Community Arts

While checking out several new murals at Underhill Walls in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn last week, I was delighted to discover a new open air gallery just a few blocks away.  Located at Washington Avenue and Clark Place and, also, curated by community resident and leader Jeff Beler, it hosts a captivating array of murals. A brief interview with Jeff Beler — its founder — follows:

What a wonderful addition go the neighborhood! What motivated you to launch this new project, Washington Walls?

I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 17 years and this spot had always been an eyesore.  It had originally been a garage, but it had been empty for years — with damaged panels in need of replacement.

How did you made this transformation happen — in terms of permissions?

I spoke to the contractor who contacted the owner of the property. The panels were replaced, and I was given the “Go ahead!”

When did it officially launch? And how did it go?

In February — right after Valentines Day. The entire community pitched in. Kids got involved. Everything went beautifully, and we all had fun!

These walls feature such a wide range of talents, styles and themes. I am familiar with many of the artists from Underhill Walls and elsewhere, yet several are new to me. How were you able to engage so many artists? And how did they find out about this project?

I put up a post on Instagram that I was seeking artists to paint, and the response was great.

What’s ahead?

A second edition of Washington Walls in September. We are also planning to launch shirts, tote bags, prints and stickers, along with a  book documenting the past seven years of Underhill Walls. And currently we are completing the newest set of murals at Underhill Walls featuring TV Nostalgia.

Murals:

  1. Uncutt Art
  2. Calicho Arevalo — with Jeff Beler on the left
  3. Paulie Nassar
  4. Jaima
  5. Outer Source
  6. Majo San
  7. Carnivorous Flora

Photos: Lois Stavsky

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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Under the curatorial eye of Jeff Beler, Vanderbilt Avenue — between  Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street — has been transformed into an oasis of color and positivity. The delightful image featured above was painted by Brooklyn-based artist Jaima. Several more artworks that have recently surfaced on the block’s barriers follow:

Artist and designer Jason Naylor

Multimedia artist Subway Doodle

Muralist and designer Majo Barajas aka Majo San and Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo

New Jersey-bred, NYC-based artist and designer Marco Santini

Artist and graphic designer Zero Productivity

Muralist and illustrator Miki Mu with some great advice–

Included, too, in this project are the talents of  Vince Ballentine, Raddington Falls and Steph Motta. And a particular highlight is the community mural designed by Miki Mu and completed this past Saturday by neighborhood children.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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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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On my first day in more than two months out of Manhattan, I was delighted to visit Underhill Walls in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Curated and managed by Jeff Beler — with safe guidelines practicing social distance —  it is NYC’s first community-based street art project to emerge as the city begins to take steps to open. The image featured above was fashioned by the wonderfully talented Subway Doodle. Several more images I captured yesterday — as the project that began last week continues — follow:

Jason Naylor bringing brightly-hued love

 Zukie’s pepperoni pizza comes to life!

Visual artists and poets Android Oi and My Life in Yellow collaborate

Visual artist and producer Megan Watters at work to the left of  Paolo Tolentino‘s portrait of the late Shirley Chisholm

Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo‘s gift of love

Muralist and designer Majo B gift of beauty

Multidisciplinary visionary Shamanic artist Myztico Campo posing next to his work in progress

Keep posted to the Street Art NYC Instagram for more images from this ongoing project

Photos by Lois Stavsky — with special thanks to Yonkers-based multidisciplinary artist Michael Cuomo for getting me out of Manhattan!

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Curated and managed by Prospect Heights resident Jeff Beler, Underhill Walls, a model community-based mural art project, always delights. Earlier this month, while the streets were still somewhat occupied, I visited Underhill Walls‘ current installation, where over a dozen artists refashioned the covers of some of their favorite books. Featured above is the wonderfully talented Subway Doodle‘s rendition of Maurice Sendak’s classic, Where the Wild Things Are. Several more images that I captured follow:

Zero Productivity refashions A A Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” with Paolo Tolentino‘s rendition of Sara Gruen’s “Water for Elephants” to its right

Gotham Pro Arts Academy students in collaboration with Jeff Beler with some additional assistance from Paulie Nassar

Jaima does Dr. Seuss’s “Horton Hears a Who!”

Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo designs the Herman Melville classic “Moby Dick”

Manhattan-based artist and art teacher Marivel Mejia does Arthur Laurents’ “West Side Story”

Justin Winslow does Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City”

And Paulie Nassar designs the Harper Lee classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” 

Underhill Walls is located at the corner of St. Johns Place and Underhill Avenue in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Founded and curated by Miami-based Registered Artist, the Third Annual aWall Mural Projects took place in South Miami from December 1-8 bringing a diversely rich range of artworks to the Jorge Mas Canosa Middle School. Featured above is Richmond-based Wingchow. Several more images captured by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad follow:

San Diego-based Michelle Ruby aka Mrbbaby

 Massachusetts native Tom Bob

North Carolina-based Dustin Spagnola

 Malaysian artist Kenji Chai and to his right Texas-based Tarbox

Guatemala-born, Texas-based W3R3ON3 

Founded in 2017, the non-profit aWall Mural Projects is “built on the idea that through service, art becomes a catalyst for social change.” Its special emphasis is on transforming schools through large scale art including murals and installations.

Photos:Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad

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Earlier this fall, ST.ART founder Kamilla Sun traveled to Kathmandu, the capital and largest city of Nepal. On a voluntary mission — with money raised through a crowdfunding campaign to procure art supplies — Kamilla taught young Napoli students how to transform their school’s drab, dingy walls into vibrant, colorful ones.  

The “Start With A Dream” project, explains Kamilla Sun, “aims to teach the little builders of the future how to imagine, dream bigger and create.”  The vast majority of Nepal students live in poverty and have had little exposure to the arts.

Renowned NYC-based artists Jason Naylor, Sonni Adrian and Adam Lucas created simple mock-up mural designs that the students easily recreated for their school’s walls under Kamilla’s guidance. Other artists who contributed to the project include Agata Wojcierowska and Natasha May Platt aka Surface of Beauty.

Pictured above are the student participants in front of their collaborative mural, “Dream,” as designed by Jason Naylor, and — below that  — the mural as painted on NYC’s Lower East Side by Jason Naylor and Surface of Beauty.  Several more images — all created by the young Nepali students — follow:

Designed by Sonni Adrian and painted collaboratively by Nepali students

Young artists pictured with ST.ART founder Kamilla Sun

Designed by Adam Lucas and painted collaboratively by Nepali students

Completed mural

Designed by Agata Wojcierowska and painted collaboratively by Nepali students

Completed mural

And you can watch Kamilla talk further about the project and view the youngsters in action here:

All images courtesy ST.ART founder Kamilla Sun

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Beautifying the town for its residents and visitors as it engages members of Akumal’s local community in hands-on activities, the second annual Akumal Arts Festival was held earlier this month. Along with local artists, dozens of artists from around the globe brought their talents to Akumal while paying homage to the coastal town’s Mayan culture. The image featured above was painted by Peruvian artist Joe Fernández Carrasco aka Zelva Uno. Several more images captured by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad while visiting the region follow:

Montpellier, France-based Arnaud DE JESUS GONCALVES aka Arkane

Mexico-based Argentine painter and muralist Jose Dios

NYC-based Chris “Daze” Ellis  posing in front of his mural in the “land of the turtles” — as Akumal is known

Mexican artist Sheick

NYC-based Key Detail

The itinerant Kiptoe

Photos: Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad

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I first met and interviewed Lily Luciole back in 2014 when she came to NYC to share her distinct vision on our streets . Active throughout the globe, but particularly in Montreal and Paris, Lily fashions alluring mixed media images — largely inspired by her African heritage and her quest to reclaim her identity. The artist was back here this past month for a brief visit, and we had a chance to catch up a bit.

The last time we met up you were living in Montreal. Where are you based these days?

I now consider Paris my home.

What motivated you to return to Paris?

My mother is not in good health. She needs my support, and I want to look after her. I, also, feel that seeing new art in a different setting inspires me and stimulates my creativity.

How has your vision changed or evolved within the past few years?

While living in Montreal, my main focus had been street art. But my most recent project, Sortir Les Femmes De L’Ombre (Taking Women Out of the Shadows), engages women in a range of artistic ventures from the visual arts to dance to poetry. Ten women are currently involved, and plans are now underway for a performance and discussion as to the particular challenges faced by Muslim women in the arts.

How would you, then, define the mission of Sortir Les Femmes De L’Ombre?

Its mission is to give underrepresented women opportunities to share their talent, as well as to discover other talented women out there.

What about your own art? In what ways may that have evolved?

My technique is more complex and time-consuming, as I incorporate more embroidery. But it always centers on the representation of women.

What’s ahead?

Raising more funds to further develop Sortir Les Femmes De L’Ombre and working on my own project. I’m, also, interested in becoming involved in exhibitions and events in the northern French city, Lille.

It sounds great. Be sure to keep us posted! 

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits:  1-3, Ana Candelaria; 4  Hervé Sarrazin

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Hosted by Phillips Auction House on #GIVINGTUESDAY, November 27, Cool Culture presents an evening of food, open bar, dancing, raffles, along with sounds by DJ Paz and interactive art by Magda Love. And it’s all for a fabulous cause!

Each year Cool Culture partners with 90 cultural institutions — from museums to botanical gardens — and over 450 schools to provide free and unlimited arts access to 50,000 NYC families.

And in our current political climate, culture matters — perhaps, more now than ever. Next Tuesday evening’s #GIVEtoGET2018 is the ideal way to support a fabulous organization, while having a fabulous time!

Date: Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Time: 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM

Location: Phillips Auction House 450 Park Avenue (between 56 & 57th street)

Ticket: Purchase provides you with access to an open bar and appetizer

You can purchase tickets here. We are only 10 days away from #GIVEtoGET2018

All images courtesy Cool Culture; the third image was photographed at the Queens Museum by Margarita Corporan

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