of 15 years, the author, now an Assistant Professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at SUNY New Paltz, provides us with a window into the minds, practices and experiences of a wide range of female writers crossing cultures and generations.

Among the many assumptions and false claims female writers often have to contend with are that they are writing graffiti to get noticed by guys or doing it to make their boyfriends happy. Or that they aren’t writing at all; it’s their boyfriends who are doing it for them. Rumors, too, regarding their sexual promiscuity are rife.

And yet, for various reasons, many are reluctant to identify as “feminists,” a term too often associated with man-haters. Pabón-Colón relates how when she first asked the famed bomber, Miss 17, if she was a feminist, her immediate response was a brusque, “No.” Five years later – in 2009 – Miss 17  had tempered her views, largely due to the friendships that she had developed with the likes of Claw Money and the author, herself.

Throughout Graffiti Grrlz: Performing Feminism in the Hip Hop Diaspora, the author convincingly advances both feminism and graffiti as positive and vital social and political forces. Australian artist Ivey, for example, recounts the pride she feels on seeing her tag up and credits the graffiti culture with helping her get through difficult times and motivating her to pursue her education after graduating from high school.

Whether of not graffiti grrls identify themselves as feminists or perceive themselves as political, Pabon-Colon compellingly affirms that their “performances of feminist masculinity” merge the fundamental social, cultural and aesthetic aspects of Hip-Hop culture with the feminist movement

Published by New York University Press, Graffiti Grrlz is the first academic study on women’s participation within the graffiti subculture. Appended with examples of black book pages, comprehensive notes and an extensive bibliography. Pabón-Colón’s work is a rich tribute to the grrls whose voices are too often silenced and a gift to all of us who love graffiti, perhaps the most significant art movement of our time.

You can order the book directly from the author with a special discount here. And follow news of her readings and signings here.

Note: The third image features NYC native Abby and the final one features London-based Chock painting in the Bronx.

Images courtesy of the author; book review by Lois Stavsky

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Opening this Wednesday evening. July 25, from 6-9pm at GR Gallery at 250 Bowery is “Super Matter,” a solo exhibition featuring new works fashioned collaboratively by Simon Grendene and Victor Anselmi, known to us street art aficionados as ASVP.  Segments of recognizable icons, reimagined as shapes of expressive energy, mesmerize the viewer with their dynamic strokes and bold contours. The tantalizing image featured above was fashioned on wood.  A small sampling of additional works from the upcoming exhibit follow:

On canvas

On wood panel

And on a similar vein to their mural art that surfaced a few months back on the Lower East Side

Images courtesy GR Gallery

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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17 Frost Gallery — Brooklyn’s widely impressive hub of “community, camaraderie and collaboration” — is back! And to celebrate its renovation and expansion that began in January 2017, when it closed its doors to the general public, it is hosting WELCOME BACK, ON TRACK this Saturday evening from 7-11pm.

A rebirth of sorts, WELCOME BACK, ON TRACK, features dozens of artists working in a range of media representing contemporary art, street art and graffiti genres.  While 17 Frost Gallery had previously presented monthly solo and group shows, it is now gearing towards exhibiting pop-up shows, with artists encouraged to present new works.

All are invited to celebrate 17 Frost Gallery‘s “rebirth” this Saturday evening. Among the dozens of artists in this premier exhibit — curated by Ellis Gallagher — are such modern legends as Al DiazCope2, Eric Orr, UFO97 and Cost.

With DJ Choice Royce, music and Brooklyn Gin, libations

Featured images

1 EKG

2 Alex Itin

3 Close-up from collaborative work by Cabaio Spirito, rené, Alex Itin and netism

Photos courtesy Ellis Gallagher

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Celebrated across the globe for his inventive stencil art, Joe Iurato continues to inspire and delight us with his innovatively conceived  and beautifully executed artwork. On exhibit at Castle Fitzjohns through this week is “Bottles + Cans,” an exhibition of new works, along with a life-size instillation of a Bistro. Pictured above is Modern Love (Sunset), 2018 spray paint on wood cut out, reclaimed wood. Several more images captured at the exhibit follow:

He Was Here a Second Ago, 2018 spray paint on wood cut out, reclaimed wood

It’s All Downhill From Here, 2018 spray paint on wood cut out, reclaimed wood

Watering Can (Peace), 2018 spray paint on wood cut out, reclaimed wood

Street Stories and Rhymes, 2018 spray paint on wood cut out, reclaimed wood

James ‘right to sing the blues, 2018 spray paint on wood cut out, reclaimed wood

Installation, Bottles + Cans, mixed media

Castle Fitzjohns is located at 98 Orchard Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Conceived and curated by LA based artist and author Nathan Spoor, Suggestivism: Resonance is a wondrous journey into the surreal. Featuring over 50 artists with distinct visions of alternative realities, it opens tomorrow, Saturday, July 7, at Spoke-Art NYC and continues through July 28th, The image above, Nature of Mind,  is the work of Barcelona-based Argentine artist, Peca. Several more images featured in Suggestivism: Resonance follow–

Michigan-based fine artist Dan May, Winter Road

UK-based illustrator Miles Johnston, Solace

Renowned LA-based artist Audrey Kawasaki, Ohana

Colorado-based illustrator and tattoo artist Marisa Aragón Ware, Metamorphosis

And exhibit curator Nathan SpoorPremonition

In conjunction with the exhibition, a coffee table art book titled Suggestivism: Resonance will be released. Spoke-Art NYC will be hosting a book signing with Nathan Spoor and many of the participating artists from 4 – 6pm prior to the exhibition opening. The gallery is located at 210 Rivington Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Photos courtesy Spoke NYC

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Brimming with exuberant energy and stylishly striking images, HIGH & TIGHT, LA2‘s solo exhibition, is a cause for celebration.  Proclaimed by Keith Haring — with whom he had collaborated in the 80’s — as the “Graffiti King of the Lower East Side,” LA2 is tighter than ever. Pictured above is LA2 standing next to the exhibit’s curator and gallerist, Jonathan Satin. Several more images captured while I visited the space at 198 Allen Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side follow:

Installation of several canvases, sneakers, skateboard deck and more 

 

Several more artworks and memorabilia reminiscent of LA2’s collaborations with Keith Haring

Canvases, repurposed traffic sign, skateboard deck, guitar and collaboration with London-based Stik

 

You can join LA2 tonight — from 8-11pm — at 198 Allen Street. He promises “live painting and dancing” in celebration of Independence Day. And through Sunday’s 5pm closing, the space is open every day from 12-8pm

Photos: Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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