graffiti

Focusing on street art, graffiti and creative urban culture, UP is a provocative cutting-edge NYC-based quarterly magazine.  Launched in spring 2019, each issue spotlights a specific theme. Its first (sold-out) issue features several articles on money-related issues, and its second highlights matters of travel and place, as they relate to urban culture.

Lower East Side-based photographer Anna Candelaria introduced me to UP, and I was impressed by its in-depth coverage of the contemporary global urban art scene. Last week, Ana joined me as I met up with its chief editor, T.K. Mills.

Can you tell us a bit about UP Magazine‘s mission?

Our mission is to provide the art community with provocative writing that reflects the critical issues of our generation. We strive to present to our readers high-quality articles that investigate, inform, and entertain. Like good art, UP Magazine is made to make you think and make you feel.

What attracted you to urban culture? Particularly street art and graffiti?

After I had received my Masters Degree in Global Affairs from NYU, I wasn’t quite sure what direction my life would take. Shortly after Trump was elected President, I decided to visit Cuba. That’s where I first discovered my love for graffiti. I kept seeing 2+2=5. It seemed to be written everywhere. At first I couldn’t figure it out, and then I realized it was a reference to George Orwell’s 1984  — which certainly seemed relevant at the time. I even got to meet the artist. From that point on, I began paying close attention to the writing on the wall!

Before launching UP Magazine, had you any experience writing on this topic for other publications?

Yes, I wrote for several platforms including Sold Magazine, Open Letter and Art Fuse. I was also hired by a company, Saga, to interview West Coast-based street artists. When the company ended up not publishing my interviews after taking a different direction, a few of us began thinking about starting a new publication that would focus on urban culture.

How did you assemble such a dedicated and talented staff? 

Awhile back, I met Vittoria Benzine, a Brooklyn-based street art journalist and personal essayist, outside McNally Jackson Bookstore in Soho. As we began talking, we discovered our common interest in urban art. She then introduced me to Christina Elia, a freelance writer with a BA in Art History Communications. From there the crew grew to close to a dozen people, including street photographer Lonnie Richards, our Director of  Videography.

You have produced two excellent issues, each over 100 pages. What were some of your challenges in seeing this through?

The biggest and main challenge is finding sponsors and raising money to make this magazine happen.

Where is Up headed?

The only direction is up. We plan to further develop and expand our print and online presence. And we are looking forward to the launch of our third edition — with its focus on community — this spring.

That sounds great! I’m certainly looking forward to your next issue. And good luck with it all!

Note: Be sure to check out Up Magazine’s website and online shop. And with the promo code streetartnyc you can purchase issue II of Up Magazine at 25% off.

Interview conducted and edited for brevity by Lois Stavsky with Anna Candelaria

Images

1 Illustration of T.K. Mills by Vanessa Kreytak

2 Cover of Issue #1 featuring artwork by Fumero

3 Spread from Issue #2,”The Banksy Tunnel,” written by Candelaria Barandiaran with photos by Sabrina Ortolani

UP pop-up in Miami

5 Photo of T.K. Mills by Gabriel Ortiz, Jr

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Under the curatorial skills and direction of NJ-based Darrius-Jabbar Sollas aka Nasty Neo, the rotating walls in Hackensack’s Union Street Park brim with bold rhythms and swooping patterns. Featured above is the work of NYC-bred, Jersey City-based Raul Rubio aka Sue Works. Several more recently-captured images follow:

New York-based Jamie Hef

Bronx native Yes One

Brooklyn-based 5PointzCreates founder Meres One

Bronx native Abe BT5

Bronx native Pase BT

Bronx Team veteran writer Jew

A segment of the park — featuring (from left to right) TenseOneMeres OneSue Works, Sade TCM, HefPase and Jew

Photos: Dani Reyes Mozeson

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Always a treasure trove of first-rate graffiti, North Philly’s 5th Street and Cecil B Moore, along with its immediate surroundings, has expanded since my last visit. There are now additional walls — curated by Tameartz —  in the new performance and event venue, Sunflower Philly. Featured above is the work of Philly-based Saoka DRR with Imse DBR to his right. What follows are several more murals that I came upon last week in the general location:

BustaImse, Desilmula, Michael Pistash and Tameartz 

Seoz

Rams

Medic

Alex25 and Veer

Easy B2B

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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The following guest poet is by Lower East Side-based photographer Ana Candelaria:

Curated by Fernando “Ski” Romero, Here & Now honors the works of Bronx graffiti legends Tats Cru a.k.a The Mural Kings and the legendary John “Crash” Matos “for laying the groundwork for so many other aspiring artists and helping establish Graffiti for the true art form that it is.” Also featured alongside Tats Cru and Crash are the works of Daze, Nick WalkerEric Orr and curator Ski. The exhibition continues through January 12 at Pop International, 195 Bowery at Spring Street.

The image feature above, Dreams Don’t Die, was fashioned by Bio Tats Cru with spray paint, markers and ink on canvas. Several more images follow:

Nicer Tats Cru, The Mattress, Acrylic and spray paint on canvas

BG 183 Tats Cru, The Night That Never Sleeps, Mixed media on canvas

Crash, Silver Color Swatch, Spray paint on canvas

Daze, The Dark Night, Oil, acrylic, spray paint on canvas

Nick Walker, RGB Supreme, Mixed media on canvas

Eric Orr, Painting, Mixed media on canvas

Fernando “Ski “Romero, Break Up, Mixed media on canvas

Gallery hours are: Monday through Saturday 10:00am to 7:00pm; Sunday 11:00am to 6:00pm or by appointment 212.533.4262.

Photos of artworks:  2-4, 7 & 8 Ana Candelaria; 1, 5 & 6 Lois Stavsky

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Curated by Museum of Graffiti co-founder Alan Ket, the museum’s exterior and the immediate environs host over a dozen murals in a range of graffiti styles. The exquisitely-crafted mural featured above was fashioned collaboratively by: Hiero Veiga, Bacon and Quake. Several more of these recent murals, captured by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad this past week, follow:

UK-based Lovepusher in his inimitable 3D style

Eurotrash at work, and to his left — Miami-native James Monk aka Rasterms 

Miami’s Sinse at work with Amsterdam-based calligraffiti master Niels Meulman a.k.a. Shoe‘s “Museum of Graffiti” signage looming in the background

NYC-based graff masters Ces, Yes2, Doves and Mast

Miami native Abstrk with Lima-based Entes

Photos: Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad 

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Opening this week in Wynwood, Miami is the Museum of Graffiti, the world’s first museum dedicated solely to graffiti art.  Fostering an understanding of the work of the pioneering graffiti artists, who started tagging in the New York subways in the early 1970s, the museum’s permanent exhibition, under the curatorial direction of Alan Ket, features paintings, photographs, mixed media sculptures, assorted memorabilia and interactive installations “that will allow visitors to travel through time and learn about the evolution of the worldwide graffiti art movement.”

Featured above is veteran all-city writer Charles Henry aka Flip One, captured back in the day by graffiti writer and photographer Flint Gennari.  Several more photos, taken by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad while previewing the Museum of Graffiti last week, follow:

Museum co-founder and lead curator Alan Ket

Vintage spray paint cans 

NYC-based writers Ghost aka Cousin Frank and Giz

Graffiti pioneers Mare139, Blade, Ero, Sonic Bad and Lady Pink

Masters Mare139Doze Green, Defer and JonOne

Defer , closer up

And the branding of the art form

Also featured at the Museum of Graffiti’s inaugural exhibition is a special exhibit showcasing works by Amsterdam-based calligraffiti master Niels Meulman a.k.a. Shoe. Open daily, except for Tuesday, from 11am to 7pm, the Museum of Graffiti is located in the heart of Wynwood at 299 NW 25th Street, Miami. And in addition to what is housed and takes place indoors, the exterior boasts a range of rotating murals by first-rate graffiti artists.

Photos: Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad 

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Currently living between Paris and Los Angeles, Belgium-born filmmaker Cedric Godin was recently in New York City for the US premiere of his award-winning film, “X art,” at the Chelsea Film Festival. After viewing the insightful film and panel discussion featuring Patty Astor, Henry Chalfant, Enrique Torres aka Part One and Nick Walker — moderated by Marie Cecile Flageul — we  posed a few questions to Cedric.

What inspired you to produce this film?

I had just completed my first film, PTSD, and had returned from California to Paris. I wanted to get back to work as soon as possible, and as I was seeing street art exhibitions and events everywhere, I decided to do a documentary about the street art movement and culture. Even though I had followed the movement since 2012, I never really thought of doing something on it until I returned to Paris from California.

What is the significance/meaning of your film’s title, “X art?”

After I decided to do a documentary, I started to research the street art culture. Rapidly, I realized how complex the world of street art is. So many artists, techniques, movements, markets… It appeared to me that as street art is such a huge subject, it would be an interesting challenge to get people to better understand it. I had a working title but after a few months “X art” came, as the X suggested “the unknown,” “the transgression,” “the X factor” and more.

So I chose the letter X to start  from “the unknown” —  in order to learn and digress to a point where it would become clearer for an audience and hopefully awaken within viewers the curiosity to investigate the culture on their own after seeing the film.

How did you go about choosing/deciding which artists to focus on?

They had to have a career, a real social or political message in their work, a continuity in their journey and an artistic goal. It was important for me that the artists had enough experience on every level to be able to transmit their passion, techniques and journey to as large an audience as possible.

When did you begin filming “X art”

I started to meet with artists in 2016.

In the film there is a focus not only on the artists and their artwork, but also on the art market. Why did you choose to turn your lens on this aspect of the scene?

Simply because these days, you can’t avoid the financial aspects of things. Fortunately or unfortunately, the market has a big influence on how artists develop their careers. Of course, there are pros and cons, but I wanted to give the audience an idea of what’s happening. From there they could visit galleries, events and auction houses and form their own opinions on the subject.

Did anything in your findings particularly surprise you? In what ways may have making this film personally impacted you? Do you find yourself paying more attention to street art and graffiti?

Of course, I do pay more attention. It is funny to see how my eye, three years later, is more “educated.” When I see a painting or a wall, I can recoup more information to understand and form an opinion on that particular piece. I have also learned how to be a good collector.

What were some of the challenges you faced in seeing this project through?

The usual challenge of being an “indie” filmmaker… time and money. Fortunately, the world of street art is a very generous world for the most part. 99% of the artists were just amazingly helpful. My friend and partner Olivier Le Quellec, a street art fan, financed the project with me. Dotmaster and Ben Eine, two famous UK-based artists, offered to design the poster. Eric Brugier, the French gallerist, connected me to several artists who themselves connected me to more. I think you can’t get into this world if you are not well-connected, but once you are in, you feel like a family member.

How have viewers responded to it?

Amazingly! The most touching thing is when people come up to me and say they have learned something; some are even motivated to further research artists or elements they weren’t aware of.  To me, if filmmaking has a purpose. It is to learn and to transmit.

What would you like your viewers to walk away with?

The will to go deeper into the subject  —  to read, to research, to see events, to meet artists. And we have an incredible chance to be able to do it.

What’s next?

Ideally to secure distribution for “X art,” as I humbly think that this little film has its cultural role to play. I’m currently working on a TV show and a feature film. I work in so many directions these days that I couldn’t tell you what is going to happen next…I will let you know very soon!

Congratulations on “X art.  We certainly hope it is widely distributed and, yes, we are looking forward to what’s next!

Images:

  1. Film poster designed by UK-based artists Dotmaster and Ben Eine
  2. Cedric Godin
  3. Film clip featuring Ben Eine and Pure Evil
  4. Parisian graffiti artist Nasty
  5. Patti Astor, co-founder of the legendary FUN Gallery
  6. Henry Chalfant, noted American photographer and videographer, whose current exhibit, Art vs. Transit, 1977-1987, at the Bronx Museum is a must-see!
  7. The famed UK-born street artist Nick Walker at “X art” Chelsea screening

Photo credits 1, 2, 4 – 6 courtesy Cedric Godin; 7 Ana Candelaria 

Interview questions: Houda Lazrak, Ana Candelaria and Lois Stavsky

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The wonderfully talented Menace Two and Resa Piece have merged their sensibilities and skills to fashion a captivatingly stunning array of murals that have made their way not only throughout NYC, but across the country. I was delighted to have the opportunity meet up with them in their Bushwick home that they’ve aptly titled “Street Art Sanctuary ” — a spacious  graffiti/street art haven that Menace and Resa also host as an Airbnb. 

When and where did you first get up? And what inspired you to do so?

Resa: I started in 2015. The first wall I ever did was in the Bronx, but I painted mostly in Brooklyn at the time – often in Bushwick. What inspired me to? While I was living in Flushing, I used to regularly ride past 5Pointz on the 7 train. I thought it was all so amazing. I remember thinking, “Why would someone do this?” But it was awhile before I actually did it!   The sense that I had something to prove – that a female could create artwork on the same level as any established male artist — also drove me.

Menace: I was in the 7th grade in a local Queens public school. I was always drawing on my desk — anime at the time. One of the kids sitting next to me said I’d be good at graffiti. He introduced me to graffiti, encouraged me and invited me to join his crew, BTC. That was the beginning. I was 12 years old.

You’ve both painted in both illegal and in sanctioned places. Which do you prefer?

Illegal. Painting “without permission” is far more validating!

Have you exhibited your work in gallery settings?

The streets are our gallery.

What about the increasing engagement of street artists and graffiti writers with the corporate world? Would you consider such a collaboration?

It depends. No one can dictate to us what can or cannot do.

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

Our job is to bridge it! It’s all about respect.

What is your main source of income?

Painting commissions.

Did you have you a formal art education?

Resa: I did not attend a specialized art college, but at Binghamton, I majored in both Art History and Studio Art. I will always remain grateful to the late Professor George Dugan for his support and encouragement.

Menace: I studied Graphic Design in college, but I never graduated.

How does your family feel about your passion for art?

Resa: My mom initially fostered it. She enrolled me in art classes when I was eight years old. But then when I wanted to go to an art college, her response was, “You’re too smart to be an artist.” And so she encouraged me to go into the art business. But after interning at Christy’s and working for a collector, I came to understand that the art market is driven by billionaires. I know now that I want to focus on creating my own art and not marketing other artists to the richest 1 per cent. And at this point, my mom understands and respects what I’m doing.

Menace: They intensely disliked my passion for graffiti. I was often getting into graffiti-related trouble in school, and any time my parents saw me writing graffiti, they’d scream at me.  They couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t just “draw something pretty.” My father and I fought just about every day. But my parents have since come to accept me. It helped that in honor of our mothers we painted a mural featuring a tiger mom embracing her cub for the Boogie Down event at the Bronx Zoo for Mothers Day, 2018.

When you paint in public spaces, do you work with a sketch-in-hand or just let it flow?

We generally work with Photoshop mock-ups.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece? 

Generally, we are.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

100 %.

Have you any other interests or passions?

Resa: Not many.

Menace: Video games.

Are there any particular cultures that have inspired your aesthetic?

Hip-hop and New York flavor, in general.

Who are some of your favorite artists? Artists who have inspired you?

Resa: There are so many – BK Foxx, Royyal Dog, El Mac, Meres, Jerms, Topaz, Seen, Skeme

Menace:Reach Eight, Glossblack, Revok, Saber, MSK

How has your work evolved in recent years?

It’s gotten much better. While touring the country, we felt we had to prove something at each stop!

In your cross-country venture — #paintloveacrossamerica — you hit several key cities from Philly to LA painting a range of spectacular murals — some with permission and others without. Does any particular memory stand out?

When we had reached LA, we asked an established street art organization to help us find a legal wall. When assistance didn’t come our way, we found — on our own — one of the largest walls in the heart of the LA  arts district. When the cops rolled up, we didn’t know what to expect, but they expressed appreciation for our work. And when the owner came by, we convinced him that we are in the process of beautifying his property. The final mural — one of our favorite ones — is a visual representation of our collective prayers.

No doubt that what hat you painted was a gift  — however ephemeral — to the city!  What’s ahead?

More painting, of course! And our ultimate goal is to create a community center that serves as a base for us to teach painting and mural-making skills to others.

That sounds wonderful! And thanks for sharing your talents and visions with so many of us.

Images:

1 “Madonna Menace” in Bushwick, JMZ Walls

2 Close-up of Resa and Menace captured at work in Bushwick, JMZ Walls

3 “What a Wonderful World,” portrait of Louis Armstrong, in Esst Harlem, GrandScale Mural Project

4 “When the whole world is silent/Even one voice becomes powerful,” portrait of Malala in Bushwick

5 “Believe in the Reality of Your Dreams,” in Bushwick

6 “Real Eyes Realize Real Lies,” portrait of Tupac in Wynwood

7 “Protect,” Unsanctioned mural in LA’s arts district

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1-3 Lois Stavsky; 4 & 5 Ana Candelaria; 6 & 7 Courtesy of  Menace and Resa

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The following guest poet is by Lower East Side-based photographer Ana Candelaria

After two decades of attending classes at Seward Park High School — when I wasn’t hanging out in the parking lot! — I was back. I never thought I would be. This time, though, it was to hang on the rooftop with some of my favorite graffiti and street artists. Featured above is  IMOK (If Mother Only Knew) Crew member Cycle at work. Several more works that I captured this past Saturday follow:

The masterly Queen Andrea

The legendary Part One

  Veteran graffiti writer Dez aka the wildly popular DJ Kay Slay — in the early stages 

Ex-Vandals Will Power and Albertus Joseph, tribute piece to WBO Featherweight Champion, Amanda Serrano

French artist and DJ Jaek El Diablo

The masterful Mast

Photos by Lower East Side-based photographer Ana Candelaria

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This is the 15th in a series of occasional posts featuring the range of faces that have surfaced in NYC open spaces. The image above featuring Lauryn Hill was painted by the Brooklyn-based “dynamic duo,” Menace Two and Resa Piece with JMZ Walls.  Several more images of captivating faces that I’ve come upon in my relatively recent meanderings follow:

San Juan, Puerto Rico-based Son Coro in Bushwick

Mexican-born, NYC-based Maria De Los Angeles, painted on glass at Pratt Institute on West 14th Street

Netherlands-based Michel Velt at the Bushwick Collective

Asian-Canadian multi-media artist Jess X Snow, curated for Art in Ad Places by Dusty Rebel in the Village

Sicilian duo Rosk & Loste at the Bushwick Collective

UK-based Dreph at the GrandScale Mural Project in East Harlem

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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