political art

When I visited Soho last Monday, it was hardly the rich wonderland it was several weeks ago. Yet, several new pieces greeted me, and I enjoyed revisiting some of my favorite murals that have, somehow, survived. The image featured above is the work of the delightfully talented artists Adam Fu and Duel RIS. Several more images — a few captured earlier —  follow:

The legendary Duel RIS

NYC-based multimedia artist Nick C. Kirk

The prolific NYC graffiti pioneer Hektad — captured 6.29

NYC-based multimedia artist Fabio Esteban 

NYC-based multidisciplinary artist Ilina Mustafina 

Photos by Lois Stavsky

{ 0 comments }

While many of the original artworks that had surfaced on the boarded-up stores in Soho are no longer on view, others continue to emerge. Featured above are works by NYC-based politically-conscious artist Sule and Brooklyn-based artist Manuel Alejandro Pulla. What follows are several more artworks I came upon earlier this week, along with a few captured within the past month.

Also by Sule, “My Color Is Not a Crime”

Artist/activist Amir Diop in collaboration with Eyes That Love Art, “Take Me to a Place Where I Won’t Be Judged by My Weight, I Won’t Be Labeled as a Nerd– Where Black Lives Matter”

NYC-based multidisciplinary artist DVNNY,  “Let Us Live,” — a plea from the transgender community

Jordanian-American multidisciplinary artist Ridikkuluz pays homage to the 30–year-old Egyptian LGBTQ activist Sarah Hegazi — arrested and tortured in Cairo for raising the LGBT flag at a concert — who died last month by suicide while living in exile in Canada — to the left of LEXXX‘s plea to “Free the Ninos”

Isabelle with Vincent Van Gogh quote: “Art is to Console Those Who Are Broken by Life”

Brooklyn-based Czech artist Irena Kenny, “We are the change that we seek.”

To be continued next week!

Photo credits: 1, 3 – 7 Lois Stavsky; 2 Sara Ching Mozeson

{ 1 comment }

When I returned to Soho earlier this week, I was thrilled to discover several pieces — including a few collaborations — new to me. The image featured above, “Our Nation’s Claim to Justice,” was fashioned by Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo and Queens-native Jeff Rose. Several more artworks that have recently surfaced on Soho’s boarded-up stores follow:

Multidisciplinary artists Alice Mackay (center) and Marco Villard 

The legendary NYC writer/artist Duel RIS 

Venezuelan artist Alberto Barreto and multimedia artist AV

Ukrainian-born, NYC-based multidisciplinary artist Si Golraine at work

Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist Konstance Patton

Amir Diop, Brendan T Mcnally and Light Noise collaborate on mural in memory of graffiti writer Michael Stewart who died at the hands of the NYPD in  1983

To be continued next week!

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4 – 7 Lois Stavsky; 3 Sara Ching Mozeson

{ 0 comments }

While many of the boards in Soho continue to be dismantled, the ones that remain continue to intrigue. And, happily, new ones surface — largely by artists who generally work in their studios — addressing a range of issues from systemic racism to transphobia. The socially-driven artworks featured above were fashioned  a few weeks back by Brooklyn-based artist Jerardo Calixto in collaboration with Sofi ✍ Signs. Several more images captured earlier this week — several in progress — follow:

NYC-based Fabio Esteban with a message

NYC-based Brendan T Mcnally takes a brief break from “Break Free” in progress (check out Brendan’s Instagram to view the now completed mural and its moving backstory)

NYC-based, Moscow native Sofia Granovskaia aka Dr Antic to the right of artist/activist Amir Diop — with an important request and reproach re: his missing artwork

Multidisciplinary artist Matthew Mazur — dedicated to “our Black Trans Brothers and Sisters who were taken from us too soon.”

Native Belarus artist Mitya Pisliak at work

Brooklyn-based, Czechoslovak-born Kamila Zmrzla Otcasek

On racism — signed Scott Woods 

To be continued next week!

Photo credits: 1, 3, 4, 6-8 Lois Stavsky; 2 & 5 Sara Ching Mozeson

{ 3 comments }

Although dozens of boards that have served as canvases for a diverse range of artworks are no longer part of Soho’s visual landscape, the neighborhood remains my current favorite destination for street art. The image featured above was created by the talented, NYC-based writer and painter Gerry Vewer. Several more images — some discovered earlier this week and others captured within the last month — follow:

West Chester, PA-born, NYC-based Maeve Cahill’s homage to Black inventors, who’ve been largely “written out of history”

Documentarian Middlemen Doc and NY-based filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist Rochelle Leanne to the left of the widely-posted “Black Lives Matter” image

Artist and self-described cosmic anthropologist Loren Crea Abbate to the left of multidisciplinary artist Beatriz Ramos

Multidisciplinary artist and designer K O FF EE

Visual artist and poet Android Oi in collaboration with Brooklyn-based MaryKathryn Medlock — to the right of  NYC-based UNLOK

To be continued next week!

Photos by Lois Stavsky

{ 0 comments }

A diverse range of artists — from self-taught to those with advanced degrees in Fine Art — have been busy these past few weeks in Soho, transforming the Lower Manhattan neighborhood into an open-air museum.  Although dozens of artworks on boards have already vanished as stores begin to open, others continue to surface. The works above were fashioned by — from left to right — Tyler Ives, Calicho Arevalo, and Loren Crea Abbate. Several more images in this ongoing series follow:

Multimedia artist and environmentalist Luca Babini aka Acool55 to the left of Erin Ko‘s portrait of  the late noted African-American writer James Baldwin

Savior Elmundo, “Enough Is Enough,” to the left of Lady JDay’s portrait of Breonna Taylor

Lower East Side-based multidisciplinary artist Michael Rimbaud does the late noted poet Gil Scott-Heron with a play on his famed poem “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

Queens-native Jeff Rose King in collaboration with Colombian artist Calicho Arevalo

Lower Manhattan-based creative agency Vault49

Brooklyn-based artist/calligrapher Max Gibbons

To be continued next week!

Photos: Lois Stavsky

{ 0 comments }

From the playful to the political, the artworks surfacing daily on Soho’s boarded-up doors and windows delight and provoke. Featured above — in the second of our series documenting Soho’s open-air museum — is Maeve Cahill‘s tribute to the late African-American journalist Ida B. Wells, alongside alluring images by an artist identified as A V.  Several more artworks captured earlier this week follow:

NYC-based Nick C. Kirk, stencil of civil rights activist and football quarterback, Colin Kaepernick 

NYC-based Urban Russian Doll, Portrait of Breonna Taylor, the black emergency medical technician who had been shot to death in her Louisville, Kentucky home

 NYC-based Hektad

 Athens, Greece-born, NYC-based Lydia Venieri, “Say Their Names,” Portraits of African-Americans murdered by the police

NYC-based artists Tiger Mackie (L.) and Beelzebaby (R.)

Newark, NJ-based Goomba at work

Photo credits: 1-6 Lois Stavsky and 7 Ana Candelaria 

{ 0 comments }

Since George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old black man, was murdered in broad daylight on May 26 by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, protests have risen up throughout the world. Here in NYC, our streets have teemed with images and signs, along with daily peaceful and powerful protests in all five boroughs. The image featured above in memory of George Floyd was fashioned by Sara Erenthal in her Prospect Lefferts Garden neighborhood. Several more images recently seen on NYC streets follow:

 Lmnopi, Black Lives Matter, on the Lower East Side

An unidentified school-age child getting the message out with chalk at Riverside Park on the Upper West Side

LinkNYC for #BlackOutTuesday on the Upper West Side

Stickers posted near Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side

Sign fashioned by West Coast — based Kate DeCiccio, seen on First Avenue in the East Village 

Protestors in Union Square Park demand that “our lives be free of police violence”

And “Justice for Floyd” — in procession walking north from Washington Square Park

Photo credits: 1 Sara Erenthal; 2, 6-9 Ana Candelaria and 3-5 Lois Stavsky

{ 0 comments }

The following post is by Houda Lazrak:

While visiting Santiago, Chile in late December, I sat down with Santiago-based architect and street art/graffiti expert Sebastián Cuevas Vergara. We met a few blocks from one of Santiago’s main urban landmarks, Plaza Baquedano, now known as Plaza de la Dignidad or Dignity Square — the main site of Chile’s protests against social inequality that erupted last October following a hike in subway fares. 

Every Friday afternoon, thousands gather in Plaza de la Dignidad to express their frustration with the high cost of living, rising rents, government corruption and an unsustainable social welfare system. The walls in the vicinity are plastered with protest posters, tags, graffiti, wheatpastes and other varied urban interventions.

Sebastián shared some of his thoughts and observations about the current state of public space in Santiago:

So much has changed here since I last visited Chile in 2013. What are you up to at the moment?

I am currently teaching a street art class at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Chile. This a particularly pertinent moment to be talking about people’s relation to public space in view of all the street art that has surfaced since the social crisis started.

Yes, it does seem extremely relevant.

I have a thesis: Santiago is the city with the most diverse graffiti in the world at the moment. There is poetic graffiti, urban graffiti, feminist graffiti, political graffiti…

And so many posters too!

The languages of the streets are changing. When the protests started, designers started making posters: a simple, straightforward, immediate response. Posters and graphics have been part of Chilean identity since the 1970s, so this was quickly picked up again.

Is this happening mainly in the city center?

It is concentrated in the center of the city. This is where it has the most significance, near ‘zona cero’ where the protests surface every Friday.

How have the graffiti and street art changed in Santiago since the social revolution erupted?

There are several changes. First, many artists are no longer signing their works. The personal nature of graffiti is not of essence now. Artists are, instead, giving their art to the movement. This is particularly interesting, because the graffiti scene in Santiago is very competitive. Second, works are much larger in scale because artists are collaborating. Third, performance art is integrated into the protests and with the graffiti and street art. Finally, feminist street art is now at the forefront. The work of groups like the Chilean feminist collective LASTESIS has gone viral.

How might what is happening now affect the future of public space in Chile?

The significance of the writing on the walls is now taken more seriously. The city is now asking,” Do we erase the graffiti or maintain it?”

People in Chile didn’t really understand that public space belongs to them — rather than to the police and to the politicians. Now it has been returned, and they are occupying it. There were more than one million people protesting. One way to occupy this space is through graffiti. On the first two days of the revolution, everyone was doing graffiti everywhere. And many building owners were saying, “We want to maintain the graffiti to show our support to this social movement.” Owners now have the choice of whether to keep the graffiti or not. In the past, the municipality would have automatically erased it. It’s a huge change. 

Since the military dictatorship that emerged in the 1970’s, public space has been restricted and surveilled. This is now changing. All these expressions are now happening in Chilean public spaces, even if the police tries to stop them.

Has what is happening here impacted the mainstream art establishment?

There is less trust in art institutions, because change is happening outdoors. The art that people want to see is now happening outside of museums.

Are there some works that have surfaced on the streets that are particularly prevalent?

Matapaco, the dog who became a symbol of Chilean revolutions. He was a stray dog that marched with protestors and defended them against police forces. Lots of images of him are appearing in the street. People in Santiago are also putting bandanas on their dogs in solidarity. There is also Museo de la Dignidad, a group that is installing golden frames around what they think are there best street art works made in direct response to the social situation.

Did you participate in the protests?

I created an intervention, LibreCircular, in Plaza Italia, where the main protests occurred. I collaborated with artists to paint a large circle on the ground that represents the right to circulate in the city.

To me, the most important value of public place is free circulation and people’s right to it. The Chilean government took this away from us when they imposed a curfew in Santiago last October. This intervention was a response to it.

How did people react to this particular intervention?

People’s interaction with the piece was super interesting. Some sat down to take photographs right in its center; cyclists held a night protest where they rode on the circumference of the circle over and over again; and protestors also started a fire in it.

What are some of your thoughts on the current state of affairs?

Well, there are a lot of social issues in Chile. There is no affordable healthcare or education, and things blew up.

This moment is political, but also cultural. People are trying to appropriate cultural powers. With new generations and new ideas, Chile has woken up. And artists are now playing a political role.

Sources like television and newspapers are no longer trusted, because they represent the state’s agenda. The agenda of the streets, the public’s agenda, is written on the city’s walls, and on Instagram. Hopefully, a new constitution will be written in the next months. I believe that the ideas that appear in the graffiti of Chile’s streets should be considered in the writing of  the constitution. Values are created in the streets, and graffiti is a participatory process that reflects these values. One of the most important values that came out of these protests is dignity.

Have you any ideas on what the impact of this social revolution may be?

It is hard to tell what the dimension will be, or if real change will happen.  But it is definitely the start of a historical process.

Thanks for speaking with us, Sebastian. We’ll be following Chilean news in the next months from New York!

Images

1 Photographer Bastián Cifuentes Araya‘s documentation of Chilean protestors’ head gear for the project: “Por qué nos encapuchamos” / “Why we get hooded.” The gear protects them from tear gas, and makes a political and artistic statement. 

2 Valparaiso-based stencil artist Mauro Goblin

3 Varied political graffiti in the historical, artsy Lastarria neighborhood in central Santiago

4 Varied political graffiti

5 Multidisciplinary artist Miguel Ángel Kastro, Chile, Octubre 2019

Varied political graffiti — featuring Matapacoa stray dog that accompanied Chilean activists during protests, and is now a symbol of the current social revolution

Serigrafía Instantáneaportrait of Camilo Catrillanca, the grandson of a Mapuche indigenous leader, shot in the back of the head by government armed forces in November 2018. Catrillanca’s image became emblematic of police brutality and crimes against Chilean civilians.

 Ricardo Pues, Homage to the ‘primera linea’ protestors featuring “Thank you” in several languages to those who have been at the front lines of protests since the 2019 manifestations started

Interview with Sebastián Cuevas Vergara and photos by Houda Lazrak

{ 0 comments }

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

{ 0 comments }