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Tomorrow evening, Saturday, February 4, Sister’s Uptown Bookstore & Cultural Center and James Top Productions will host a book signing of James Top‘s autobiography, My Life, along with an opening reception to “Life Is Sweet on Sugar Hill,” a solo exhibition of his artwork. If you don’t already own a copy of James Top‘s memoir, this is the ideal setting to pick up a personally autographed one.

James Top, My Life not only celebrates the life of one particularly passionate graffiti artist, curator, educator and activist, but it illuminates elements of the hip-hop culture that NYC birthed.

Growing up in the projects in East New York, a neighborhood plagued by poverty and violence, it was all too easy to succumb to the fiercely brutal life of the streets. But James Top was determined from early on to somehow escape the “war zone” that was his everyday reality and “make it to the top.”

One of the last of his friends to pick up a marker, James — then JEE 2, the writer — went, within a relatively short span of time, from tagging the walls of his building to hitting trains non-stop. In 1974, along with several other writers, he founded TOP, The Odd Partners, a graffiti crew “with a mission to take over every train line and give Central Brooklyn an all-city graffiti presence.”  And that TOP, The Odd Partners did, as its members — principally IN 1, MICKEY729, HURST and JEE 2 — perfected the art of the throw-up as they gained recognition as Kings.

As life evolved, so did the TOP Crew. Members died or were imprisoned; DONDI and NOC 167 were among those inducted; and whole train cars began to roll by. JEE 2 was soon JAMESTOP, and he began actively tagging the streets. “As JAMESTOP, I was a combination of a Central Brooklyn gangster and a Harlem Shaft,” he writes in My Life.

While James Top had found himself enmeshed in a range of personal struggles in the late 80’s, he effectively triumphed over them by the late 90’s after leaving Brooklyn for Harlem. Several hugely impressive accomplishments followed: he curated his first exhibition ever — a DONDI Memorial Show; he launched Graffiti NYC, a TV show centering on NYC’s graffiti art culture; he converted a wall of an abandoned school property into “The People’s Wall” — an open-air gallery,  and he began to lecture on graffiti in various venues, including City College, CUNY.

In 2008, James Top had his first one-man show, “AFROLOGY,”  showcasing adult versions of his signature AFRO character.  And in the late 2010’s, he became actively involved in the Graffiti Hall of Fame, both as a co-director and artist.

You can meet the legendary James Top, view his artwork, and purchase an autographed copy of his memoir tomorrow evening, February 4, from 5-9pm, at Sister’s Uptown Bookstore & Cultural Center, 1942 Amsterdam Avenue @ 156 Street.

Images: 1. Cover photo  Jamel Shabazz; 2-5 ©James Top, My Life

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Born in 1986 in São Paulo, the hugely beloved Brazilian artist Enivo began getting up on his native city’s streets at age 12. His artwork has, since, surfaced on walls, in festivals and in galleries worldwide.  It has been presented, too, in such prestigious institutions as Museu de Arte Sacra de São Paulo and National Museum of Brasilia.

As an art educator, Enivo has inspired and trained hundreds of young people from “underprivileged neighborhoods.” And, together with a group of other artists, he founded the A7MA Gallery in Vila Madalena, where he has curated over 70 exhibitions, providing artists with opportunities to showcase and sell their art.

During his recent NYC residency, Enivo created a body of new work, Eyes of the Street. “In the art studio, I combine my street and academic knowledge, mixing graffiti materials with oil paint,” he explains.

Featured above is the artist posed next to his recent oil painting, Jacaré — fashioned with oil, spray paint and pastel on canvas. What follows are several more images captured at the reception following Enivo‘s talk with “Eyes of the Street” curator Simon Watson.

Self Portrait (Arrive in NYC), Oil, spray and pastel on canvas,

Sleeping! Oil, spray and pastel on canvas

Tudo Joia, Oil, spray and pastel on canvas

“O Circo Novo” Jonato, Oil, spray and pastel on canvas

Queen Bee, Oil, spray and pastel on canvas

Self Portrait / Julião Máscaras, Oil, spray and pastel on canvas

Enivo’s canvases will remain on display at the Brazilian Consulate, located at 225 East 41st Street, until the end of February.

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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Curated by Kate Storch, “Landmark” is both aesthetically stirring and culturally enriching. Featuring artworks in a range of media by Joe Conzo, Charlie Doves, Bluster One, Peter Paid, Jeff Henriquez and Danny Cortes, the exhibition continues through this Sunday, January 29 at One Art Space in Tribeca. While visiting yesterday afternoon, I had the opportunity to pose a few questions to Kate.

This exhibition is a wonderful homage to hip-hop and to its iconic locations. What spurred you to curate it?

I’d been wanting to curate an exhibition on this theme for awhile. And the beginning of 2023, the year that celebrates the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, seemed like the ideal time to make it happen.

How did you decide which artists to feature?

I chose artists whom I admire as professionals and as people. They are all different, yet all are related to the culture in their own distinct ways. Joe Conzo photographed hip-hop from its early days in the South Bronx. His contributions to the culture are invaluable. I’ve been a huge fan of Charlie Doves for years. He is a master of the craft. I love Bluster One‘s signature style. Music runs through it. Peter Paid brilliantly captures the aesthetics of graffiti in his signage. I had a wonderful experience working with Jeff Henriquez several years ago at the Summer Classics Block Party For National Hip Hop Day at First Street Park. And Danny Cortes‘s expertise, energy, patience and humility increasingly impress me.

What were some of the challenges that curating this exhibit presented?

There are always challenges when curating, but in this case, they were limited. Everything has gone remarkably smoothly. All of the artists are great people — and easy to work with!

The exhibition is so beautifully installed. Can you tell us something about that?

The installation is entirely my vision. I had given the placement of the art considerable thought, and I had the artistic freedom here at One Art Space to make it happen. I wanted it all to come to life! I wanted it to be an experience.

How can folks see the exhibit?

One Art Space is located at 23 Warren Street in Tribeca. The exhibit continues through Sunday from 1:00 PM – 6: 00 PM daily. Easily reached by just about every subway line, the gallery can be contacted at 646-559-0535.

Congratulations, Kate!

Featured images:

1 Peter Paid

2 Bluster One

3 Charlie Doves

4 Jeff Henriquez

5 Joe Conzo

6 Danny Cortes

7 Kate Storch, curator; typography by Peter Paid to the right of miniature art by Danny Cortes

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; photos 1-4, 6 & 7 Lois Stavsky; photo 5, courtesy One Art Space

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Through art murals and installations, the aWall Mural Projects creates opportunities for artistic expression while engaging youth and enhancing public spaces — one wall at a time. Last month, a group of first-rate national and international artists transformed the exterior walls of the Paul Laurence Dunbar K-8 Center, while bringing “the power of art to the next generation.”

The hugely impressive mural featured above was painted by German artists Daniel Ferino and Stone Graffiti.  What follows are several more images of murals at the Dunbar K-8 Center facilitated by the aWall Mural Projects. All photos were captured by the highly accomplished travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad.

Brooklyn-based Jason Naylor

Washington D.C. native Nicholas Zimbro

 Michigan-based Zach Curtis

Boston-based Sophy Tuttle at work

NYC-based Tom Bob does renowned photographer Martha Cooper

All photos Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad

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Opening this evening, Friday, January 13 and running through February 5 at City Point in Downtown Brooklyn is POSITIVE VIBRATIONS. Curated by Collect with Lulu and Silvertuna Studios, it is an exhilarating exhibition featuring an eclectic scope of works by a range of contemporary artists from legendary graffiti writers to pro skaters.

The image featured above was fashioned by the wonderfully talented Bronx-based Zimad, who also painted a huge, brightly-hued mural at City Point’s Flatbush Atrium as a tribute to the approaching Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rabbit. A limited-edition of Year of the Rabbit coloring book calendar will be also available for purchase at the gallery.

A small selection of images of additional artworks on exhibit in POSITIVE VIBRATIONS follow:

Bronx-based Eric Orr

American Pro skater Christian Hosoi

NYC-based Australian artist Damien Mitchell

Bronx-based legends Cope 2 (top) and T-KID 170

Greek artist Andreas Rousounelis

Chicago-based Rubén Aguirre

The gallery is welcoming to children, as well. Among the exhibition’s highlights are classes scheduled for children by the legendary Al Diaz on “How to Create Your Own Graffiti Alphabet.”

Located at 445 Albee Square West, the gallery is open Monday – Wednesday by appointment and Thursday – Sunday 12-7pm. Gallery contacts are lulu@collectwithlulu.com and silvertunastudios@gmail.com

Photos of images: Lois Stavsky

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Rigorously researched and handsomely presented, City of Kings celebrates the rich graffiti culture that began on the mean streets of  NYC in the late 60’s and has since evolved into a worldwide phenomenon. Curated by first generation graffiti artist and SAMO© partner Al Diaz, along with graffiti archivist and artist Eric ‘DEAL CIA’ Felisbret and graphic designer and arts educator Mariah Fox, City of Kings appeals not only to us graffiti aficionados, but to anyone curious about the history of an illicit art form that has not only become legitimized in the “art world,” but has impacted just about every aspect of our culture — from advertising to fashion design to education.

Spanning over six decades, a comprehensive illustrated timeline traces the history of NYC graffiti beginning in 1967 with JULIO 204, whose tag and street number captured the attention of his peers in Washington Heights/Inwood. Four years later, when fellow Washington Heights tagger TAKI 183 was profiled in The New York Times, graffiti went on to gain the attention of a wide, diverse audience.

By the mid-70’s, graffiti had evolved into a “firmly established cultural movement with clear principles.”  Whole-car train pieces began to roll by and the publication of Norman Mailer’s The Faith of Graffiti lent validation to the art form.  But by the early 80’s, Mayor Koch waged outright war against graffiti writers, accusing them of “destroying our lifestyle and and making it difficult to enjoy life.”

Yet despite the war against graffiti, key talented and passionate photographers, documentarians, filmmakers and curators increasingly began to celebrate the culture which continues to make its way not only onto public space but into galleries and museums worldwide.

In addition to the exhibition’s graffiti timeline,  there is also a timeline of “Key Current Events,” such as the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, the election of NYC Mayor David Dinkins in 1989 and the outbreak of COVID-19. – all lending socio-political context to the graffiti movement. And homage is given to the many “Fallen but not Forgotten Players in the Game.”  Included among those many writers are such noted ones as: A-One,  Don 1, Dondi, Iz the Wiz, Sane 182, and Stay High 140.  On view too are black books, graffiti paraphernalia and varied tools of the trade, along with videos, documentaries, recordings and first-person accounts.

Accompanying Part I of the exhibition is an invaluable catalog — published by Howl Arts — that includes: both the graffiti and the current events timelines; key essays by Al Diaz, Eric Felisbret, Mariah Fox and Chris Pape; a glossary of graffiti terms by Eric Felisbret, and learning tools and resources for educators by Mariah Fox.  The catalog can be purchased at the gallery or by emailing books@al-diaz.com.

On view in Part II of the exhibition at the nearby Howl! Arts/Howl! Archive are original artworks of largely of graffiti tags by such pioneers as Coco 144, Lava 1 & 2, Noc 167, Snake 1 and Futura, along with photographs by several noted documentarians of the culture including Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, Charlie Ahearn, David Gonzalez and Flint Gennari.

Among those on exhibit by the legendary photojournalist Martha Cooper is her 1982 Bronx capture, DUSTER/LIZZIE: 2 top to bottom whole cars in straight letters and wild style.

While Part I — located at 6 East 1st Street — closes this coming Sunday, the 15th, Part II of the exhibition continues through January 29 at 250 Bowery. Both spaces are open Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-6pm.

Photo credits:  1 & 2 Lois Stavsky; 3 & 4 Rachel  Fawn Alban, 5 © Howl Arts Inc & 6 © Martha Cooper

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Since 2014, The Raw Project has been bringing intrigue and inspiration to schools in Miami and beyond at a time when American schools continue to see their arts education programs defunded. First rate artists from across the globe transform blank school walls into alluring open-air canvases inspired by the students, school and community. Under the curatorial direction of Robert Skran and Audrey Sykes, magic once again came to Miami during the week of Art Basel, 2022. And travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad was there to capture it.

The image pictured above was painted by Montreal-based Kevin Ledo, Titled “Fabian,” it portrays a first-grader at the West Little River K-8 Center. What follows is a sampling of several more murals that surfaced last month on the walls of the West Little River school.

Los Angeles-based Eric Skotnes, “Nolite Timere” (“Don’t Be Afraid”)

Miel Krutzmann of the Dutch duo Telmo Miel, “Minds Unfolded”

Telmo Pieper of the Dutch duo Telmo Miel, “Throwing Sticks and Chasing Stains’ 

London-based Dale Grimshaw at work on “Linky” — titled by a student

Oslo-based Hama Woods 

  Dutch artist Mr June at work on his magical mural

Photos: Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad 

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Despite the many changes in Philly’s West Kensington neighborhood, the walls along North 5th & Cecil B Moore continue to host a huge range of  striking, first-rate graffiti murals. The image pictured above is the work of the gifted Philly-based Colombian artist Busta. Three more adjacent murals — all on the theme of the greek myth “Jason and the Argonauts” — follow:

Veteran graffiti writer Sew

Philly-based Spanish artist Saoka

Philly-based Spanish artist Imse

And a newly-fashioned nearby wall by Philly graffiti stylist Esteme

Photos: Lois Stavsky

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Since 2015, the annual SHINE Mural Festival has been transforming St. Petersburg, Florida’s coastal “Sunshine City,” into an intriguing open-air museum featuring local, national and international artists. Travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad was there to capture this year’s festival which had taken place in mid-October.

The distinctly dramatic image pictured above was painted by Berlin-based James Bullough, who is posed in front of his mural. The artist explains his choice of colors as “a subtle shoutout” to Amsterdam-based Joram Roukes whose artwork was previously on this wall. Several more images from this year’s SHINE Mural Festival follow:

LA-based, French duo 123KLAN in front of their mural

Tampa-based Sydney Prusso

German native MadC and Montreal-based Haks 180 at work

 Florida-based Tasko in front of his mural

Toronto-based Ben Johnston

Local artist Dreamweaver in front of her mural in progress

All photos by Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad 

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Adding sixteen new murals to Downtown Cincinnati, BLINK, the nation’s largest light and art festival, took place last month for the first time since 2019. The cleverly captivating artwork featured above was painted by Atlanta-based Greg Mike. Several more murals — all captured by by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad — follow:

Chicago-based Max Sansing portrays two figures “in meditation with their thoughts while looking up to the sky symbolizing the future and limitless possibilities.”

Valencia-born duo PichiAvo at work

PichiAvo, completed mural — inspired by the marble sculpture Laocoön and His Sons

Amsterdam-based  Mr. June presents “an alternative experience of the environment, which has been optically manipulated by form, colors and perspectives.”

Athens native Insane 51 portrays Euthenia, the ancient Greek female spirit of prosperity

Denver-based duo Lindz and Lamb at work on “Who Dey!” referencing the chant that breaks out after the Bengals score touchdowns at Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium

Photos by Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad

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