Public Art Projects

When the talented Netherlands-based artist Karski teamed up with the brand Tia Maria, not only was a splendid abstract design – with one-of-a-kind colors – launched for a new drink, but an elegant book, CONTRAST, was produced, as well. With its splendid selection of images by first-rate international artists and its informative, engaging text, CONTRAST — by Karski and friends — is a cause for celebration.

A small sampling of images from CONTRAST follows:

 Karski, Untitled, Mixed media, Amsterdam, 2019

Karski and Netherlands-based Beyond — who have been working as a duo since 2012 — Untitled, PowWow Festival, Rotterdam, 2019

Karski and Beyond, Untitled, Bjelovar, Croatia, 2017

Karski and Beyond. The Holy Stork, The Hauge, 2019

Brazilian artist Sipros — whom Karski first met in 2013 when he had traveled to São Paulo to paint at the MuBE, the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture and Ecology — Four faces, Big ears, Wynwood Arts District, Miami, 2019

The legendary NYC-based Chris “Daze” Ellis — one of Karski’s early inspirations — Untitled, NYC, 2016

Venezuela-born, Munich-based SatOne, Counterbalance, Frankston, Australia, 2019

In addition to the captivating artworks, among the many items of interest in CONTRAST is the fascinating chronology of Karski’s life as an artist — from the moment he picked up a spray can at age 10 to his recent experimentation with abstract work. And wonderfully intriguing, too, are the artists’ intimate impressions of one another.

Also featured in CONTRAST are: the Netherlands-based duo TelmoMeil; Amsterdam-born, Buenos Aires-based Nasepop; Rotterdam-based duo Bier En Brood; Amsterdam-based Stefan Nikolai Ormeling; Colombian native Zurikt; the late Spanish artist Treze and London-based Bonzai.

A paean to contemporary street art and to the notion of bringing together opposites in a world of contrasts, the limited-edition CONTRAST delights!

Images courtesy Karski and Tia Maria

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Celebrating five years of Underhill Walls — the model community art project spearheaded and curated by Jeff Beler — “What’s Your Sign?” recently surfaced at the corner of Underhill Avenue and Saint Johns Place.  Featured above is Jeff Beler — standing to the left of his mural, adjacent to BLJ ‘s . Several more images from “What’s Your Sign?” follow:

North Carolina / NYC-based BLJ creates a passionate, assertive Aries, the ram — the first astrological sign in the Zodiac

Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo‘s Sagittarius and Savior Elmundo‘s Scorpio

Paulie Nassar designs an alluring Gemini

Visual artist and producer Megan Watters honors Ruth Bader Ginsburg with an elegantly balanced Libra

Brooklyn-based Justin Winslow fashions a mesmerizingly playful Aquarius

And Brooklyn-based Subway Doodle adds a bit of playful sarcasm

Photos of images by Lois Stavsky

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A stirring pubic art exhibition has recently made its way to 6th Avenue and 43rd Street in Midtown Manhattan. Brazilian artist Alexandre Keto imagines the future lives of Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Agatha Felix had they not become “victims of deadly brutality.”

The image featured above depicts Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old African American woman who was found hanged in a Texas jail cell three days after she was arrested during a traffic stop in July, 2015. Several more images from Alive with Us /Viva com Nós follow:

17-year-old Florida-based African-American high school student Trayvon Martin, murdered in 2012 by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, to the left of 18 -year-old Michael Brown who was fatally shot in 2014 by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo

Alexandre Keto — captured at work in the final stages of the mural’s production

Michael Brown, closer-up

Brazilian 8-year-old Agatha Felix, shot in the back in a Rio de Janeiro favela in 2019

And, again, Agatha Felix

Produced by Art Bridge and presented in partnership with Arts Brookfield, “Alive with Us /Viva com Nós” is part of City Canvas, an initiative of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs

Photo credits: 1-5 Lois Stavsky 6 Sara C Mozeson

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A Presidential Parody continued to make its way around town on Sunday — despite the steady rain — with stops at Trump Tower and neighboring sites. A brief interview with New Yorker actor/creator Maia Lorian, who conceived and enacted — along with Enormvs Muñoz and kelci greenway — Sunday’s gorilla art performance, follows:

What inspired this particular chapter of A Presidential Parody?

My latest ad takeover for A Presidential Parody was made under the truest digital dystopian duress that is 2020. A solo work, from creation through install, made during the last days of my mom’s life. The piece is admittedly darker than my previous works, as virtual vigils and FaceTime goodbyes — followed by my dear mother’s Zoom funeral — took place in the background. This piece is in honor of my mom and every other life tragically lost during the Trump presidency. I like to bring my posters to life, like in a true ad campaign, which allowed this poster to progress into a funeral march

In what way does this current piece — both the ad takeover and the performance — differ from some of your former ones? Your other pieces seemed lighter. And despite your playful costume, it is quite intense.

This takeover is a true product of the 2020 dystopian nightmare reality that came to be under Trump — the poster created and installed during the last day of my mother’s life, with the funeral procession taking place after her Zoom funeral.

This performance piece also entails a procession. Can you tell us something about that?

In a typical funeral you see who’s there, and they’re able to offer condolences. I was filmed at my mom’s and wasn’t able to speak to anyone that attended. Grieving is isolating to begin with; grieving during a pandemic makes it even more so. I imagine there’s a group of us from 2020 that deeply understands what it means to have a FaceTime goodbye with the person you love most.

After my father died, for coping I went out dancing a lot. I was also in a play at the time. Neither of those are realities in 2020. 2020 has consumed so many of us with grief, whether it was loss of a loved one, or loss of employment, loss of ability to socialize the way we used to, even loss of the way we used to be able to hug, and most importantly, the loss of basic human rights. Watching the Trump debacle unfold during these last four years, and now during a pandemic, has been too next level. It’s more important than ever to get out the vote. So I created a funeral march of sorts, to honor my mom and the many other lives tragically lost under the reign of Trump, because it’s time for the Demon Cheeto to go.

We last spoke over a year ago. Have you any further thoughts on the state of our nation?

The country’s become a dumpster fire, but we have to keep trying, or it’ll just get worse. We must vote Trump out of office, ultimately- this work is to help to get out the vote.

What do you see as your personal mission in these dire times?

To help get out the vote and get Trump out of office. I come from a background in comedy — CollegeHumor, The Onion, SNL. Trump’s reign has been so negatively absurd, it’s been made up of laugh and cry at the same time moments — moments of horrified disbelief, so I like to unite people with laughter, since we all may be crying on the inside.

And what’s ahead for you?

I will keep on creating, fighting, and trying to help make a difference by using my privilege to subvert, owning my risk with embrace, and hope my mom and dad are up above, watching and protecting.

Thank you for what you are doing. And I am sorry for your loss.

Note: Maia’s wonderful wings were created in collaboration with Matt Siren

Photo credits: 1 Courtesy of Maia Lorian 2-7 Lois Stavsky 

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Pictured above in Part II of our documentation of the politically-driven “Shared Freedom” mural art project — curated by Will Power at First Street Green Art Park — is Calicho Arevalo‘s playful mural, as captured by Ana Candelaria. A few more artworks follow — with even more to be featured on the StreetArtNYC Instagram page.

NYC-based Miami-native Sacsix, “Chokey on the Smokey”

NYC-based multimedia artist Early Riser

Painter, actor and professional skateboarder Danny Minnick in front of huge segment of his beguiling mural — as captured by Berky

Veteran Bronx-based graffiti writer and painter Zimad – as captured by Berky

And Zimad earlier at work — as captured by Berky

Painter and graff master Heart1

And Heart1 — with spray can in hand — as captured by Berky

While visiting the “Shared Freedom” mural art project, be sure to stop by the  POP UP GET OUT THE VOTE / RETAIL STORE that has been set up  adjacent to First Street Green Art Park — on 35 E 1st Street. And don’t forget to VOTE!

Photo credits: 1 Ana Candelaria; 2, 3 & 7 Lois Stavsky and 4, 5, 6 & 8 Berky

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Under the curatorial direction of Will Power, over two dozen artists — representing a diverse range of cultures, backgrounds and aesthetic styles — have transformed First Street Green Art Park into a mecca of socially and politically conscious mural art.

The image featured above — depicting the late George Floyd — is the work of the hugely talented artist and curator Will Power. Several more images captured at First Street Green Art Park follow:

Painter and muralist Albertus Joseph depicts Sitting Bull

And Albertus Joseph with Will Powercaptured by photogtapher Chris Vanberkim aka Berky

Brooklyn-based Bianca Romero pays tribute to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

And Bianca Romero — captured at work by Berky

Phetus88 playfully brings a serious message to us all

La Femme Cheri and OG Millie — captured at work this past Sunday by photographer Ana Candelaria

The impetus behind this project, states Will, is to encourage people to get out there and vote. And in collaboration with Anthony Bowman (pictured below), a POP UP GET OUT THE VOTE / RETAIL STORE has been set up — adjacent to First Street Green Art Park — on 35 E 1st Street.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4, 6  & 8 Lois Stavsky; 3 & 5 Berky and 7 Ana Candelaria

Note: Be sure to check out Part II of this post on Thursday.

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Earlier this fall, four artists — representing different Brazilian regions and ethnic-social realities — shared their talents and visions in the center of  Belo Horizonte, the capital city of southeastern Brazil’s Minas Gerais state. Coordinated by CURA – Urban Art Circuit, this group of black and indigenous artists painted distinctly graceful, alluring images onto some of the city’s tallest buildings.

The playfully intriguing mural featured above — posing questions about societal standards and expectations imposed on women — is the work of the celebrated Brazilian artist Lídia Viber, who lives on the outskirts of Belo Horizonte. Several more Festival CURA 2020 images follow:

The largest work of contemporary indigenous public art in the world painted by visual artist and activist Daiara Tukano — the first indigenous Brazilian woman to paint a gable 

São Paulo-based self-taught artist Diego Mouro — intent on showing the gentleness and affection among black men — depicts a man tending to another man’s dreadlocks

São Paulo-native, multidisciplinary artist Robinho Santana depicts a Brazilian family

Robinho Santana, closer-up

All photos by Caio Flavio

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Working with yarn, Carmen Paulino aka Carmen Community Artist has been busily bringing intriguing images and timely messages to the streets of East Harlem and beyond. I was delighted to recently meet her and find out a bit about her:

When did you first share your artwork in a public space?

Back in 2015, I did live painting outdoors with members of my East Harlem community. And then in 2018, I began yarn-bombing. I’d been working with yarn for years, but only then did I get it out in public.

What inspired you to do so at the time?

I had participated in an exhibition of fiber art at El Barrio Art Space. And I was suddenly inspired to take my art outside. I saw it as a way to beautify my community. I love East Harlem, and I wanted to add color to my neighborhood.

Were there any particular artists who inspired you to get your vision out on the streets?

Yes! Two particular artists who stand out are: Naomi Lawrence aka Naomi Rag – who’s been active in East Harlem now for several years – and the Philadelphia-based yarn bomber Nicole Nikolich aka Lace in the Moon.

Do you generally have permission to install your artwork?

Yes! I always know someone who has some connection to the site.

What is the attitude of your friends and family to what you are doing?

They are all proud of me!

What is your main source of income?

In 2014, I began working as a teaching artist in community centers, hospitals and senior centers. But for the past three years, I’ve worked mostly with seniors – and I love it! They are a constant source of inspiration.

Besides crafting with yarn and teaching art, have you any other particular interests?

I love to paint. I had a phenomenal teacher — when I was a student at Richard Green High School — who encouraged me, and I’ve been painting ever since.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I enjoy doing both. I’ve recently collaborated with Alisha aka Little Nugget Workshop, Viviana Rambay and Glenys Rivas.

Have you a formal art education?

No. I’m essentially self-taught. I learned my craft from my grandmother and mother.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Spanish culture – Indigenous, Latin American, Colombian.

Have you exhibited your work in a gallery setting?

Yes. I’m actively involved with the El Barrio Art Space.

Early in the pandemic many of your pieces expressed gratitude to the essential workers and urged folks to stay home. More recently your artworks have been focusing on the importance of voting in the upcoming election. What inspires your pieces?

I’m inspired by the people I meet and what is happening around me. In early spring my pieces were largely inspired by my husband, FDNY EMS Paramedic Michael Paulino — who has been working in the front line — and by all of the essential workers out there who put so much at risk. Current affairs have triggered my newer works.

Do you work with a sketch-in-hand or just let it flow?

No. I don’t work with a sketch. My work evolves as I create it.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

Always!

What do you see as the role of the artist in society? And your role – in particular?

I see the artist as an agent of change. And my role is to bring a sense of peace and safety to my community, while beautifying it.

What’s ahead?

A collaborative memorial for East Harlem victims of Covid-19.

Thank you, Carmen, for all that you do!  I am looking forward to what’s ahead.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photos: 1 & 4, courtesy of the artist; 2, 3, 5 & 6 Lois Stavsky

Note: Photo 3 features a collaboration with Alisha S aka Little Nugget Workshop, and the fourth photo features a collaboration with Alisha S aka Little Nugget Workshop, Viviana Rambay and Glenys Rivas.

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Several artists — whose artworks I had first discovered several months ago on plywood in Soho — have continued to share their visions and talents in Harlem…this time on kiosks. Featured above is the work of Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist  Konstance Patton aka KonArtStudio. What follows are some more public artworks I recently came upon while walking west on 125th Street:

Also by Konstance Patton aka KonArtStudio

Multimedia artist Sule Marquez-Monsanto 

Brooklyn-based artist Manuel Alejandro Pulla aka The Creator

The hugely talented visual artist Brendan T Mcnally in collaboration with artist/activist Amir Diop

And some words of wisdom–

Note: Konstance Patton, Sule, Brendan T McNally and Amir Diop — all members of the Soho Renaissance Factory — have been busy at work inside a huge studio space in Soho.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Curated earlier this month by the infinitely creative Chip Love, the walls on Troutman and Seneca — on the Queens side of the Ridgewood-Bushwick border — seethe with style and swirl with rhythm. The image featured above was fashioned by the legendary Greg Lamarche. Several more recent walls designed for this project, labeled #troutmanrock, follow:

Veteran writer Bisuno

Queens-based Diego

Bro000ski does Snoopy vs the Red Baron

Veteran style writer Strider

The distinctly-talented Paris-born, NYC-based Seb Gorey

Graff masters Arbor and Dmote aka Shank

Veteran writer and graffiti historian Spar One 

Hence’s homage to Ridgewood

Photo credits: 1-3; 5, 6, 8 & 9 Lois Stavsky; 4 & 7 courtesy #troutmanrock curator Chip Love

Note: Chip Love is now at work curating a series of walls in Jamaica, Queens. ‘looking forward to seeing those!

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