photography

Curious about the face behind the poetic, bright yellow stickers that have increasingly become part of NYC’s visual landscape, I was delighted to meet and speak to the beguiling My Life in Yellow.

We street art aficionados know you as My Life In Yellow. When was My Life in Yellow  born?

It was born ten years ago as the name of my blog when I first moved to New York.

Why Yellow?

I was always drawn to the color yellow. It was my grandmother’s favorite color. And when I was in college, my room was blue, while the room next to mine was yellow. The girl who dormed there was always happy, had yellow accessories and always wore the color yellow. The yellow room was so much more inviting and cheerful than mine that I soon began to surround myself with the color yellow.

When did you start slapping your stickers up on the street and why?

Several years ago, I met Thomas OKOK Gunnarsson aka TagsAndThrows. He introduced me to the street art/graffiti world. We walked around the city together as he photographed graffiti. One year later his friend, AllYouSeeIsCrimeInTheCity, a street art photographer based in Sweden, came on a visit to New York City. She gave me my first sticker and encouraged me to write on it. I was going through a difficult break-up at the time, so I wrote “Tell Him How You Feel” on a postal sticker. She slapped it for me in Soho.

What inspired you to keep making stickers and getting them up?

I started getting really positive feedback. And it was a kind of therapy for me as I was going through difficult times.  People started to reach out and say things like, “Now I know I’m not alone” and “Me too, omg — I feel this way.” I started to realize how similar we all are in our dark thoughts, what we don’t say out loud. That was the moment I felt, “This is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Have you any particularly memorable street art experiences?

I spontaneously slapped a sticker on a bridge in Berlin. The sticker read. “Tell Him How You Feel.” A girl nearby noticed it and commented, “A lot of people jump off that bridge.” I hadn’t thought of that! Another time I slapped a sticker on the Manhattan Bridge that said, “It’ll Be Ok.”  I did not realize until afterwards that I had slapped it on a suicide/help call box!

Who are some of your favorite sticker artists?

MQ and Token. I appreciate how consistent they are. I see their stickers everywhere!

 

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

Yes, I slap and I walk. And then when I revisit it, I feel like I’m visiting my child.

How has your street art evolved in the course of these these past five years?

Its intent and tone have stayed the same, but I also wheatpaste now. And I’ve painted directly onto walls–by myself and in collaboration with other artists.

What is your favorite piece that you’ve created?

That’s a tough one! “Once my lover, now my poem.” I find myself writing it a lot.

How long do you usually spend on each sticker?

It comes in spurts. I often write a whole bunch at one time. Sometimes it’s just spontaneous.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

Don’t tell my boss, but I think about it all the time.

Have you exhibited your work?

Yes! I’ve exhibited in several local spaces. When I first met Sac Six a few years back. he encouraged me get up on canvas.  I still make little canvases — that look like my stickers — that I show and sell in exhibitions. I’ve also created works that don’t resemble my stickers at all. I was recently featured in the Phoenix Rising exhibit at the Gala on 129 Allen Street, where one of my pieces sold.

Where else have your stickers traveled, besides the streets here in NYC?

London, Paris, Trinidad, Sweden, Berlin, LA, Miami. All placers I’ve been to. I prefer to slap stickers myself. There’s something special about it. It’s nice when people offer to slap my stickers up in other places, but I don’t give them out.

You’ve also painted in sanctioned public projects. Do you prefer working legally or illegally?

There’s something magical about pasting stickers up. I like its randomness, but I also enjoy working legally.

How has your family responded to your work on the streets?

They’re entertained by it. My father exhibits his photography. My grandfather was an artist.

Did you ever study art in a formal setting?

No, I’m self taught. I have a BA in business and a degree in Fashion Design from Parsons.

What are some of your other interests?

Spoken word poetry. I’ve performed in various venues. And I recently curated an event to help raise money for the JED Foundation.

Where are you headed? Any recent projects?

I recently collaborated with street art photographer Ana Candelaria. Ana’s photos always make me so happy. I love how she captures my stickers out in the wild: weather-faded, slapped-over and scratched-off. I love her documentation of their deterioration. Her photos really speak to me and I’m looking forward to many more collaborations with Ana. I‘ve also just released a chapbook of my poetry, Despite it all.  Where am I headed? I’d like to travel the world, get on stages with my poetry, paint more murals and conduct workshops on the power of words.

That all sounds great! What do you see as the artist’s role in society?

To help people feel something.

Note: You can purchase My Life In Yellow‘s recently-released poetry book together with Ana Candelaria‘s photograph of her iconic sticker as a PHOTO PRINT & CHAPBOOK BUNDLE PRE-SALE here.

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

Photo credits: 1 (featuring Ana’s photograph) – 3, 6, (featuring My Life In Yellow‘ s collaboration with Androi 0i for Underhill Walls 7 & 9 Lois Stavsky; 4, 5, 8, 10 & 11 Ana Candelaria 

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The following post is by Street Art NYC contributor Ana Candelaria

Omar Victorious and I grew up together on the Lower East Side, but 20 years had passed since we’d been in touch. And then street art reunited us – first with the Street Art  Photography Show that Omar had curated back in August at Mikey Likes It Ice Cream in the East Village and then with his hugely successful roving Shooters Street Art Scavenger Hunt. Curious about the direction his life had taken, I asked him several questions:

Before launching Shooters Street Art, what had you been up to? 

I’d started a brand called End of The Weak, which has become the longest running open mic in New York City and has had huge global impact with chapters in Belgium, Africa, China, London and Paris. We just celebrated our 19th anniversary! Eventually, though, I had to shift my focus to my education, so that I could do more for my family. I attended  a vocational technical school and obtained my certification in Network Engineering, Administration and Hardware Support. I’m also a certified Project Manager Professional.

How has your Project Manager skill set impacted your current work related to street art? 

It carries over in terms of organizational skills. I have a goal. What must I do to execute that goal? A lot of people have ideas but don’t know how to go about executing them. I’ve gained many skills — including website design, photography and video production — that enable me to accomplish my goals. I can negotiate contracts, and I understand the role finance plays in business.

How did street art come to play such a huge role in your life?

I’m from the Lower East Side, East Village, Alphabet City. I’m downtown. I woke up to tags, graffiti, murals and spots that are bombed to shit. It was the landscape of my childhood. Around ten years ago, I started taking pictures with my Blackberry, and I started a blog. I, also, came up with two hashtags: #crackimagecrew and  #cracknificent. Over a four-year period, those hashtags have gained 1400 posts on Instagram from 10-12 photographers from all around the world. That’s how I came up with the idea for the Shooters Street Art Photography Show. I reached out to everyone who was using those hashtags and asked them if they’d be interested in participating in a street art photography show. I really wanted to meet them in person and expose their talents. I wanted to recreate the vibe of my childhood. We weren’t on the Internet back in the day. We were connecting with humans. These days I’m trying to build community —  an ecosystem of people who support one another and value creativity My good friend, Mikey, has a venue downtown called Mikey Likes It, and it all fell into place.

And how did the idea of the Shooter’s Scavenger Hunt come about?

I was talking to a few artists — including SacSix and Sara Lynne Leo — at the Shooters Photography Show. I was thinking, “How can we take this further?  Let’s get out on the street and do a scavenger hunt.” And everybody was like YES!  From there everything just started clicking. And, all of a sudden, we go from 10 to 30 people. Here we are seven hunts later: SacSix, Sara Lynne Leo, Dee Dee, Raddington Falls, Praxis and Jilly Ballistic. The response has been overwhelming. People are out there having a great time — street art hunting and winning original artwork. And all they have to do is pay $5.00 and put in some hard laps on the streets. The artists are creating original one-of-a-kind pieces as prizes. That’s exciting! The kids come out; the dogs come out and everyone has fun.

What’s ahead?

The road map is already written. The idea behind Shooters is to showcase the eye behind the lens. It’s about the photographer who is capturing and delivering the content. There are so many different avenues to take and so many different genres to explore. You have photographers who shoot everything from nature to extreme sports. Just think about the potential of showcasing all of those shooters and giving them a platform? You have to respect the Shooter! Respect the Shooter! It’s not just limited to street art; it’s about photography; it’s about the eye.

Anything specifically related to street art that we can look forward to?

We are planning a Shooters app. We also plan to digitize the hunt and take it to another level. We’d like to take the hunt to new cities and get more artists involved. We’re just getting started, so if you’re a street art enthusiast who’s hungry and ready to shoot, Holla!

Interview conducted by Ana Candelaria and edited for brevity and clarity by Ana and Lois Stavsky

Photo 1 courtesy of Ana; 2 photo of Omar Victorious by Katie Godowski; photos 3-5 by Ana Candelariathe final photo features Hady Mendezwinner of artwork by SacSix and Shooters Street Art  founder Omar Victorious

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Located on 120th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem, Eugene McCabe Field is now home to two tantalizing public art installations.  Featured above is a close-up from local fiber artist Naomi RAG‘s 12 x 24 foot mural fashioned from yarn.

A larger segment of the mural

The mural, La Flor De Mi Madre, in its entirety

Harlem-based Capucine Bourcart, Eat Me!, a photographic mosaic of approximately 1,500 printed metal square pictures of local healthy food — asking to be eaten!

Photos captured at dusk in the heat 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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On view through July 12 at South Bronx gallery WALLWORKS NEW YORK is Memorias en Arte. Curated by South Bronx photographer Gloria Zapata, it features photos captured by Gloria while visiting her homeland, Honduras, along with renderings of them by a range of NYC artists.

Images of memories  from her childhood capture the essence of her native country, while the accompanying artworks further explore the notion of “home.” After visiting the brilliantly conceived and handsomely curated exhibition yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak to Gloria.

I love your passion for photography, along with your devotion to documentation. Can you tell us something about its beginnings?

I first studied photography while I was a student at Washington Irving High School. That was back in the nineties. While studying Multimedia Video Arts at the Borough of Manhattan Community College a bit later, I started writing scripts and producing films. I  wanted to be next Stephen Speilberg! After graduating from BMCC, I wrote and directed an award-winning short film “A Mirror of Me,” but I soon discovered that pursuing that passion would require funds and an investment of time that I didn’t have. Then for my 27th birthday, my mother bought me a professional camera. That was a turning point! Currently, while pursuing my passion, I am studying Art and Photography at Lehman College.

Do you remember what you first documented once you had that camera that your mother had bought you?

Early on it was nature and architecture. I especially liked photographing landscapes.

And what about street art and graffiti? When did you first start photographing the walls in your neighborhood?

I’d always loved murals. For years I’d seen works on the street by Tats Cru and Crash, but I had no idea who these artists were. Then one day — about five years ago — I met Crash when he was painting on the streets, and he invited me to WALLWORKS NEW YORK. Nothing’s been quite the same since!

And how did you meet all the street artists and graffiti writers — among the other artists —  whom you included in your show? I assume you met many here at WALLWORKS NEW YORK?

Yes! And I met several while I was volunteering as a teaching assistant with ICP (The International Center of Photography) at the Point.

I love the conversation between your photos and the artists’ interpretations of them. How did you decide which artists to include in Memorias en Arte? Its concept is brilliant.

I included artists whose works speak to me and who responded enthusiastically to my concepts of “home” and “memories.” A few of the artists I approached had too many other commitments at the time to participate in Memorias en Arte, but I hope to collaborate with them in the future — perhaps in an expanded version of the project.

What were some of the challenges you faced in seeing such an ambitious project through?

Following through with the artists to make sure that their pieces would be completed in time and sufficiently believing in my vision to see it though. But working with WALLWORKS NEW YORK has made any challenges so much easier to overcome.

How have folks reacted to this show?

The response has been great. And people tell me all the time how much they love the exhibition’s concept.

I first saw your work several months ago on exhibit at the Point’s Riverside Campus for Arts and the Environment. Where else have you exhibited? What were some some of the key shows?

I participated last summer in Through A Feminine Lens, a group show — curated by Juanita Lanzo and Kimberly Vaquedano-Rose — that featured photography and mixed media works exploring motherhood, immigrant perspectives, equity and race at the Longwood Art Gallery at Hostos Community College. Earlier, I showed in a group exposition, Exposure, here at WALLWORKS NEW YORK.  And in 2017, I participated in The Next Generation of Bronx Photographers at the Andrew Freedman Home.

Have you any particular favorite subjects as of late?

Yes, I’ve been focusing on portraits – especially of dancers — and sunsets.

Wow! You certainly have a wide range of interests! Have you any favorite photographers? Photographers who have inspired you?

Yes! Among them are: Martha Cooper, Joe Conzo and Ricky Flores. I love their commitment to community. I love Martha’s photography —  from the images she started shooting in the 80’s through those she currently captures  — and I love her story, along with the stories her photos tell. I was so happy to have an opportunity to work with her. In terms of photographers who capture dancers, my favorite is Andrea Mohin, a staff photographer for the New York Times, whom I’ve also had the chance to meet and work with.

How can folks see your current exhibit, Memorias en Arte?

It will be on view through next Friday, July 12, at WALLWORKS NEW YORK, 39 Bruckner Blvd. in the South Bronx. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 11am – 5pm and weekends by appointment.

Featured images:

1 Zimad and Gloria Zapata

2 Photo of Gloria Zapata

3  Gloria Zapata and Lady jDay

4 NicerGloria Zapata and BG183

5 YesOne and Gloria Zapata

Eric Orr and Gloria Zapata

7 Installation close-up, Gloria Zapata

Photos by Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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A huge sticker fan, I first discovered iwillnot‘s stickers almost a decade ago while combing the streets of DC in search of striking street art. Soon afterwards, I met him and was struck by not only his outstanding aesthetic sensibility, but his huge passion for stickers and its wonderfully democratic collective culture.

In his recently released and hugely popular book, Smashed: The Art of the Sticker Combo, iwillnot shares not only his story, but provides us with tremendous insights into the entire sticker culture.

Intent on trading his stickers with other sticker artists, iwillnot had early on established a network of artists to exchange sticker packs. He was soon installing sticker combos in cities throughout the East Coast. And in 2011, he began to envision “smashing an art gallery in a major city with thousands and thousands of stickers.” Smashed: The Art of the Sticker Combo documents the realization of this dream.

With the support of street art enthusiast and Fridge Gallery founder and curator Alex Goldstein, iwillnot curated a 12.5 feet tall by 20 feet wide 10,000 sticker installation in 2013. By 2016, the entire gallery was smashed with hundreds of thousands of stickers, representing over 500 artists from 15 countries. The 2016 DC Street Sticker Expo reached over three million people.

With dozens of photographs documenting it all, Smashed: The Art of the Sticker Combo is certain to appeal to all of us sticker art fans and street art aficionados. The book can be purchased through Amazon or directly from the author here. And if you would like to participate in this year’s DC Street Sticker Expo, you still can!

All images courtesy iwillnotthe third image features — Foes, Mr Say, Skam, Sore Infest (top) RX Skulls, Obit, Who, and Ride (bottom); book reviewed by Lois Stavsky

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I first came upon JR‘s ingenious aesthetic ten years ago when I discovered a series of his portraits of Israelis and Palestinians pasted face to face along the Separation Wall in Abu Dis, Jerusalem. Celebrating the similarities between Israelis and Palestinians, the Face 2 Face Project heightened the absurdity of this seemingly endless conflict among cousins — and has stayed with me since. Within this past decade, JR has continued to bring his wondrous talents and socially-conscious vision to dozens of sites across the globe, often giving a voice to those whose voices are silenced.

This past week, Galerie Perrotin NYC  launched Horizontal featuring an eclectic selection of JR‘s works. His first NYC solo show, Horizontal presents — in addition to the artist’s archival prints — a range of mixed-media installations.

Featured above is Migrants, Mayra, Picnic Across the Border, Quadrichromie, Tecate, Mexico – U.S.A. 2018. What follows are several more images from Horizontal captured by street and travel photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad.

Mixed media installation featuring JR‘s signature eye

Women Are Heroes, Le Havre, France, 2014

Giants, Kikito, Front View, Work in Progress, Tecate, Mexico – U.S.A2018

On Galerie Perrotin NYC exterior

And outside the gallery with street artist TomBob

The exhibit continues through August 17 at Perrotin New York, 130 Orchard Street.  Running concurrently at Perrotin is ALOALO, Mahafaly Sculptures of the Efiaimbelos.

Note: In observance of Independence Day, the gallery will be closed through July 4th. It will open at 10am on Thursday.

Photos by  Karin du Maire

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In his wonderfully handsome and poignant exhibit, Too Young for Type One, Appleton has created an alternative universe in a range of media that not only delights us aesthetically, but provides us with an entry into the world of a diabetic.  Currently on view from 1-9pm at the Tenth Avenue Gallery, 287 Tenth Avenue at 26th Street, Too Young for Type One ends with a closing reception this Wednesday, November 15th from 6-10pm. What follows are several images I captured on my recent visit:

Appleton with one of his many perturbingly powerful installations

The End, Part One, Photographic transfer / Archival 27″ x 27″

A New Hero Emerges (the Tin Man as Diabetic), Mixed media / Found work 40″ x 28″

Appleton with his Insulin Tree

A small segment of “Too Young for Type One”

Photo credits: First image courtesy Appleton; 2-6 Lois Stavsky

Note: The exhibit is open today, Sunday, until 9pm.

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Curated by Alice Mizrachi, Fem-is-in is an homage to the female spirit in this time of female-led activism.  Featuring a diverse range of work by female artists who have forged their distinct paths, Fem-is-in engages and entices.  The artwork pictured above is by the legendary Lady Pink. What follows is a small sampling of works that can be seen at Fat Free Art through next Saturday.

Alice Mizrachi

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Queen Andrea

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Jane Dickson

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Swoon, close-up

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Also featured in Fem-is-in are works by: Lady Aiko, Diane McClure, Ann Lewis aka Gilf!, Janette Beckman and Martha Cooper.

Located at 102 Allen Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side,  Fat Free Art is open Tuesday-Saturday 11AM-7PM and Sunday 12PM-5PM.

Photos of images: 1, 4 & 5 Lois Stavsky; 2 & 3 Tara Murray

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For the past several years, Queens-based photographer Raphael Gonzalez aka Zurbaran1 has been creating intriguing, visually dynamic images of street art, often focusing on the artists at work.  Within the past year, his photos have made their way into several shows including his first solo exhibit, The Hand of An Artist. He has also been featured in Yoav Litvin‘s blog, 2createart. I recently had the opportunity to meet up with him.

I love what you are doing! When did you first begin to photograph NYC’s street art and graffiti?

About four years ago.

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What inspired you to do so? 

Several years ago, my daughter visited Berlin and returned home incredibly excited about the street art she had seen there. Her enthusiasm, along with the photos that she showed me, inspired me to check out what was happening on the streets of NYC. And I first became serious about it all in October, 2013 when Banksy hit NYC with his month-long day residency Better Out Than In.

Within the few years that you’ve been shooting street art, you seem to have established friendships with many of the street artists you photograph.  Can you tell us something about that?

The very first street artist I met was Alice Mizrachi. I was standing in front of her mural at Welling Court when she noticed me. She was living right there at the time, and — almost at once — came out in her pajamas to speak to me! I was so impressed by her intelligence and craft. I photographed her in front of her mural, and we struck up a friendship right then.  She was the first street artist I photographed and spoke to. Since that day, I’ve become friends with many more.

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You’ve been photographing many artists as they work. How have they responded to this? Are they open to it?

The response has been great! And when I share the photos I’ve taken with them, they are so appreciative.

That’s great! As street art is so ephemeral by nature, it’s so important to document it. And I’m a huge fan of artful photographers who document the process. I notice that you’ve focused quite a bit on the artists’ hands.

Yes, I like observing their hands in action. And photographing hands gives me a chance to use my long lens which I love doing!

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And you’ve also begun collaborating with some of the street artists whose works you photograph. How do you go about engaging them?

Yes! I love collaborating. The process makes me think a little differently, and the artists have been wonderful.  Among them are FumeroGizTrans1NoirCity Kitty. Some I’ve approached, and others have approached me.

What are some of the challenges that you face in seeing your projects through?

There’s never enough time. And there are so many artists! Going through all the photos that I take and then editing them is a lengthy, time-consuming process.

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How has the scene changed since you first started photographing street art?

There are fewer walls, and street art has become more commercial. And it seems that in the past few years, street artists have achieved celebrity status. It’s almost like they are the new rock stars!

What’s ahead for you?

I would like to engage in more collaborations…different in nature than the usual ones!

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I look forward to seeing them all, and I will be keeping up with you — in the meantime — via your Instagram!

All photos © Raphael Gonzalez aka Zurbaran1; interivew conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Images

1. El Niño de las Pinturas, Brooklyn Is the Future, Brownsville

2. Hendrik Beikirch aka ECB, Bushwick

3. Dasic Fernandez, Welling Court Mural Project

4. Fanakapan, Bushwick Collective

5. Noir, as featured in Raphael Gonzalez‘s solo show at Fatty’s in Astoria, Queens

6. Futura, Bushwick Collective

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DDG’s 100 Franklin Street in Tribeca is now the site of a new massive mural by JR, the internationally acclaimed Parisian artist. The image is an enlargement of a photo that was originally taken in Ellis Island in 1908 and was featured in JR,’s Unframed — Ellis Island exhibit.

Installation in progress

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With assistant Joshua B. Geyer taking command

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The completed installation, as seen this past weekend

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This same wall was the site of JR’s 100-foot ballerina, one of our favorite street art pieces of 2015. The following video by Jesse Whiles documents its transition:

We especially appreciate the new mural  — and its reminder that we are a nation of immigrants — at a time when so many are seeking refuge from catastrophic events throughout the globe.

Photo credits: 1 Courtesy DDG; 2-4 Tara Murray

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

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