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Charged with glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy in his songs, Spanish rapper Pablo Hásel was arrested and imprisoned last month. For the past several weeks since his arrest, demonstrations have erupted almost daily, and dozens of murals have surfaced advocating “freedom of expression.” While the demonstrations have, on occasion, turned violent, the street art has been a peaceful diversion.

The image above, painted by the talented Barcelona-based Catalan artist Cinta Vidal, features the rapper as he is being painted over — or obliterated — by the king.  Several more of the ephemeral murals follow:

Barcelona-based Galleta Maria depicts a double-headed snake that is preventing a woman from speaking

Graffiti writer Kader One at work painting the rapper hanging while grasping a keychain featuring a crown

Spanish artist El Edu, at work on “La Llibertat (h)a mort,” mourning the death of freedom

Graffiti writer Antón G. Seoane aka SlimROK, “Freedom or Fire”

Barcelona-based Argentine artist Zosen, “Libertad Expresion,” a call for the “freedom of expression”

All photos by Fernando Alcalá Losa; courtesy, Audrey García

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The following book review is by Street Art NYC contributor Houda Lazrak

For over a decade, the POW! WOW! Street Art Festival has been bringing standout murals by internationally renowned artists to cities throughout the globe. POW! WOW! WORLDWIDE!: 10 Years of International Street Art, authored by the festival’s founder and curator Jasper Wong and published by Paragon Books, pays a well-deserved homage to the hundreds of murals created during the festival’s many iterations.

POW! WOW! WORLDWIDE!: 10 Years of International Street Art, chronicles POW! POW!’s many editions in fifteen cities, with page spreads of striking murals. Each chapter begins with an image of a location’s discerning geographic or urban features: Taiwan’s sprawling nightlights, Long Beach’s palm-tree lined waterfront, Antelope Valley’s field of tulips, Haiwai’s oceanside downtown, Rotterdam’s glass-lined buildings.

Photographs of the murals follow with many in-progress images of artists at work including: Nychos, Jeff Soto, Cinta Vidal and Tran Nguyen. The process shots are dynamic and illustrate the labor of mural making. Readers are also provided with biographical information of each of the participating artists.

Featured are many examples of collaborative murals. The mural painted by James Bullough and Ricky Watts, for example, fuses Bullough’s realistic portraiture with Watts’ fluid shapes and psychedelic patterns. In another mural highlighted, Rone’s figurative signature style meets Aaron de la Cruz‘s calligraphic mazes. And featured, too, is a three-person collaboration between Cambodian, Japanese and Hawaiian artists Andrew Hem, Yoskay Yamamoto and Edwin Ushiro, respectively.

The book also features candid shots of festival goers, participants and organizers, offering a window into the festival’s atmosphere beyond the art-making. In his forward, editor-in-chief of Booooooom Jeff Hamada, describes the festival’s intention as a “naive desire to bring people together – not just to paint walls and go home, but to actually get to know each other, share stories, and form real friendships.

Jasper Wong also writes that the festival’s name itself, POW!WOW!, “is taken from a Native American term that describes a gathering that celebrates culture, music and art, which spoke to [their] core mission to beautify, educate and bring people together through art and music.” The book portrays this intention and the excitement that unravels. The unique urban culture of cities is also shown in image compilations. Among these are: Korea’s thriving music and food scene, and San Jose’s bicycle culture.

POW!WOW! is often invited to return to its host cities, attesting to the positive value that murals add to the vitality of metropolises. In flipping through the pages, the location types are noticeable: artworks are often erected in residential areas, discrete alleyways, and unpretentious parking lots. It serves as a reminder of POW!WOW!’s contribution to diverse neighborhoods, beyond hyper visible spots in downtowns areas or arts districts.

POW! WOW! WORLDWIDE!: 10 Years of International Street Art is a welcome addition to any street art aficionado’s library and can be purchased from most online book stores.

Featured images

1 Book cover, TRAV MSK, in Long Beach, California, 2018

2 Overview of Taiwan

3 Nychos & Jeff Soto, Hawaii, 2013

4 James Bullough and Ricky Watts, Hawaii, 2018

5 Jet Martinez, San Jose, 2017

6 PichiAvo, Worcester, 2017

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HEKTAD! Love Will Tear Us Apart, a solo exhibition featuring a delightfully charming array of new works – all on the theme of love — by the prolific NYC-based artist Hektad, continues through Sunday at One Art Space. Executed in his signature style, the works reflect Hektad’s early days as a graffiti writer in his native Bronx, as well as his recent years as a Manhattan-based street and studio artist. The 30″ x 30″ image featured above is aptly titled “Love Spray.” Several more images captured while we visited One Art Space this past Sunday follow:

My Love Is Golden, 2021, 36″ x 36″

Bear Brick, Sculpture, 20″ tall

Another Bear Brick 20″ tall sculpture

My Broken Heart, 2020, 61″ x 72″ (L) and Love of Passion Series – Red, 2021, 24″ x 24″

Wide view

Located at 23 Warren Street, One Art Space is open Monday through Friday from 1 – 6 pm,  Saturday and Sunday from 1 – 5 pm. And this Friday — beginning at 6pm — there will be a talk, book launch and signing for the artist’s first book. You can register for the event here.

Photo credits: 1, 2 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 3, 4 & 6 Ana Candelaria

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Kicking off the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, Street Art for Mankind launched earlier this week a one-year anti-child trafficking billboard campaign online and in the streets of NYC.  Participating in this #FreeChildren Campaign are nine major street artists, who are taking over 100 billboards with visuals that educate the general public about the reality of child trafficking. All of the visuals can be activated by the free AR app “Behind the Wall,” available both on Google Play and at the App Store, that allows us to get the facts and take action simply by scanning the image.

The billboard featured above was designed by the immensely talented Spanish duo PichiAvo. Several more images of billboards that have turned into interactive installations in the streets of New York or online (video here) follow:

Spanish artist Lula Goce

Barcelona-native Cristian Blanxer

Amsterdam-based Judith de Leeuw aka JDL

Copenhagen-based Victor Ash

This #FreeChildren Campaign has been launched in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations (Alliance 8.7 co-chair), the Permanent Mission of Argentina to the United Nations (Alliance 8.7 co-chair), NYC Mayor’s Office (ENDGBV), the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, JC Decaux, along with renowned experts and activists.

All photos courtesy Street Art for Mankind

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Raised in Juneau, Alaska and residing now “on the ancestral lands of the Indigenous Peoples of the Paiute, Wasco and Warm Springs Tribes,” Filipina-American artist Bekah Badilla combines symbols of past, present and future as she questions and challenges Western notions of progress. It is a progress, Bekah asserts, that is “tied up in patriarchy, white supremacy and capitalism, as man and nature became increasingly separated.”

The image above, “Born Again Babaylan,” features the artist’s recent 18×44′ outdoor mural in Bend, Oregon. Melting out of the glacial ice is the spirit of a Babaylan, a matriarchal leader, spirit guide and warrior prevalent in pre-colonial Philippines. Embodying both technology and nature, the Babaylan offers knowledge and guidance through spirituality, mysticism and ancestral strength. To her right, a young girl is shown uplifted by her lineage and empowered to fight the battles of her time.

“As violence and oppression persist in our society,” states Bekah, “the values inherited from the Babaylan hold no consequential utility or materiality, and often carry no weight by American standards. Yet, it’s this same reason they have the power to transcend the linear and shed light on the nature of our present circumstances.”

Several close-ups from the mural follow:

The circuit boards, explains the artist, are a symbol of current and future technology,  fusing here with nature.

Bekah Badilla, alongside a segment of  “Born Again Babaylan”

All photos courtesy of the artist

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On our first-time, long-overdue visit to Jersey City’s Deep Space Gallery this past Sunday, we were greeted by a treasure trove of first-rate artworks in a wide range of styles and media. Currently on exhibit is MORE MINIS, the gallery’s annual miniature show, showcasing works by over 60 contemporary artists. While many are formally trained, others are self-taught. All produce delightfully intriguing work.

Featured above is a close-up from an installation of spray cans painted by Jersey City-born and bred multimedia artist and graffiti veteran T.DEE, along with a small sculpture — from the series Elephas Maximus Indicus — crafted by noted India-born, Newark-based “3D light artist” Sunil Garg.

What follows are several works by featured artists who also have a strong presence on our streets:

NJ-based GOOMBA, “#8 of 9,” Acrylic, spray paint and ink on canvas

NYC-based Optimo NYC, “AIDSERIES #5: And It Don’t Stop,” Aerosol, enamel and acrylic on canvas

NJ-based RH Doaz, “Moving On,” Mixed media on reclaimed wood

Jersey City-born, bred and based Clarence Rich, “Maelstrom,” Acrylic on canvas

Jersey City-based Catherine Hart, “Love Note 3,” Resin art, one of 12

Wide view of segment of MORE MINIS exhibition

Founded in 2016 by the multi-faceted Jenna Geiger and artist Keith VanPel, Deep Space Gallery is  located at 77 Cornelison Avenue in Jersey City’s Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood. To visit Deep Space Gallery and view the distinctly alluring artworks on exhibit through mid-February, you can send a direct message to its Instagram account. or drop an email to deepspacejc@gmail.com.

Photo credits: 1 & 7 Ana Candelaria; 2-6 Lois Stavsky

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NYC-based, Stockholm-born graffiti artist and graphic designer SCRATCH has been busily making her mark on the street, on canvas and on spray cans. The image featured above was painted this past summer in uptown Manhattan. More of SCRATCH‘s works on various media follow:

Also painted on the streets, this one in Brooklyn

 “A Galaxy Far Far Away,” on canvas

 “Blue Sky” on canvas

“Viking Warrior” on canvas

On repurposed spray can

Check out the shop at Wall Works New York to view more of SCRATCH’s works on canvas and on spray cans that are for sale.

All photos courtesy the artist

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Inspired by the various picket signs that surfaced in Atlanta, Georgia following the murder of George Floyd, Bogota-based Lorenzo Masnah began creating a series of images that has evolved into an expansive, expressive body of work. An exhibition featuring a a diverse selection of these singularly timely visuals is currently on view in the newly-launched Gallery Estrella in Charlston, South Carolina.

The tryptic featured above, “Rosa, We Didn’t,” was crafted with spray paint and markers on Batik fabric. Several more artworks presented in Paper Cuts — Masnah’s first solo exhibition in seven years — follow, along with images of the artist captured by Leigh-Ann Beverly at Mosquito Beach, a refuge for African-Americans during the Jim Crow era.

“My Execution,” Spray paint and markers on canvas

At Mosquito Beach

“No New Jails,” Spray paint and markers on canvas

At Mosquito Beach

“Silence Is Betrayal,” Spray paint and markers on canvas

“Georgia’s Blues,” Spray paint, acrylic and markers on canvas

Lorenzo Masnah at Mosquito Beach

Proceeds from “Paper Cuts” will benefit the community center in San Basilio de Palenque, the largely Afro-Colombian village, whose members are direct descendants of African enslaved people brought to Colombia by Europeans during the colonization of the Americas.

Located at 121 Spring Street in Charleston, SC, Gallery Estrella, is open Wednesday through Sunday.  Check here for hours, and find out about the gallery’s mission here.

Photos: 1, 2, 4, 6 & 7, courtesy the artist and Gallery Estrella; 3, 5 & 8, Leigh-Ann Beverly 

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The Waterford Walls International Street Art Festival celebrated its 6th year in 2020. But it was a year like no other. Instead of taking place over a long weekend in August, it lasted for over 45 days, as artists from throughout Ireland arrived one at a time to paint their murals in accordance with social distancing guidelines. With live interviews and videos online, the festival successfully transformed urban spaces while, also, engaging the public.

The image featured above was created collaboratively by the noted Irish artists Aches and Maser. Several more images that surfaced in the 2020 The Waterford Walls International Street Art Festival follow:

London-born Ireland-based muralist and illustrator Dan Leo 

Dublin-based sign painter and lettering artist Vanessa Power

Waterford-based Polish artist Magda Karol

Dublin-based muralist and graphic artist Garreth Joyce

Irish printmaker and muralist Shane O’Driscoll

Dublin-based Niall O’Lochlainn and Waterford-based Caoilfhionn Hanton

All photos courtesy Waterford Walls; special thanks to Houda Lazrak for making the connection

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Featuring a wide range of artworks in varied media and styles by a diverse group of artists, Art on the Ave has enlivened the visual landscape of Columbus Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Both vacant and retail storefronts have been showcasing artworks — many fashioned by underrepresented artists — that speak to our immediate times. Conceived this past June by three NYC teachers, the project has a strong educational component, as well.

The image featured above, We the People, is the work of mixed-media African-American artist and arts educator Lance Johnson. Several more images from Art on the Ave — spanning 67th to 77th Street on Columbus Avenue — follow:

From A.J. Stetson’s remarkable photography project Masked NYC: Witness to Our Time 

And dozens more installed on the fence of PS 334 at West 77th Street 

Fine art photographer Kevin Kinner, Close-up from huge installation of silhouette profiles

Feminist artist and gallerist Audrey Anastasi, Touch, Charcoal and mixed media collage on paper

Artist and game developer Steve Derrick, Alissa Hammer RN, NYU Langone Hospital NYC — from his series of portraits of frontline workers

The hugely imaginative Jon Barwick, Facet, Acrylic on canvas

Serving as creative consultant for Art on the Ave — that continues through January 31 — is Lisa DuBois, director of X Gallery in Harlem. For further information on this project, check here.

Photo credits:

1 Lance Johnson; 2, 4-7 Lois Stavsky

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