Queens

Queens is major stomping ground. It has been for generations – from the Long Island Railroad in Jamiaca. to Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights. At the turn of the century, Queen’s 7-line train, rooftops, tunnels, and streets were notorious for their graffiti. From 74th street and Roosevelt Avenue all the way up to Flushing Main Street, graffiti was rampant. But then with elected officials like Mayor Rudy Giuliani and District Attorney Peter Vallone, it became scarce. These politicians, alongside prosecutors and judges, came down heavily on graffiti writers. Years went by with very little action on the 7 line. Then came the pandemic.

While most New Yorkers secluded themselves indoors during the early months of the pandemic, an impassioned minority ventured outdoors to make their mark on the city’s newly abandoned streets, storefronts and walls.  An entire new generation of ILLicit creatives with an irrepressible urge to “get up” was born. In an ongoing new series, Street Art NYC will highlight them, while also paying homage to veteran writers who are “pushing it forward.” This first in our series — spanning all five boroughs — focuses on the markings in Queens. The image above features Real. Several more photos recently captured in Queens follow:

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Boni and Kitty

Pure

Angr and Tav

Faes and Sic

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Post and photos by the Pushing It Forward Collective

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When LISA Project NYC co-founder Reynaldo Rosa aka The Drif was 10 years old and living in the foster care system with a critical illness, he wished he could visit the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a 501 nonprofit organization that that helps fulfill the wishes of children with serious illnesses, Rey had his wish come true – an adventure that sparked his imagination, allowing him “to see color again.”

Inspired by this experience, Rey has been bringing color to our streets for over a decade, and his brain-child, the Make-A-Wish Mural Project, has launched a variety of spirited murals in a range of NYC spaces from the Brookdale Hospital in East Brooklyn to the streets of Nolita in Manhattan.

Last month, under The Drif’s curatorial direction, the exterior of the huge Macy’s Department Store, housed in Queens Center, was magically transformed as part of Macy’s annual Believe campaign. The image featured above was a collaboration among: the Drif, Zero Productivity, Chris RWK and Veng RWK. Several select close-ups from the huge mural project follow:

Zero Productivity and Chris RWK

Indie 184 and Zero Productivity

Veng RWK

Indie 184, Chris RWK & Veng RWK

And a reminder from Chris RWK to send your letter to Santa — as for every letter received, Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. You have until Friday to write your letter here or drop it off at Macy’s.

Note: Earlier this month six murals were also unveiled outside the Macy’s in downtown Brooklyn.

Photo credits: 1 Shalom Stavsky, 2-6 Lois Stavsky

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For over a decade Welling Court and its surrounding blocks in Astoria, Queens have been a mecca of street art and graffiti, engaging a widely diverse group of artists, the local community, as well as the the general public.  On our recent visit to Astoria, we were delighted to discover several new murals — curated by Alison C. Wallis —  that have surfaced in these trying times on the walls of one of our favorite street art destinations. The image featured above was fashioned by the legendary Chris “Daze” Ellis. Several more murals — painted over the past few weeks — follow:

Bronx-bred El Souls

Lady Pink‘s tribute to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many more whose lives should have never been cut short 

Greg Lamarche aka SP ONE, “Lift Every Voice”

Fumero, “The Glariator” with his name in flames

Bronx-based BG 183, Tats Cru

Queen Andrea, Love Always Wins

John “Crash” Matos and Joe Iurato with a message of LOVE

Also among the new works is a mural fashioned by the legendary John Fekner, to be captured when the sun cooperates!

Photo credits: 1, 6 & 7 Sara Ching Mozeson; 2 – 5 & 8 Lois Stavsky

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Self-described as a “NYC-based visually impaired Street-Pop artist with a vintage flair,” the lovely OG Millie primarily fashions infectious portraits of iconic international figures. Ranging from the Buddha to Biggie, they are customarily painted with brilliant hues onto vintage decorative mirrors, exuding a distinctly enchanting aura.

A wonderfully diverse sampling of the artist’s portraits were exhibited this past Wednesday at a reception held at Long Island City’s magical Paper Factory Hotel, celebrating the Queens launch of LG USA Mobile‘s impressive, new five-camera LGV40 ThinQ. Pictured above is OG Millie‘s rendition of the Buddha. Several more images follow:

The famed Brooklyn-based rapper Biggie Smalls

The legendary American rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix

The German-born brilliant physicist Albert Einstein

And all eyes upon her  — or the phone capturing her! –as she intently begins to paint live

Note: You can see the final piece painted live by OG Millie here.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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Pictured above is Ecuadorian artist Toofly, captured at work this past Saturday, the official launch of the 9th Welling Court Mural Project. What follows are several more images captured by travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad this past Friday and Saturday at this model community-driven mural project conceived and curated by Ad Hoc Art.

Brooklyn-based See One at work

The legendary Daze, standing in front of his mural, produced with Crash

Swedish artist Carolina Falkholt at work      

The nomadic Never Satisfied at work

Multi-disciplinary artist Ryan Seslow, huge segment of completed mural

Cambridge, MA-based Caleb Neelon with Boston-based Lena McCarthy, close-up

The murals are on view 24/7 on and around Welling Court in Astoria, Queens.

Photos:Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad

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Today, Saturday, June 9th, marks the ninth anniversary of the extraordinary community-driven Welling Court Mural Project, conceived and curated  by Ad Hoc Art. While visiting yesterday, travel and street photographer Karin du Maire aka Street Art Nomad captured several artists at work, as well as a few completed murals. Pictured above is the wonderfully talented Queen Andrea at work. Several more images follow:

John “Crash”  Matos — posing in front of his mural, based on a painting of his from 1980

Lmnopi

Joel Artista and Marc Evan at work on collaborative wall with Chris Soria

Netherlands-based Michel Velt at work

Cey Adams

KingBee at work

Peat Wollaeger aka Eyez

Herb Smith aka Veng, RWK, alongside his mural

Celebrate the launch of this model community-based mural project from 12pm – 8pm today at 11-98 Welling Court in Astoria, Queens. Check here for directions.

Photos by Karin du Maire

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Painted collaboratively by Queens-based Diego 127, FCEE and Whisper aka Chip Love, a fantastical alphabet mural has made its way onto a huge wall on 78th Street adjacent to the Garden School in Jackson Heights. While visiting the site as the mural was near completion, I spoke to classic graffiti writer, Diego 127, who had secured the space.

What an ideal spot for such a striking mural! 

Yes! I’d been eyeing this wall since I moved into this neighborhood in 2004.

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And how did you go about securing it for this mural?

I eventually connected with Dudley Stewart, an active member of the local community and the president of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance. And he was able to get us the support that we needed to make this happen.

How did you come up with this concept — this amazing alphabet?

Lots of text messages between Chip and me! And we loved the idea of playing with the letters of the alphabet — as we so often do — on a big wall.

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Why did you choose to work with white, black and grey? I love the effect. The impact of this mural is tremendous.

As an illustrator, I often work in black and white. And Chip, in particular, loves black and white.

Did you guys work from an initial sketch or did it all happen on site?

We had developed a loose plan. But the mural, itself, evolved organically. We free-styled, continually revising it and adding to it.

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How long have you guys been working on this mural?

We started in May; so it’s been two months.

How have the kids responded to it?

They love it and they’ve loved watching the process.

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Congratulations on this! I’m so glad I got to see it!  What a fantastical alphabet!

Interview with Diego 127 by Lois Stavsky; all photos by Lois Stavsky; photo #1 features FCEE; seated in final photo are: Whisper aka Chip LoveFCEE & Diego 127.

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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Curated by Ad Hoc Art, the Welling Court Mural Project is once again bringing a diverse range of intriguing murals to Welling Court and its neighboring blocks in Astoria, Queens. Many artists have already begun painting in anticipation of tomorrow’s Block Party. A few have already finished. Pictured above is a completed mural by See One. Here are several more images I captured today:

Queen Andrea

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 SP One at work

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Bluze

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Sinned NYC

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Onel and Roberto Castillo

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ASVP at work

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Tomorrow’s Block Party begins at noon at 11-98 Welling Court at 30th Avenue & 12th Street in Astoria, Queens.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from Wide Walls 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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Born in East Harlem and raised in Astoria, Queens, Louie “KR.One” Gasparro has been sharing his vast creative talents — both as an artist and as musician — with us for decades.  “Louie was an original,” Sacha Jenkins writes in the introduction to the recently-released KOLORSTORM: The Art of Louie “KR.One” Gasparro. “KR was a master of paint at a time in graffiti when there were more court jesters than kings, more tags and throw ups than masterpieces.”  Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to catch up with the impassioned artist while visiting his studio.

Louie-KR.ONE-Gasparro-with-graffiti

It’s been almost three years now since your first book Don1: The King from Queens was launched with a panel discussion at the Museum of the City of New York. How has the response to that book been?

The response has been overwhelming. I put a light on a NYC graffiti master who had been forgotten.  He had influenced so many of us, but was living in obscurity. I was determined to uncover his story and share it with others. I spent nine years doing that. But my persistence paid off.  I had folks from Italy writing to me after the book was released.

Louie-KR.ONE-Gasparro-the-lost-art-of-the-tag-graffiti

And what about your current book? It’s quite impressive! How did that come about?

While working on Don1: The King from QueensI developed a relationship with its publisher, Schiffer Books. And when I proposed a book of my own works, I was encouraged to see it through.

I love the way your new book is organized into distinct chapters on different themes — such as The Early Days, Black Books, Model Trains, Abstracts, Walls and more. There is such an amazing variety of works and styles represented here, as well as a documentation of your journey as an artist — from subway graffiti pieces dating back to the early 80’s to contemporary urban art. How long did it take you to get it all together?

I spent two years working on it.  The greatest challenge was deciding which works to include. Originally, I had 600 images. I then had to cut that down to 400.

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Kolorstorm is also an amazing foray into your inspirations and passions.  Can you tell us something about your influences?

There are many. Comic books, cartoons, graffiti art, rock & roll, heavy metal…

Who were some of your favorite musicians back then?

Among them are: Jimi Hendrix, Rush, Yes… For me — and for many of us — graffiti was never related to hip-hop. The connection was largely an illusion that was accepted by many as “fact.” Graffiti transcends all concepts of race, religion, culture and class. That’s what makes it so great.

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In what ways has your work evolved through the past few years?

The entire process has become easier. My artwork is more detailed, and my line works are better.

Your Abstrakts are on a whole different level! What inspired them?

I was just experimenting with colors and shapes. The Abstrakts evolved from the experimentation. I’ve been told that they are “informed by graffiti.” And so they may be!

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What’s ahead?

More art, of course! And opening Saturday (tomorrow) night is Art As An Answer, a one night only pop-up show with new works, presented by The Astoria Boyz and The Urban Foundation Gallery, at 208 East 73rd Street in Manhattan.

Congratulations!  It’s certain to be wonderful!

Images:

1. Cover of KOLORSTORM: The Art of Louie “KR.One” Gasparro, published by Schiffer Books

2. Louie “KR.One” Gasparro in his studio

3Louie “KR.One” Gasparro, The Lost Art of the Tag, True York

4. KR.One and Fome 1, IRT #2 Line, Bronx, 1982, Photo © Martha Cooper

5. Louie “KR.One” Gasparro, Abstract, Greyburst3

6Louie “KR.One” Gasparro, Band Member, Keyboardist

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; images 1, 4, 5 & 7 courtesy of the artist; 2, 3 & 6 photographed by Lois Stavsky in Louie’s studio

Note: Hailed in a range of media from Wide Walls 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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While attending the Street Art Expo NYC this past May in Elmhurst, I met the legendary Queens graffiti writer Alski. Struck by his passion and devotion to the graffiti culture, I was delighted to have the opportunity to interview him. We met up late last month at All the Right — a hip-hop clothing and graffiti art store — on the corner of 92nd Street and Corona Avenue in Elmhurst.

When did you first get up?  

It was back in 1979 in Corona. I was in the 6th grade at the time.

What were your main spots?

Street corners and the 7 train.

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What inspired you back then?

It was the incredible pieces I saw on my walks from Roosevelt Avenue to Junction Boulevard – works by Dondi, Fuzz, Flame. I remember being struck by their phenomenal colors. And I liked the idea of becoming popular — of getting known.

Did you paint with any crews back in the day?

I was mostly solo. The kids from school wouldn’t put me down because I was White.

How did your family feel about what you were doing back?

My father couldn’t understand why I was doing what I was doing! He yelled at me, but he was always good to me.

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What were some of the dangers you encountered doing what you were doing?

Running as I was getting chased and dodging bottles that were thrown at me.

Can you tell us something about your name — Alski?

I’ve actually had lots of names. But the Al is my tribute to Raskal; I like his handstyle. And ski signifies homie.

These days — would you rather work alone, or do you prefer to collaborate with others?

I generally like working alone, but collaborating with others allows me to get to know other writers.

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Any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide? Do you — personally — feel it?

There’s definitely resentment among some graffiti writers towards street artists. Many street artists come from privileged backgrounds, and they’ve gone on to earn degrees in Fine Arts. Most graffiti kids can’t spend money the way many street artists can to promote their careers. The writers also feel that much of street art is a sell-out. But, no, I don’t feel it personally. I’m neutral! I’m open to interviewing street artists for my podcast, as well as graffiti writers.

Have any particular cultures influenced your aesthetic?

The B-Boy culture and hip-hop were my main influences.

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I’ve been checking out The Alski Show. I love it.  It’s so much fun, and I’m learning so much. You’ve interviewed quite a few legends.

Yes. Among them are Ces, Moody Mutz, Fade AA Mobb, DusterDuel, Ket, Giz & Easy

You’ve been doing this weekly now for almost a year. I know that you work full time. That’s a lot of love and a lot of devotion.

It’s my way of giving back, of keeping the culture alive and pushing it forward.

The Alski Show certainly seems to be doing that!

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You can check out Alski’s website, Out to Crashhere.  And you can meet him tomorrow, Sunday, at the Street Art Expo NYC where he will be selling a range of merchandise — from canvases to his  OTCITY Truckbooks — and signing black books.

Photos: 1 Lois Stavsky; 2-4 courtesy the artist. Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky.

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