Will Power

Active on both the streets and in his studio, Will Power fashions stylishly seductive images, often fusing elements of  graffiti, street art and fine art. His talents can now be viewed not only on the streets of his native New Jersey and throughout NYC, but in  the group exhibition, On and Off the Streets: Urban Art New Jersey, that continues through February 27 at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey. While selecting studio works to feature in the exhibition, I had the opportunity to interview Will.

When and where did you first get up?

I first got up in 1983. And about a year later I did my first character, a devil. In 1985, I hit the White Castle on Journal Square. No one had ever hit that wall before. I was 14 at the time.

Had you any preferred surface back then?

Any place visible.

Did anyone or anything in particular inspire you at the time?

The movie Style Wars. It came out in 1983.

Do any early graffiti-related memories come to mind?

Racking up cans and bombing the bathrooms in Dickinson High School. The entire building was covered with graffiti.

Were you ever arrested?

Never! I knew what I was doing. I knew when and where to do it.

Did you belong to any crews back then?

A few. TFK (The Fresh Kingdom); KOC (Kings of Cremation) and MOB (Masters of Bombing).

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I’d rather work alone. Often when I collaborate, I feel as though I’m carrying the other person. The exception is Albertus Joseph. We began collaborating in 2018, and we’ve developed our distinct aesthetic that we call “Gritty City Styles.”

Is there anyone, in particular, with whom you’d like to collaborate?

The Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo. I’d like to paint graffiti-style over his Sistine Chapel.

Have you any thoughts about the street art/graffiti divide? You certainly bridge the two.

The line is getting thinner and thinner. The problem is that street artists and graffiti writers don’t really get to talk to each other. The writers feel that the street artists are doing it for the money. But our motivation is really the same. We love what we do, and we have fun doing it!

What about the street art scene here in New Jersey? Any thoughts about it?

We need a “scene!” There are not enough legal walls and it’s all too cliquish. And I’d like to see the state do more to promote local artists.

Street artists are increasingly collaborating with the corporate world. Have you any feelings about that partnership?

That depends on the circumstances, the particular product and the way it’s being represented.

And how do you feel about the movement of graffiti and street art into galleries and museums? 

I feel good about it. Graffiti and street art should be moving into galleries and museums. It’s the logical progression.

How would you describe your ideal working environment?

It’s in my home. I find a space to paint in my house, and it becomes my studio and my sanctuary.

Have you a formal art education?

No. I’m self-taught. Graffiti was my teacher.

What inspires you these days?

My main sources of inspiration are: hip-hop, iconography, God and the Bible.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

I lived with my mother’s family in Thailand for three years from about 4-7. I vividly remember the detailed, decorative repetitive patterns and the classic spiritual beauty of the Buddhist temples. And I spent six months with my stepfather’s family in Egypt after I graduated from high school. There was gold everywhere! That’s what stands out. But the hip-hop culture has always been my main influence.

Is there a central theme that ties your work together?

Hip-hop and spirituality.

Do you work with a sketch-in-hand or just let it flow?

Mostly, I don’t. But for commissions, I sometimes have to.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece? And how do you know when it’s finished?

I am satisfied with it. I know it’s finished when it feels balanced.

How important are other’s reactions to you?

On my studio work, they’re not important. But when I paint outside, it’s for the people. And then it matters.

How has your work evolved through the years?

It began with tagging and bombing the streets, and now it’s working on canvas fusing elements of graffiti, urban art and fine art.

How has the work you’ve done on the streets impacted your studio work?

The media I use are largely the same ones I use on the streets: spray paint, wheatpastes, stencils and charcoal. But I’ve also begun working more and more with oil paint and oil sticks in the studio.

How has your studio work evolved in the past several years?

I’m definitely taking more chances, and my tones are often more subtle. And working with oil paint adds a classical element to it.

How long do you generally spend on a studio piece? On a street art work?

I spend, on the average, of about three months on a studio piece, and anywhere from 4-6 hours on a work on the streets.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society? 

My role is to share my God-given talents with others.

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

I’d have to say all of it, because even at my day job – my main source of income – I paint in my head.

Note: Will Power‘s work remains on view through February 27 at the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ and for the next several weeks, you may even find him collaborating with the legendary Al Diaz at First Street Green Art Park.

Interview by Lois Stavsky

Photos feature Will Power‘s studio and street art in various indoor and outdoor venues. Images 3 & 8 in collaboration with fellow Ex-Vandals member, Albertus Joseph

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Pictured above in Part II of our documentation of the politically-driven “Shared Freedom” mural art project — curated by Will Power at First Street Green Art Park — is Calicho Arevalo‘s playful mural, as captured by Ana Candelaria. A few more artworks follow — with even more to be featured on the StreetArtNYC Instagram page.

NYC-based Miami-native Sacsix, “Chokey on the Smokey”

NYC-based multimedia artist Early Riser

Painter, actor and professional skateboarder Danny Minnick in front of huge segment of his beguiling mural — as captured by Berky

Veteran Bronx-based graffiti writer and painter Zimad – as captured by Berky

And Zimad earlier at work — as captured by Berky

Painter and graff master Heart1

And Heart1 — with spray can in hand — as captured by Berky

While visiting the “Shared Freedom” mural art project, be sure to stop by the  POP UP GET OUT THE VOTE / RETAIL STORE that has been set up  adjacent to First Street Green Art Park — on 35 E 1st Street. And don’t forget to VOTE!

Photo credits: 1 Ana Candelaria; 2, 3 & 7 Lois Stavsky and 4, 5, 6 & 8 Berky

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Under the curatorial direction of Will Power, over two dozen artists — representing a diverse range of cultures, backgrounds and aesthetic styles — have transformed First Street Green Art Park into a mecca of socially and politically conscious mural art.

The image featured above — depicting the late George Floyd — is the work of the hugely talented artist and curator Will Power. Several more images captured at First Street Green Art Park follow:

Painter and muralist Albertus Joseph depicts Sitting Bull

And Albertus Joseph with Will Powercaptured by photogtapher Chris Vanberkim aka Berky

Brooklyn-based Bianca Romero pays tribute to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

And Bianca Romero — captured at work by Berky

Phetus88 playfully brings a serious message to us all

La Femme Cheri and OG Millie — captured at work this past Sunday by photographer Ana Candelaria

The impetus behind this project, states Will, is to encourage people to get out there and vote. And in collaboration with Anthony Bowman (pictured below), a POP UP GET OUT THE VOTE / RETAIL STORE has been set up — adjacent to First Street Green Art Park — on 35 E 1st Street.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4, 6  & 8 Lois Stavsky; 3 & 5 Berky and 7 Ana Candelaria

Note: Be sure to check out Part II of this post on Thursday.

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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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Curated by Bianca Romero, the new Lombardy Walls is a delightful addition to East Williamsburg’s visual landscape, bringing color and charisma to what was once a banal North Brooklyn block. The huge mural featured above was painted by Brooklyn-based Bianca Romero in what has become her distinctly infectious signature style. What follows are several more artworks that surfaced this summer for the first edition of Lombardy Walls.

Brooklyn-based Dain on door

Street art veteran and Robots Will Kill founder Chris RWK

Harlem-based Marthalicia Matarrita

Chicago-based Czr Prz

  Filipino artist Jappy Lemon, currently based in NYC, does Spiderman

Will Power and Albertus Joseph do OlDirty Bastard

Lombardy Walls is located at Lombardy Street and Porter Avenue.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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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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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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Fusing symbols of Latino Catholicism with elements of a pop sensibility, the Holy Art Show showcases the works of over a dozen artists, including many whose works surface on our streets. Curated by Frankie Velez and Savior Elmundo, the exhibit remains on view at Williamsburg’s Cafe de la Esquina through Sunday. Here is a sampling of the intriguing works on exhibit:

Marc Evan, The Lady of Guadalupe Appears

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RockoArt Is My Religion

Rocko

Savior ElmundoArt Is My Religion

savior-el-mundo-art

Ben Angotti, Sacred Heart

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Carlito 624!, Purple Reign: Units in the City

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Will Power, Crucified My Passion

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 Curators, Savior Elmundo and Frankie Velez

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The exhibit continues through this weekend at the lovely Cafe de la Esquina at 225 Wythe Avenue between Metropolitan and North 3rd Street.

Photo credits: 1, 3, 5 & 6 Tara Murray; 2 & 4 City-as-School intern Sol Raxlen and 7 Lois Stavsky

Note: 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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After visiting the superb Ex Vandals exhibit — featuring over 30 artists — at More Points Bx last week, I had the opportunity to speak to its curator, Sienide.

What prompted you to curate an exhibit featuring the Ex Vandals?

It’s my way of paying homage to the pioneering graffiti crew.  It was one of the first organized crews dedicated exclusively to writing that went on to develop various styles of piecing. I am one of the newer members.

sienide-graffiti-on-canvas

What was your greatest challenge in curating such an ambitious exhibit?

Trying to represent the spirit of the Ex Vandals by getting as many writers involved as I possibly could. The Ex Vandals is now international, but the focus here is on local writers.

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There’s such an incredibly diverse range of artworks here. I was wondering how that happened. Were artists given specific instructions of assignments?

No! I just asked each artist to bring in one work on canvas.

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How did the opening go?

It was great! It was definitely the most successful show I’ve done! And we sold several pieces — an added bonus to an amazing event!

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How can folks see the exhibit? 

It will be up through the 29th at 527 Faile Street in Hunts Point. An appointment can be arranged to view it by contacting me at sienide@gmail.com.

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What’s ahead for More Points Bx?

We are booked through November with a new exhibit every month. Among those artists who will be featured are: the TMT graffiti crew and the photographer Joe Conzo. We are also planning a pop-up show featuring new works by BG 183.

Great! We are looking forward!

Special thanks to Eric Orr for hosting us at More Points Bx on short notice!

Images of artworks on exhibit:

1. Serve

2. Sienide

3. Cone

4. Will Power

5. Kool Kito

Photo credits: 1, 2 & 5 Tara Murray; 3, 4 & 6 Lois Stavsky; interview by Lois Stavsky

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

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SinXero

Opening tomorrow evening — Tuessday, November 26 — at the Dorian Grey Gallery in the East Village, Fine Flavas is an ode to the creative energy of the streets. Featuring an eclectic mix of artwork by SinXeroAndrés Correa, Will Power and Kool Kito, the exhibit continues through November 30. Here are a few more images:

Toronto-based Andrés Correa

Andres Correa

The legendary Kool Kito, Ex-Vandals

Kool Kito

Jersey City native Will Power

Will Power

Dorian Grey Gallery — one of our favorite spaces for street art, graffiti and a range of contemporary art — is located at  437 East 9th Street between 1st Ave and Ave A.

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First image is a collabo by SinXero with a vintage 80’s photo of Crazy Legs captured by the legendary Henry Chalfant. All others as identified; photos of artworks by Lois Stavsky

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