Walls

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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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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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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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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On view at the prestigious National Arts Club through January 27, 2021 is Voices of the Soho Renaissance, an exhibition showcasing several artworks that had first surfaced on the plywood used to board up stores in Soho earlier this year. For those of us who first saw these works in their original sites, it is a delight to view them in such a stately setting. And if you missed seeing them earlier on, this is your chance!

The image featured above, The River Unconscious, is the work of the immensely talented Brooklyn-based artist Brendan T McNally. Additional images of artworks by members of the The Soho Renaissance Factory (SRF) on view follow:

Politically conscious African-American, Brooklyn-bred Amir Diop, “Samson and the 400 Years of Bondage”

Lebanese-American glass and light artist Trevor Croop AKA Light Noise in collaboration with Amir Diop, “We Are Used in Your Wars Even Though We Can Be Gone in a Flash”

Trevor Croop AKA Light Noise, “Change”

Native New Yorker Sulé whose masked characters don timely political slogans, “My Execution Might Be Televised”

Indigenous American multimedia artist Konstance Patton, “Godezz Mildred of Peace and Comforter of the Inner Child”

Brooklyn-based  Manuel Alejandro Pulla aka The Creator, “Brooklyn Bridge March for Justice”

Along with these artworks on exhibit are more than two dozen photographs documenting these extraordinary times — when protests were sweeping our streets daily — by acclaimed photographer Graham Macindoe.

Located at 15 Gramercy Park South, the galleries at the National Arts Club are open Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Admission is free, and you can make a reservation by filling out this form.

Photos: 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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