Public Art Projects

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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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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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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The following guest post is by Street Art NYC contributor Houda Lazrak

One week before Dublin went into its second lockdown in October, I visited the city and snapped a few shots of old and new street art pieces. The image featured above is the work of  two Italian artists, Valdis & Tilf.  They painted the piece in 2013 in Smithfield Square as part of the MURO Street Art Festival in Dublin.

Below is a selection of several more artworks from the neighborhoods of Smithfield, City Center and Portobello, crafted mainly by local Irish artists:

Dublin native graffiti artist, muralist and graphic designer Aches

Hand painted portrait by the socially-conscious Dublin-based collective Subset

Dublin-based sign painter and lettering artist Vanessa Power

Irish artist and educator Joe Caslin “I will find a way through this / I am not alone / I will hold on / Look after yourself,” — part of the Look After Yourself campaign by the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy 

Galway, Ireland native Canvaz to the left of veteran Irish artist Jor

Canvaz, closer-up

Photos by Houda Lazrak

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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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When the plywood returned to the streets of Soho shortly before the November presidential election, the artists got busy again. What a treat for us street art lovers! The image pictured above is the work of the increasingly prolific NYC-based Pure Genius. A small sampling of what’s been happening on the streets of Soho follows:

Brooklyn-based Manuel Alejandro Pulla aka The Creator with a call to support small businesses

Eyes that Love Art brings his mixed-media aesthetic to Grand Street plywood

Konstance Patton‘s signature lady with Amir Diop‘s political art to her right

Konstance Patton with a message; Sule on the door to her right and Light Noise above them both

Two short-lived works by One Rad Latina in her signature style

One of several collaborative works by Calicho and Jeff Rose King

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

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Upper Manhattan — the place John Audubon had called home — hosts a huge range of public artworks featuring images of  climate-endangered birds. Within a few blocks of the recently-installed mosaic mural — fashioned by Carlos Pinto and John Sear — over a dozen murals have made their way into the neighborhood since I’d last documented the hugely impressive Audubon Mural Project back in 2018.

The image featured above, “Goose Gets Down,” was recently painted by the legendary NYC-based Snoeman. Several more murals of endangered birds follow — all curated by Avi Gitler, who founded and spearheads this remarkable  project.

Brooklyn-based George Boorujy, Gang of Warblers

Also by George Boorujy, Greater Sage-Grouse

Australian-born Jacinta Stewart, American Three-toed Woodpecker and Bullock’s Oriole — segment of larger mural that also features a Red-breasted Sapsucker

Harlem-based Marthalicia Matarrita, Gray Hawk

And as seen last week at the New York Historical Society on the Upper West Side: Brooklyn-based Australian native Damien Mitchell, Peregrine Falcon, photographed by Mike Fernandez/Audubon

Photo credits: 1 City-as-School student Jasper Shepard; 2-6 Lois Stavsky

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163rd Street off Broadway was the place to be last week.  Multidisciplinary artists Carlos Pinto and John Sear brought their wondrous skills to The Audubon Mural Project, adding two elegant trumpeter swans to the approximately 100 uptown murals featuring endangered birds. The Audubon Project’s first mosaic mural fashioned entirely with recycled objects — from shards of glass to shattered plates  — garnered a huge welcome from the neighborhood, with volunteers eager to assist in the process.

Featured above is the completed mural that was captured this past Monday. The images that follow were taken last week as the mural was still in progress:

Carlos Pinto at work

And from another angle

John Sear at work

The artists take a brief break

Local folks assist Carlos Pinto and John Sear 

John Sear speaks to Audubon Mural Project director and curator Avi Gitler, who is standing next to Totem TC5‘s memorial to his son, Chris — a special, welcome addition to the mural

Photo credits: 1, 2 & 7 Lois Stavsky;  3-6 City-as-School student Jasper Shepard 

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