contemporary art

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Jason Mamarella, as he readies for today’s print release and his upcoming exhibition at the Living Gallery Outpost.

When I first started exploring NYC’s streets in pursuit of street art —  well over a decade ago — I saw your now-iconic character, dint wooer krsna, everywhere! He was one of the most prolific images around town. He has since been featured in over two dozen books and has made his way onto a range of media including the opening scene of Exit Through the Gift Shop. You’d once told me that dint wooer krsna was conceived as your online identity at about the same time that MySpace was born.

Yes! It was online before it was on the streets. I did not want to reveal who I was. It was critical that my identity remain hidden at that time.  Someone had threatened to shoot me over a woman, and I had reason to believe he was quite serious.

What about the name krsna?  I’ve always wondered about it.

It’s a reference to Hare Krishna. I used to hang out in Hare Krishna temples. The Hindu God Krishna was a vegetarian — as I am. He was a friend of the cow.

What motivated you to hit the streets with dint wooer krsna

I was newly divorced, and I needed to get out of the house. I’d been tagging for years — since I was a teen — but I wanted my character to stand out. krsna was my first wheatpaste.

Have you ever been arrested?

I’ve been arrested three times for vandalism. The first was in 1993 at an after-party at Ferry Point Park. Together with Aones WTO, Kech & James “V.E.” Conte, R.I.P,  I was caught tagging the Bronx Whitestone Bridge. The penalty was  community service and five years ACD. Then in 2008, I was caught and identified online for getting stencils up in Hoboken. After nine summonses, a judge yelled at me for 20 minutes. Nothing more. But I had to pay $3,000 to have a lawyer stand next to me in court. And in 2010, an undercover grabbed me on 2nd Avenue in the East Village for two stickers I’d put up. The cop told me that I was responsible for bringing kids into this “degenerate lifestyle,” and he called the Vandal Squad.

Had you any particular influences? 

James “V.E.” Conte, R.I.P. He got up everywhere. He was obsessive compulsive. I modeled myself on him — trying to get up as much and as often as I possibly could.

For several years you were largely absent from the streets.

Yes, in 2013, I began focusing, almost exclusively, on my studio work.

So what brought you back?

I guess it was always in me. It was just dormant for awhile.

How has the street art scene changed since you first hit the streets with dint wooer krsna?

Just about everything after 2010 is irrelevant; it’s all about legal permission spots. Much of it is devoid of any originality or intellectual merit.

What — do you suppose — is responsible for this change?

Projects like The Bowery Wall and the film Exit Through the Gift Shop have pushed street art so much into the mainstream that it has become trendy. People just want to hop onto the bandwagon.

Yes. It’s certainly lost its subversive appeal to those of us who were initially drawn to that aspect of it. How has your art evolved over time?

I’m leaning more towards abstraction.

You have a new hand-embellished print, Jibb Wibbles, about to be released. I know that your first three prints sold out quickly. How can folks get hold of this new one?

It’s available from House of Roulx at this link. All proceeds will go to benefit Little Wanderers, a non-profit that rescues needy cats.

And can you tell us something about your upcoming exhibit at the Living Gallery Outpost?

I will be showing my new paintings from noon to 9pm on the weekend of June 15th and 16th. They’re dark.

That should be interesting! I’m looking forward to seeing them all!

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1 Katherine Zavartkay; 2 Lois Stavsky, 2011, East Village; 3-5 courtesy of the artist

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Inaugurating its New York space with a sprawling, hugely impressive exhibition of a broad range of works by the late Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Brant Foundation has brought the spirit of the legendary artist back to the East Village. Curated by Brant Foundation founder Peter M. Brant with Basquiat scholar Dieter Buchhart and organized in collaboration with the Fondation Louis Vuitton, the exhibition, itself, is a cause for celebration. The image featured above, “Untitled,” was fashioned by the artist in 1981 with acrylic, oilstick, and spray paint on wood, A few more images featuring Basquiat’s raw and largely irreverent aesthetic, captured at this splendid exhibition, follow:

Museum Security (Broadway Meltdown), Acrylic, oilstick and paper collage on canvas, 1983

Big ShoesAcrylic, oilstick and collage on canvas, 1983

Hollywood Africans, Acrylic and oilstick on canvas, 1983

Irony of a Negro Policeman, Acrylic and lipstick on wood, 1981

Arroz con Pollo, Acrylic and oilstick on canvas, 1981

Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump, Acrylic on canvas, 1982

The exhibition continues at the Brant Foundation, 421 East Sixth Street, through May 15. Although admission is free, reservations are necessary.

Photos of images 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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In what is certain to be the Living Installation show of the year, Jadda Cat becomes our country’s first female President replacing our current toxic one. With scored music created by the inimitable Michael Alan Alien, the talented Jadda will morph into various living sculptures — using every material she can find — as she shares her wisdom with us. All will be on view both in Michael’s Bushwick studio and online tomorrow — Saturday evening — from 8pm to midnight. Ticket information is available here.

Scenes from recent Living Installations

And a sample of Michael’s ingeniously conceived and executed visionary artwork

All images courtesy Michael Alan

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Continuing through April 28th at Hashimoto Contemporary on Manhattan’s Lower East Side is “Spotlight: Stencil,” a thoroughly delightful exhibition featuring a range of works by several outstanding artists celebrated for their stylish stencil art. Pictured above is the work of multidisciplinary artist Joe Iurato, whose infectious aesthetic has graced many public spaces here in NYC and beyond. Several more images from “Spotlight: Stencil,” follow:

UK-based muralist and  screenprinter Eelus, The Great Unknown, Aerosol  and silver leaf on panel

UK-based PennyIllusions of Grandeur, 2 layer hand-cut stencil, spray painted onto a 10 Pound note

Colorado-born Mando Marie, Been Both Ways, Acrylic and aerosol on paper

Austro-French duo Jana & JS, La Femme Aux Fleurs, Acrylic, spray paint and stencil on wood assemblage

Anonymous French artist OakOak, Orange’s RevancheSpray paint and acrylic on palette

Located at 210 Rivington Street on the LES, Hashimoto Contemporary is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10AM to 6PM.

Photos of artworks: 1-3 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 4 & 6 Courtesy the gallery

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Dedicated to expanding skateboard culture and education throughout the globe, Learn and Skate — the non-profit founded in France in 2012 — is now on a mission to build a cultural center in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia that will host a library, along with English, music and art classes. Earlier this month, Learn and Skate joined forces with the Museum of Les Abattoirs in Toulouse to launch a skateboard exhibition, featuring works — now online for bidding on Paddle 8 — designed by a diverse range of first-rate urban artists. Featured above are decks designed by Abstrk, Skount, Zalez and Ricardo Cavolo. The following images were captured at the festivities that accompanied the exhibition’s launch:

Exhibition opening

Musicians at play with decks by Mr Cenz, Liard Arnaud, Poni and Hush

Young artists at work

Proud young artist

Works created for Paddle 8 auction by (left to right) French artists Siker, Der, Korail, Superstop and Zalez

Limited edition signed and numbered  photograph by legendary skater and artist Steve Olson

You can view all of the artworks and bid on them here to help support the production of  a cultural center in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Bidding ends on April 24 at 12pm.

All photos courtesy of “Learn and Skate”

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LIMINAL SPACE, Dave Persue‘s first solo exhibition at GR Gallery, showcases the varied and ever-evolving aesthetic of the acclaimed, pioneering West Coast urban artist. Along with works on paper and large canvases are images painted directly onto the gallery walls. On display, too, is a sampling of  classic merchandise — including a children’s book — featuring the legendary Bunny Kitty. Pictured above is the exhibit’s exuberant title piece, Liminal Space, fashioned with acrylic on canvas and glued onto a board in the artist’s frame. What follows are several more images I captured while visiting the gallery:

Dreamstate (Reprise), Acrylic on canvas

A series of artworks inspired by the West Coast artist’s current city, NYC, and its sprawling subways

Luck Dragon painted onto gallery wall

New York Wet Paint, acrylic on canvascollaboration with WANE

And from graffiti art to the aesthetics of fine art with Lafayette, Acrylic on canvas

LIMINAL SPACE continues at GR Gallery, 255 Bowery, through next Sunday. The gallery is open Tuesday – Sunday from 12-7pm.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Celebrating the 90th anniversary of Walt Disney’s iconic Mickey Mouse and his influence on popular culture throughout the globe, Mickey: The True Original Exhibition is an exuberant tribute to the beloved, famed mouse. Featuring artworks in a range of media — including: painting, comic art, yarn bombing, sculpture and installation art — in a labyrinth-like setting, the pop-up exhibition continues through February 10 at 60 10th Avenue in the Meatpacking District. Pictured above is Keith Haring‘s rendition of Mickey Mouse. Several more images from Mickey: The True Original Exhibition follow:

The legendary Kenny Scharf, Cosmic Cavern, close-up, inspired by Mickey Mouse watch

Brooklyn-based Katherine Bernhardt, 99Cent Hot Dog, close-up 

Japanese Pop Art pioneer Keiichi Tanaami, Mickey’s Japan Tourism

LA-based multimedia artist Michael John Kelly, Toon Town

Brooklyn-based fiber artist London Kaye

Mickey: The True Original Exhibition is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am – 8pm. To enter  you must have a ticket purchased in advance. Tickets can be purchased online here.

Photo credits: 1, 2 & 6 Lois Stavsky; 3, 4 & 5 Houda Lazrak

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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If you missed Shepard Fairey’s massive, hugely significant, exhibition Damaged in late 2017, it is still possible to experience it. West Coast-based VRt Ventures – in its mission to make provocative exhibitions accessible to all – has created the experience for us in virtual reality with a mobile app that enables us to move around the entire gallery, tap on all artworks and listen to two hours of outstanding narration by the artist.

Experiencing Damaged now couldn’t be more timely, as Shepard Fairey focuses on those Americans most affected by current policies and social issues in our increasingly troubling political climate. Among the issues tacked are: xenophobia, racial bias, Wall Street corruption, economic inequality and sexism.

“I definitely think that art can be part of the solution because it can inspire people to look at an issue they might otherwise ignore or reject,” commented the artist.  Damaged is an honest diagnosis, but diagnosis is the first step to recognizing and solving problems.

Officially launched earlier this week in collaboration with Juxtapoz, the app that will make it possible for you to experience Damaged can be downloaded for $4.99 via the iOS App Store and the Google Play store for Android, and on Oculus, HTC and Steam. You can also check it out at the Damaged pop-up open to the public through Sunday, October 21, at 136 Bowery.

Images: 1 & 4 Lois Stavsky; 2 & 3 courtesy VRt Ventures 

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If you haven’t yet had your portrait drawn with one line in under one minute by the wonderfully passionate, nomadic Brooklyn-based 0H10 M1ke, tomorrow is your chance. From 6 – 10pm, Mike promises to do that and lots more at 198 Allen Street. Last week, we met up and caught up a bit.

When we last spoke in 2014, you said that your goal was to create 100,000 one-line matchbox portraits? Mine was 11,206! How close are you to your goal?

My most recent was #13,021! I’ve done quite a few at 17 Frost, at 198 Allen, on the trains, on the streets — anywhere I can!

How do you approach folks? And how do they respond?

I simply say, “Give me a New York moment; I’ll draw your portrait in one line on a matchbox in one minute.” They generally respond with skepticism. But once they see the portrait I’ve created, they like it.

In addition to your ongoing matchbox project, what other projects have engaged you as of late?

I’ve been preparing for my upcoming solo show and performance If Basquiat and Keith Haring had a baby…reimagining the works of Basquiat and Haring in one-line drawings. I’ve, also, been working on creating sculptures inspired by Warhol; instead of using Brillo boxes, I use Nike boxes. And I’ve been staging wrestling as dance, which will be projected –along with large portraits — onto a huge screen outside 198 Allen.

What inspires you to keep creating?

I’m compulsive. I have to. And people, the street art community in particular, have been welcoming and supportive.

Are there any particular artists out there who continue to influenc your aesthetic?

Obviously Haring and Basquiat. But other main influences include UFO and Neckface.

Anything else new — in terms of your art-making?

I’ve been getting my original drawings into hand-made books. I recently constructed a 3o-pocket rotating magazine rack, and I’ve filled it with all hand-made original artbooks and magazines. I also create on a larger variety of surfaces.

What’s ahead?

Murals, prints and reproducibles.

Good luck with it all!

Note: You can keep up with 0H10 M1ke here — now that he’s posting on Instagram!

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; all images courtesy of the artist

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Shoot the Pump, a wonderfully engaging exhibit featuring an eclectic mix of works in a range of media by two dozen NYC-based artists, continues through November 4 at Bullet Space, an urban artist collective at 292 East 3rd Street. Curated by Lee Quiñones, Alexandra Rojas and Andrew Castrucci, it is largely a pean to the ubiquitous fire hydrant and its massive significance to the lives and minds of NYC kids. Pictured above is Pink Pump fashioned with acrylic on canvas by the legendary Lady Pink. Several more images follow:

Barry Hazard, Water Main, Acrylic on wood, 2018

Martin Wong, I Really Like the Way Firemen Smell, Acrylic on canvas, c. 1988

John Ahearn, Point Guard Renzo, Acrylic on reinforced plaster, 2018

Bobby G, Superzentrierte, Oil and aluminum paint on canvas, 1983

Alexandra Rojas in collaboration with John Ahearn, Installation; Hydrant water on oil shellac and reinforced plaster, 2018

Lee Quiñones, Trepidation, Metal cans, wood, 2018

Bullet Space is open Saturday and Sunday from 1 – 6pm or by appointment — 347.277.9841. Check here for a full list of the artists on exhibit. Most of the artists, explains co-curator Alexandra Rojas, have strong roots on the Lower East Side, as Bullet Space continues to keep its culture alive amidst the rapid changes in the neighborhood. Lee Quiñones, in fact, lived in the building where Bullet Space is housed.

Photos of artworks 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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