graffiti art

Whether viewed outdoors or indoors, Kenny Scharf’s infectious aesthetic is always a delicious visual treat. Currently on view at TOTAH on Manhattan’s Lower East Side is WOODZ ‘N THINGZ, a series of dazzling paintings that delight our senses and heighten our consciousness as they reflect the ecological threats our natural world faces — while suggesting alternative ways of dealing with its fragile state.

Pictured above is WOODZ, fashioned in 2022 with oil and acrylic on linen within a powder coated aluminum frame. Several more images from the legendary artist’s second solo exhibition at TOTAH follow:

ZPRUNGZ, 2022, Oil and acrylic on linen with powder coated aluminum frame, 70 x 90 inches

Kelp Us, 2022, Oil, acrylic, spray paint & silk screen ink on linen with powder coated aluminum frame, 48 x 60 inches

WORLDZEND, 2022, Oil and acrylic on linen with powder coated aluminum frame, 70 x 90 inches

PHILIPS TIME TO GO, 2022 Oil on Phillips flat screen TV, 20 x 30 x 5 inches

Located at 183 Stanton Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, TOTAH is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11AM to 6PM.

Photos of images:  1 & 3 Lois Stavsky, 2, 4 & 5 Atlas Torres 

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The following post is by Newark-based arts educator, writer and photographer Rachel Alban

I returned this past Saturday to the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ to revisit On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey which remains on view through this Sunday, February 27. Curated by Lois Stavsky with my assistance, it is “the first museum exhibition to examine the duality of New Jersey artists whose creative versatility extends from the street to the studio.”

Working with Lois on this exhibit was meaningful on so many levels. It gave me the opportunity to connect with artists throughout NJ after a year of living almost entirely virtually. And introducing some of our favorite artists to new audiences and presenting them in such an elegant setting was especially wonderful.

The above photograph featuring a couple viewing a detail of Rorshach‘s huge mural was taken this past Saturday. Several more photos follow — some captured this past weekend, and others as far back as late summer.

Flemington-based artist James Kelewae aka Luv One to the left of the Newark-based duo Rorshach

Jersey City native Will Power, segment of his mural “1984,” a throwback to his childhood

Multidisciplinary artist Clarence Rich to the left of Jersey City-based Emilio Florentine

Newark-based Layqa Nuna Yawar painting the US golden dollar coin depicting a representation of Sacagawea and her son

The late Newark-based legendary multidisciplinary artist Jerry Gant, a segment of a special installation of his works

Jersey City-based Mr Mustart’s strikingly intriguing mural captures this visitor

Noted stencil master Joe Iurato to the left of Jersey City-based artist and arts educator Catherine Hart

New Brunswick native RH Doaz with a glimpse of Catherine’s mural

Located at 6 Normandy Heights Road in Morristown, NJ, the Morris Museum is open Wednesday – Sunday, 11:00AM to 5:00PM. Just a few more days remain to check out On and Off the Streets: Urban Art Jersey

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by the Joseph Robert Foundation and Loop Colors.

Photos: Rachel Alban

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Clarence Rich has been enriching the streets of Jersey City for over a decade. His impressive multi-faceted body of both street art and studio art ranges from curious characters to poignant portraits of family members to harmonious rhythmic pattern. I was delighted to feature his infectious aesthetic in the exhibition On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey that continues through this month at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey. An interview with the artist follows:

When and where did you first get up?

When I was 13 or 14. In 1997, I had my first real tag.

Had you any preferred surface back then?

Anything and everything around me.

Did anyone or anything in particular inspire you at the time?

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s in Jersey City, I saw graffiti everywhere. Along with skateboarding and playing basketball, kids were always writing their names, tagging… It’s almost as though everybody’s older brother did graffiti – including mine. He’s two years older than I am, and he has been my partner since the beginning. I wrote LOSER as my tag. and he wrote DZEL, and together we started the AIDS (And It Don’t Stop; Alone In Deep Space) crew. And there were a few main people getting up in the neighborhood who were amazing. Among them was T.DEE. He was the founder of Undercover, the first graffiti magazine.

What about the name Loser? How did you come up with it?

We used to hang out in the parks and sit on the stoops. And one of our neighbors walked by and saw the graffiti and said, “What kinds of losers do this shit?”

Do any early graffiti-related memories come to mind?

There were just so many amazing things that changed my life. Meeting so many great artists who inspired me. That was a blessing. But here’s a story: We’re also rappers. Our original rap group was called AIDS — Adolescents In Dire Straits; Alone In Deep Space…We started tagging it on walls, but we never thought it would go anywhere. And so once we started our crew, then we had to switch our rap name to the “Animal Crackas.”

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I’d rather collaborate because my crew is so amazing. It’s now 20 years old.

Is there anyone, in particular, with whom you’d like to collaborate?

Rembrandt.

Have you any thoughts about the street art/graffiti divide?

I’m right in the middle. We’re bridging it. We’re not just graffiti writers. We are evolving. Many of us are transitioning from graffiti to street art to fine art. And we do all three. Some of the most amazing writers are also fine artists.

How do you feel about the movement of graffiti and street art into galleries and museums?

I’m so happy! I’ve put together amazing shows in galleries for these past ten years. But to hang in a museum? Even that word! It’s huge for an artist.

What about the corporate world? How do you feel about street artists and writers collaborating with corporations?

Let’s get their money. I got this two-year old. I have to make money, and I don’t want to always have a day job working with fire alarms. I want to be an artist who paints whatever it is I want to paint whenever I want to paint it.

How do you feel about the role of social media in this scene?

I’m just trying to ride the wave. If you’re not on it, you’re missing a big audience.

Have you a formal art education?

Yes. My mom encouraged me to get one. I studied Fine and Commercial Arts at DuCret School of the Arts in Plainfield, NJ. It was the best thing I ever did in my life. It helped me find out who I was. But it’s also in my blood. My grandparents worked as animators for Terry Tunes, and my grandfather was one of the animators for Beavis and Butthead.

How would you describe your ideal working environment?

I’d paint anywhere. I just need time to paint! Now that I’m a dad, I get up most mornings at 4 – just so that I could have time to paint.

What inspires you these days?

For now, my son inspires me. Becoming a father was the ultimate change in life. I want to be a good man, and provide for him and his mom.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Hip-hop, 100%.

Is there a central theme that ties your work together?

I’d have to say “family.” I’ve always been inspired by my mom and the women in my life, and just painting a woman is a beautiful connection to women. I can paint any female face and it becomes familial to me.

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

When I work on walls, I let it flow. I just freestyle.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece? And how do you know when it’s finished?

Never. I’m never satisfied with anything!

How important are others’ reactions to you?

It always feels good when you hear people say that they like your work.

How has your work evolved through the years?

It’s moving in the direction of fine art.

Have you any preferred colors?

Blue. Why? Picasso. And there’s more. I take pride in myself that I don’t use fancy paints. I don’t put tips on my cans. I just go to Home Depot or the hardware store and I buy the colors they have. And the color blue has so many variations.

What media do you currently most enjoy working with?

Most of my work is mixed media.

How has the work you’ve done on the streets impacted your studio work?

They’ve influenced each other. They’ve both evolved. Sometimes I feel more comfortable painting with a brush. But I want to do both. I want to make money from fine art and still paint on the streets.

 

How has your artwork evolved in the past several years? And how does your studio work differ from your street art?

I keep pushing it as an artist. My body of work is constantly evolving. When I work in my studio, I do it in smaller increments in multiple sessions. When I do a piece on the street, it usually takes me a day. And I haven’t yet broken into doing large-scale portraits in my studio with spray paint. I’ve done a few, and I’d like to do more. And sometimes things just happen. Like I stumbled upon creating patterns, and people really like them. I think they’re among my best work.

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits:  1 & 2 Sara C Mozeson; 3 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 4, 6, 7  & 8   Rachel Alban

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This past fall, under the curatorial direction of veteran graff writer Wen Cod, over two dozen artists once again brought their blazing talents to Boone Avenue in the Bronx. The vibrant image featured above was painted by the hugely talented Blame1, a member of both FX and the Slaughter House Krew. Several more exhilarating images follow:

Stylemaster Doc TC5

Queens native graffiti writer and fashion designer Claw Money

The inventive graff pioneer Cycle

Veteran writer and illustrator Wore One

The delightfully imaginative Long Island-based Phetus

The hugely skilled artist and typographer Queen Andrea

The ever-deft Bronx-native Yes One

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

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Since 2002, Meeting of Styles has been sponsoring and organizing first-rate graffiti festivals throughout the world. Earlier this fall, the first Newark NJ Edition of MOS — under the curatorial direction of  Get Lost Alot — brought local, national and international artists together to celebrate and share their talents in Brick City. Last week, photojournalist and arts educator Rachel Alban and I visited one of its key locations along Raymond Boulevard.

The stylish, colorful writing featured above was spray painted by the seemingly nomadic John Connor aka All About Letters.  And the bold image to its right was fashioned by the masterly Mexican tattoo artist Yeer THC.

Several more artworks we came upon on and off Raymond Boulevard follow:

West Coast-based artist and curator Espy

 German/Croatian artist Kosmik One

Bronx-bred artist El Souls 

Graffiti writer Tense One in collaboration with multimedia artist YN ART/Art by Prop

Graffiti stylemaster Revenge

The prolific NYC-based artists Wane One and Adam Fu

We look forward to coming upon more walls painted during Brick City’s “Meeting of Styles” in future graffiti- hunts within Newark!

Photo credits: 1-4, 6 & 7 Lois Stavsky; 5 Rachel Alban 

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Back at the Bushwick Collective this past week, we came upon a diverse range of murals, ranging from masterly stencil art to first-rate graffiti. Featured above is Joe Iurato‘s now-familiar boy with the message, “The more things change…” a delightful flashback to his 2013 mural, pictured below:

Several more images captured this past week include:

South African multimedia artist Sonny Sundancer

Stylemaster Roachi

Barcelona-born, NYC-based multimedia artist Gemma Gené

    Noted Argentine stencil artist Cabaio Spirito

Photo credits: 1 Ana Candelaria; 2 Tara Murray, and 3-6 Lois Stavsky

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Based in Manizales, Colombia, Sebastian Jiménez aka SEPC first hit the walls of his hometown with letters 12 years ago. “I never would have imagined at that time that my entire life would revolve around urban art,” he relates. “My whole life is now focused on going out and leaving a little of my art everywhere that is possible.”

The image featured above was recently painted by SEPC in his hometown of Manizales. Characteristic of the artist’s public art, it is wonderfully photorealistic with elements reflecting his career as a visual designer. And like most of his street art, it is specific to the culture of its particular site.

Several more images of SEPC‘s artworks follow:

Painted in La Dorada, Caldas for Festival Territorio Urbano with the support of Fundación REDES, 2020

Painted in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, 2018

Painted in Manizales, 2018

Painted in Bahai, Brazil for Festival Bahia de Todas as Cores, 2018

And like so many street artists across the globe, SEPC has paid also homage to several NYC-based hip-hop legends. The following mural featuring Nas was painted last year in SEPC’s hometown, Manizales.

SEPC will be visiting NYC for the first time in mid-June and is seeking opportunities to share his talents with us. The artist can be contacted at juan.jimenez.dv@gmail.com.

All photos courtesy of the artist

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Hosting a striking array of graffiti styles, the walls off the Broadway Junction subway station teem with sumptuous colors and seductive rhythms.  The image featured above is the work of Long Island-bred artist WERD. Several more images captured on our recent visit to “the juncyard” follow:

The masterful Noah TFP

The inimitable Ceos

The dexterous Rezor — who regularly brings his curatorial skills to these walls

Stylemaster Such

Veteran writer Doc TC5

Classic writer Wore One

Photo credits:  1 & 2 A. Candela; 3-7 Lois Stavsky

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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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While exploring the streets on and off Atlantic Avenue in the East New York section of Brooklyn this past Sunday, I came upon a wall of classic graffiti painted by several members of the long-running, Brooklyn-born Ex Vandals crew. Pictured above is veteran style master 2il taking a brief break from his work in progress.  Several more images follow:

Old school graffiti artist Keon

Multimedia artist Panic Rodriguez does Kanye West with classic graffiti writer Clyde to his right

And graffiti veteran Gap RNS at work

Much respect to these pioneers who paved the way to so many–

Photos credit: Lois Stavsky

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