NYC

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

Born in Rochester, New York and currently based in Queens, City Kitty makes his presence wherever he happens to be. And each piece that he creates is distinctly intriguing. 

When did you first discover your love for art?

I’ve always loved art, and it’s always been a part of my life. I come from a very artistic family. My grandparents were both painters. They met when they were students at Pratt. My mother was a singer. I, myself, was a musician for many years, and my brother is a musician. It’s just something that has always been encouraged.

Do you have a formal art education?

Yes. My undergraduate degree is in Art Education from Nazareth College in Rochester. I worked as a substitute teacher for a bit, but I did not end up pursuing teaching as a career. I then went back to school and earned an MFA in Painting from the University of Albany, where I taught undergraduate courses in drawing for two years. I have an entirely different career in the Fine Arts. That work looks nothing like my street art.

On the streets we identify you with your City Kitty character. When was your City Kitty character born? And how did you come up with its design?

I moved to NYC in January 2010. And two months later, I met a couple of friends who were working at the Fountain Art Fair. They ran a collective that I ended up joining, and I started meeting more and more street artists. I used to do graffiti as a kid, and I saw that if I were to do street art, I’d have to make up a character.

So I thought, “All right I’ll come up with a character!” I grew up in a house with five cats. And when I lived in Bushwick, there were two gangs of cats on either side of the adjacent factory, and they were always having kittens.

Do you remember your first City Kitty piece?

Yes, the first thing I did was make a silkscreen. The style of work that I do now is similar to what I did back when I was in a band. When I moved down here, I was still making band posters. But since hanging posters here is illegal, I decided that if I’m going to get into trouble, it might as well be for my own work! That’s when I started burning silk screens. I would make all of my work by hand for the posters, but then I would print them out. I would make one cut paper piece, scan it and print multiple copies and put them out. All the other poster artists that I knew and fell in love with were silkscreen artists, so if I’m going to change gears, I’m going to want to start with silkscreen.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

There are poster artists and fine artists. Jeff Soto is kind of a crossover, as are Michael Motorcycle and Tara McPhearson. Jeff is a great painter, but he also does murals. Tara designs toys that she shows at Comic Con and she’s, also, represented by galleries. I like that balance. I do a lot of posters between working on fine art paintings.

I have seen some of your sketches on MTA service announcement posters on the New York City subway platforms.

Yes! I usually grab the posters on my way to work. I’ll draw them on my lunch break, and I’ll put them up on the way back home. And they get around — as I work in different parts of the city from the Lower East Side to Harlem. And when I have to get to New Jersey, I travel through Midtown.

When did you start putting up these MTA service announcement sketches? And why?

About a year and a half ago, I put up 113 of them. Sometimes they’re up for a few days, and other times they stay up for as long as a month. After 10 years of doing street art, I felt like I was making work for the same audience. On the subways I can reach a different audience and, perhaps, make some people smile. And I don’t sign my subway sketches. I like that feeling. And since I’ve begun doing this, I’ve only been yelled at by a couple of transit workers.

Have you ever done a wall?

Yes, I have done several. My first wall was in Ithaca at a bar where I used to play with my old band.

What about collaborations? I’ve seen your collaboration with Turtle Caps. Do any others stand out?

I‘ve collaborated with a lot of people. For years, I did a lot of work together with my street art friend Bludog. I also collaborated with Grey Egg from New Jersey, and I worked with some people from Europe.

What gives you the biggest thrill in this street art scene?

Traveling to new cities and putting my work up in them — especially since it’s such a worldwide thing. It’s a global community. I love seeing what other people are doing and I love contributing to it.

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

I’m satisfied when I finish, and then a few days later, I hate it!

How has it evolved over the years?

I use more colors and my characters have evolved over time.

Running into your pieces always makes me feel happy! And I’m looking forward to seeing more of them…especially on my way to work! What’s ahead?

I’m now working on the wall at Second Avenue and Houston. A solo exhibition of my hand-embellished MTA posters will open this Friday evening from 6-10 pm and continue through Saturday, 12-8 PM, at the Living Gallery Outpost, 246 East 4th Street.

Collaborations:

3. City Kitty with London-based  Neon Savage

5. City Kitty with Queens-based Turtle Caps

6. City Kitty with Toronto-based Urban Ninja

Interview conducted by Ana Candelaria and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1 Lois Stavsky 2-7 Ana Candelaria

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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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Some of the most intriiguing walls in town can be found on Atlantic Avenue and Hinsdate Street — directly off the L train’s Atlntic Avenue stop — in East New York.  It is where graffiti writers and street artists convened this past weekend in the spirit of unity. Featured above is old school Uptown/Bronx writer Clyde adjacent to fellow Ex Vandals’ member Will Power. What follows are several images I captured earlier this week:

Will Power posing in front of his rendition of Biggie

Albertus Joseph checking out his work before adding final touches

Graffiti meets fine art in Col Wallnuts’ abstraction

Long Island-based Phetus 88

Ex Vandals Ree and Kool Kito

Staten Island-based La Femme Cheri

The legendary Part One

OG Millie does Muhammed Ali

Keep posted to our Instagram for more images of graffiti and street art that surfaced last weekend in East New York. And, reports Will Power, we can look forward to a new set of walls — of both graffiti and street art — next month in the same location.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Curated by Nic 707, the ingenious InstaFame Phantom Art continues to bring old school writers, along with a diverse range of younger artists, onto New York City subway trains. Pictured above is photographer/arts educator Rachel Fawn Alban snapping graff pioneer Dr Revolt, an original member of the historic NYC subway graffiti crew the Rolling Thunder. Several more images captured while riding the 1 train last week follow:

Al Diaz aka SAMO©

NYC-based multi-disciplinary artist Paulie Nassar

Bronx-based InstaFame Phantom Art founder and curator, Nic 707

Sweden-born, East Harlem-based Scratch

       Japanese painter and performance artist Pinokio

Social worker Luca Sanremo checking out the legendary Taki 183 with background by Nic 707,

Photo credits: 1, 3, 5-8 Lois Stavsky; 2 & 4 Rachel Fawn Alban

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Continuing through April 28th at Hashimoto Contemporary on Manhattan’s Lower East Side is “Spotlight: Stencil,” a thoroughly delightful exhibition featuring a range of works by several outstanding artists celebrated for their stylish stencil art. Pictured above is the work of multidisciplinary artist Joe Iurato, whose infectious aesthetic has graced many public spaces here in NYC and beyond. Several more images from “Spotlight: Stencil,” follow:

UK-based muralist and  screenprinter Eelus, The Great Unknown, Aerosol  and silver leaf on panel

UK-based PennyIllusions of Grandeur, 2 layer hand-cut stencil, spray painted onto a 10 Pound note

Colorado-born Mando Marie, Been Both Ways, Acrylic and aerosol on paper

Austro-French duo Jana & JS, La Femme Aux Fleurs, Acrylic, spray paint and stencil on wood assemblage

Anonymous French artist OakOak, Orange’s RevancheSpray paint and acrylic on palette

Located at 210 Rivington Street on the LES, Hashimoto Contemporary is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10AM to 6PM.

Photos of artworks: 1-3 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 4 & 6 Courtesy the gallery

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Curated by Laura James and Eileen Walsh, who work under the name BXNYCreativeLook Closer features deliciously diverse surrealist artworks fashioned by three NYC-based artists: Alexis Duque, Rafael Melendez and Juanita Lanzó. Reflecting such themes as connectedness, kinship, colonial influence, environmental decay and sensuality, the works on exhibit invite us into the subconscious minds of the artists. The image featured above, Dwelling, was fashioned by the Colombian artist, Alexis Duque, whose work I first encountered on the streets of the Lower East Side awhile back. Several more images of artworks on view in Look Closer follow:

Also by Colombian artist Alexis Duque

Puerto Rican native Juanita LanzóUntitled

Chicano artist Rafael Melandez, Order of the New Star, detail

Look Closer

Located at 755 East 133rd Street in the Mott Haven/Port Morris section of the Bronx, Hell Gate Arts , a handsome, welcoming space, is open Fridays and Saturdays, 12PM-5PM or by appointment, For further information, contact Bxnycreative@gmail.com.

Photos of images by Lois Stavsky

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Emerging in the mid-80’s as one of the most prolific writers in his native Copenhagen, Bates has since made his mark across the world. With his swooping patterns, vibrant abstract shapes and masterful manipulation of letters, he has attained legendary status. Here in NYC to celebrate his birthday, he has graced the Lazy Susan Gallery with a selection of works fashioned largely with spray paint, acrylic and roller paint. Several more images from his solo exhibition Bates New York Bash— that opens tonight and will remain on view through Thursday — follow:

Bates on Blue with Yellow

Bates with Gold Outline

Camoflauge

You can meet the Great Bates and celebrate his birthday with him tonight — starting at 6pm — at Lazy Susan Gallery, 191 Henry Street, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

All images courtesy Lazy Susan Gallery

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A visual ode to the early days of hip-hop and the city that birthed it, Will Power‘s first solo exhibition, wRAPped N BLACK, features 10 large-scale, hugely impressive artworks — each fashioned with white charcoal on black wood panel. Curated by Anthony Bowman, the exhibit continues through Sunday, April 7, at Lichtundfire, 175 Rivington Street on the Lower East Side. Featured above is King of Funk, a  beautifully executed portrait of Parliament-Funkadelic leader George Clinton.  Several more images from wRAPped N BLACK follow:

Hoop Dreams, White charcoal on black wood panel, 60″ x 48″

Da Original BBoy, White charcoal on black wood panel, 60″ x 48″

Child at Play, White charcoal on black wood panel, 60″ x 48″

On Da 1&2, White charcoal on black wood panel, 60″ x 48″

Concrete Summer, White charcoal on black wood panel, 60″ x 48″

The gallery will be open today and tomorrow, Saturday, from 12-6pm and on Sunday, from 1-6pm. For further information, contact gallery director Priska Juschka at info@lichtundfire.com.

Photos of images by Lois Stavsky

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This is the 14th in a series of occasional posts featuring the range of faces that have surfaced in NYC open spaces:

New Zealand-based Owen Dippie in collaboration with Al Diaz aka SAMO in Bushwick

Tel Aviv-based Solomon Souza

Huge segment of complete mural on the facade of the Brooklyn Commons on Marcus Garvey Boulevard

Brooklyn-based Ben Angotti in First Street Green Park for the Inspire Change Festival

Brooklyn-based Danielle Mastrion with Dorothy Gale, close-up from huge mural in First Street Green Park for the Inspire Change Festival

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Teeming with color and charm, the huge wall at City-As-School on Hudson Street between Clarkson and West Houston in the West Village has been the talk of the town. I had the opportunity to visit it while it was still in progress and speak to CAS educator Maria Krajewski, who’s been devotedly involved with this project since it first began.

When did this impressive project begin?

Magda Love actually started her mural in May, 2016. But due to permitting issues, the painting had to be stopped four days after it had begun. We were told that we needed formal approval not only from the Department of Education, but, also, from the Department of Environmental Protection.  About 25 people in the DOE and DEP had to approve the process. We had to work out insurance, liability, releases… That took about a year. We were so grateful to get the permit!

What is happening here is described as a project of the Mad Academy that you had co-founded. Just what is the Mad Academy?

It is a pre-professional training initiative that was developed as a collaboration among students, teachers and mentors. Its goal is to provide CAS students direct training in design, arts and music under the guidance of NYC’s top creative industry professionals.

I know that Magda Love has been involved with City-as-School now for several years. I remember the first mural that she had painted here. But how did you engage the Brazilian muralist Eduardo Kobra? His popular appeal is enormous!

Eduardo Kobra’s team actually approached us, as it was a great opportunity for him to paint on such a huge wall adjacent to a school building and to engage with students.

Working on a project this enormous must have posed many challenges. What were some of the main ones?

The enormous bureaucracy that confronted us in obtaining the necessary permissions to seeing it through was our greatest challenge. And funding, of course was another huge challenge. Once we got the permit, we didn’t have any money! When Lisi Gehrend joined the team to fundraise as part of her Master’s Degree in Art, Law and Business at Christie’s Education, the largest mural in NYC was finally underway

You’ve had quite a team. And how has the response been — from students and the community?

It’s been amazing. The community loves it, as do the students. They are, in fact, painting their own murals now on our building.

Congratulations! It is amazing! And it’s so wonderful how it all came together.

Images:

1 & 2 Magda Love

3 Al Diaz

4 Eduardo Kobra & team

5 City-As-School  students Charlie Federico & Kaira Wong

Photos by Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from WideWalls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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