NYC-based Australian-American multidisciplinary artist and muralist Charlie Hudson has been exploring the city by foot over this past year. Inspired by these walks, he has crafted an extraordinary range of geometric artworks on wood. With their seductive colors, alluring patterns and tantalizing textures, they are at once gritty and elegant. Several works captured on our recent visit to Charlie’s solo exhibition, Points of Distraction, at Ki Smith Gallery follow:

Elevated Trains, 2021, Acrylic and oil on wood, 38 x 6 x 4 in.

Subway Over Bridge, 2021, Acrylic and oil on wood, 19 x 51 x 3.5 in.

Vanishing Point, 2021, Acrylic and oil on wood, 22 x 15 x 3 in.

Orange Mist, 2021, Acrylic and oil on wood, 14 x 14 x 3 in.

Sun Spot, 2021, Acrylic and oil on wood, 52 x 27 x 3 in.

Small segment of installation of sculptural paintings

Located at 197 E 4th Street, Ki Smith Gallery is open Wednesday – Sunday, 12:30 – 6:30 p.m.  You can also book an appointment for a private viewing here.  Points of Distraction continues through May 9.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 4-6 Lois Stavsky; 3 & 7 Sara C Mozeson

Note: The first image features the artist standing outside Ki Smith Gallery .

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The rotating walls that surface in the East Village and in Chinatown — under the curatorial direction of street art aficionado and photographer Ben L. — feature some of NYC’s most delightfully expressive murals. Largely painted by local artists, the walls occasionally showcase the talents of those visiting from abroad, as well. The image featured above is the work of Beijing-born, Brooklyn-based artist and Thrive Collective member, Peach Tao. Several more murals currently on view at East 2nd Street off First Avenue follow:

Lima, Peru-based Monks

Argentine-American artist Ramiro Davaro-Comas in collaboration with Outer Source on the First Ave. Laundry Center shutter 

Moscow-born, NYC-based Urban Russian Doll

New York-based photorealistic muralist BKFoxx

NYC-based Early Riser

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

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Not only was the late legendary writer Fernando Miteff — known to most of us as Nic 707 — a master of multiple styles, but he was also the founder and curator of one of NYC’s most distinctly impressive public art projects, InstaFame Phantom Art.

Beginning in 2009 until his untimely death last year from Covid, Nic 707 regularly rode the MTA trains with the singular mission of transforming their interiors into a one-of-a-kind pop-up gallery in motion. Having accompanied him on many of these adventures, I witnessed first-hand not only his boundless passion for graffiti, but his deep love for all art, as he showcased contemporary artworks in styles ranging from figurative to abstract, along with his and other writers’ tags, throw-ups and pieces.

And the response of the train riders who viewed Nic’s pop-up shows was almost always overwhelmingly positive. Many posed questions to Nic as they photographed his installations, and in response, Nic would graciously school them on the history of graffiti, its impact on contemporary art, the personal histories of the varied artists and more.

InstaFame Phantom Art (Volume 1): The Nic 707 Collection (NYC Transit Exhibition Catalog) is the perfect tribute to Nic — a paean to his creative energy and vision — and a gift to us all. Penned by his brother, Karim Miteff, it not only features dozens of images of works by Nic and by several other artists that rode the trains between 2009-2013, but it tells the story of graffiti and of Nic’s particular circumstances, including his 27-year hiatus from the culture. Much, in fact, is presented in Nic’s own words, as told to Karim.

Among the key subjects the book covers — in addition to Nic 707’s story — are: the tools writers use, the evolution of their styles, their code of ethics and the development of crews. Nic 707 was, in fact, the founder and first President of the Bronx-based OTB Crew.

And featured, of course, are dozens of images of variations of Nic’s iconic Kilroy character, described by the artist as “a kind of an entity…a presence. Even though he has no eyes, he sees all…but he doesn’t judge. He promotes love and holds the key to a silent and ancient wisdom. He represents the potential for alien intervention to help save mankind.”

Nic 707 was one-of-a-kind. He was, as his brother accurately describes him, a “Style Master. Visionary. Time Traveler.”

Writing about InstaFame Phantom Art back in 2015 in The New York Times, David Gonzalez described the project as one “with hundreds of one-of-a-kind panels that would be the envy of any urban gallery.”

I am already looking forward to the second volume of InstaFame Phantom Art: The Nic 707 Collection (NYC Transit Exhibition Catalog). 

Images:

1 Book cover, 2021

2 Black Star Bumper Car on the IRT 4 train, 2013

3 Lollipop$, 2012

4 Souls in Transit, 2013

5 Choose Your Palette, 2012

Photos 1, 3-5 Courtesy Karim Miteff; Photo 2, Lois Stavsky

Book Review by Lois Stavsky

Note: The book is available here.

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Lower East Side native Marcus Glitteris is not only an intriguing self-taught artist but a passionate curator, as well.  Largely  influenced by New York City’s Downtown club scene, he teems with the energy that permeated it. Earlier this week, I stopped by Home Grown, an exhibit he curated at Village Works in the East Village, and posed a few questions to him:

Can you tell us something about your vision in curating this exhibit?

Its main focus is to showcase the varied works of a wide range of artists who live or have lived on Manhattan’s Lower East Side or East Village.

And what about this wonderful space?

Village Works is the name of this new gallery. Designated specifically as a space to showcase NYC artists, it sells rare art books, as well as art. My friend, Joe Sheridan, is the creative director here. We know each other from the night life scene, but since, Joe has since ventured into the the artist community and invited me to curate here. This space used to be an architectural firm.

What about the show’s title? It does seem appropriate now that I know a bit of the backstory. 

“Home Grown” is a term lots of New Yorkers, especially those in urban neighborhoods, grew up with. It references the distinct qualities and influences of a particular neighborhood. In my case — and in the case of many artists in this show — it is the Lower East Side.

The range of artists here is so varied — in terms of their backgrounds and choice of media. How did you choose which artists to include in this exhibition? 

It’s a community. Many I’ve known for a long time. Others I met and got to know in varied circumstances. Carol Fassler, for example, is a photographer I met on many occasions over the years on Thursday nights at the New Museum. And then there are artists who were new to me…whom I didn’t know anything about. Nora Timbila, for example, was introduced to me by Joe. When I curate, I like to mix up shows with artists who are established, artists who are emerging and artists who’ve never had a show before.

What were some of the challenges you faced in seeing this exhibit through?

Working with artists in any industry can be complex. Some of the artists — especially the more established ones  — ask, “Who else is in the show?” or “Where is the venue?”  So I have to deal with that. And it can get stressful!  To be a successful curator, though, I have to admit that I’m not always right, and yet still set boundaries. A curator has to have patience, compassion and love.

How was the response to this particular exhibit?

It was wonderful! The energy was great, as were all the people who came by.

Congratulations!  I especially loved discovering artists in Home Grown who were new to me.

Note:  Home Grown continues at Village Works, 90 East 3rd Street, through next Wednesday, April 14. Text 917.749.0319 to find out if the gallery is open or to make an appointment.

Images:

1 Optimo NYC 

2 Marcus Glitteris

3 Marina Reiter

4 BC1 NBA

5 Nora Timbila

6 A. Candela

7 As seen from the outside — Renda Writer and Hektad

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo credits: 1, 4, 5 & 7 Lois Stavsky; 2, 3 & 6 A. Candela

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Bold and engaging, the murals that surface in Trenton, New Jersey are largely site-specific, many paying homage to those who call Trenton and its neighboring towns home. The image featured above — painted collaboratively in 2014 by Will Kasso, Luvonesta, Andre Trenier and Lank — looms large over a colorful playground, a short distance from the Trenton Transit Center. Several more artworks, far more recent, captured earlier this week on my first visit to Trenton follow:

Trenton-based legendary artist Leon Rainbow — two of four murals paying homage to frontline workers

Close-up

Trenton artist Dean ‘Ras’ Innocenzi pays homage to the late New Jersey skateboarder Brendan Wilkie —  one of several murals featured in the 2020 “Murals on Front Street” project, coordinated by Leon Rainbow

Philly-based Spanish artists Saoka and Imse  for “Murals on Front Street”

Austin, Texas-based masterly graffiti writer Sloke One  for “Murals on Front Street”

And Luvonesta and Lank bringing it inside to Trenton’s Starbucks, close-up from huge mural

Photos by Lois Stavsky

Special thanks to James J Kelewae for introducing me to the streets of Downtown Trenton

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One of my favorite spots in town, First Street Green Art Park continues to host — under the curatorial direction of Jonathan Neville — a wonderfully diverse mix of mural art and graffiti.  The image featured above was recently painted by Brooklyn-based Danielle Mastrion. Several more murals that have made an interim home in this now-legendary spot, where the Lower East Side meets the East Village, follow:

Outer Source aka Star Farther, another of his galactic space-scapes that continue to enhance our cityscape

Brooklyn-based Brazilian style master Primo1

Brooklyn-based Stavro 

The legendary Meres One 

Argentine artist Ramiro Davaro-Comas

Staten Island-based John Exit

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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This past fall, a diverse range of artists who live or work in Hoboken, NJ converted 15 utility boxes into alluring artworks. The charming image pictured above, The Hoboken Tree, featuring birds representing varied nationalities that have found a home in Hoboken, was painted by local painter, designer and illustrator Alison Josephs. Several more images — all reflecting the notion of “equality and inclusion” — follow:

Hoboken resident, Greg Brehm, Home Sweet Hoboken 

South India-native, self-taught artist Sayeed A. Syed, Clear Skies

Colombia-native, Hoboken-based multi-media artist Anita Torres Milena, Universal Lotus

Hoboken-based artist Chesleigh Meade, Venuses of Hoboken

West Coast-bred, Hoboken-based style master Matthew Dean, Hoboken United

Russia-native, Hoboken-based multi-media artist Raisa Nosova, Silver Mask

All of these artworks and more can be found along Washington Street —  from 1st to 14th — a short walk from the PATH train’s Hoboken stop. The “Art Box Mural Project” marks the first initiative of The Hoboken Arts Advisory Committee, “a group of local citizens–artists, merchants, organizational leaders and public officials–working to bring innovative, interesting and beautiful public art to the City of Hoboken.”

Photos by Lois Stavsky; more from this project to be featured on the Street Art NYC Instagram

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Prolific, passionate, and hugely inventive, both Clarence Rich and Mr Mustart are among Jersey City’s most prominent street artists. POLARITY: New works by CLARENCE RICH & MR. MUSTART, showcases their talents  — individually and collaboratively — in a tantalizing exhibition that continues through April 13 at Jersey City’s PRIME Gallery.  The image pictured above, 3rd Eye, was fashioned with mixed media on canvas by Clarence Rich. Several more images from the exhibit — curated by PRIME  Gallery director, Maria Kosdan — follow:

Mr Mustart, Polaris, Mixed media on canvas, 11 x 14”

Clarence Rich, Solace Sky, Mixed media on canvas, 24 x 30”

Mr Mustart, Dry Ice, Mixed media on canvas 16 x 20”

Clarence Rich, Hippy, Mixed media on canvas, 16 x 20”

Mr Mustart, All Eyes On You, Mixed media on canvas, 40 x 60”

Clarence Rich & Mr Mustart, Poetic Justice, Mixed media on canvas, 11 x 14”

And painted directly onto the wall by Clarence Rich & Mr Mustart

PRIME Gallery is located at 351 Palisade Avenue in Jersey City Heights. To visit you can contact its director here.

Photo credits: 1-7 Lois Stavsky; 8 Courtesy PRIME Gallery

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Charged with glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy in his songs, Spanish rapper Pablo Hásel was arrested and imprisoned last month. For the past several weeks since his arrest, demonstrations have erupted almost daily, and dozens of murals have surfaced advocating “freedom of expression.” While the demonstrations have, on occasion, turned violent, the street art has been a peaceful diversion.

The image above, painted by the talented Barcelona-based Catalan artist Cinta Vidal, features the rapper as he is being painted over — or obliterated — by the king.  Several more of the ephemeral murals follow:

Barcelona-based Galleta Maria depicts a double-headed snake that is preventing a woman from speaking

Graffiti writer Kader One at work painting the rapper hanging while grasping a keychain featuring a crown

Spanish artist El Edu, at work on “La Llibertat (h)a mort,” mourning the death of freedom

Graffiti writer Antón G. Seoane aka SlimROK, “Freedom or Fire”

Barcelona-based Argentine artist Zosen, “Libertad Expresion,” a call for the “freedom of expression”

All photos by Fernando Alcalá Losa; courtesy, Audrey García

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The following book review is by Street Art NYC contributor Houda Lazrak

For over a decade, the POW! WOW! Street Art Festival has been bringing standout murals by internationally renowned artists to cities throughout the globe. POW! WOW! WORLDWIDE!: 10 Years of International Street Art, authored by the festival’s founder and curator Jasper Wong and published by Paragon Books, pays a well-deserved homage to the hundreds of murals created during the festival’s many iterations.

POW! WOW! WORLDWIDE!: 10 Years of International Street Art, chronicles POW! POW!’s many editions in fifteen cities, with page spreads of striking murals. Each chapter begins with an image of a location’s discerning geographic or urban features: Taiwan’s sprawling nightlights, Long Beach’s palm-tree lined waterfront, Antelope Valley’s field of tulips, Haiwai’s oceanside downtown, Rotterdam’s glass-lined buildings.

Photographs of the murals follow with many in-progress images of artists at work including: Nychos, Jeff Soto, Cinta Vidal and Tran Nguyen. The process shots are dynamic and illustrate the labor of mural making. Readers are also provided with biographical information of each of the participating artists.

Featured are many examples of collaborative murals. The mural painted by James Bullough and Ricky Watts, for example, fuses Bullough’s realistic portraiture with Watts’ fluid shapes and psychedelic patterns. In another mural highlighted, Rone’s figurative signature style meets Aaron de la Cruz‘s calligraphic mazes. And featured, too, is a three-person collaboration between Cambodian, Japanese and Hawaiian artists Andrew Hem, Yoskay Yamamoto and Edwin Ushiro, respectively.

The book also features candid shots of festival goers, participants and organizers, offering a window into the festival’s atmosphere beyond the art-making. In his forward, editor-in-chief of Booooooom Jeff Hamada, describes the festival’s intention as a “naive desire to bring people together – not just to paint walls and go home, but to actually get to know each other, share stories, and form real friendships.

Jasper Wong also writes that the festival’s name itself, POW!WOW!, “is taken from a Native American term that describes a gathering that celebrates culture, music and art, which spoke to [their] core mission to beautify, educate and bring people together through art and music.” The book portrays this intention and the excitement that unravels. The unique urban culture of cities is also shown in image compilations. Among these are: Korea’s thriving music and food scene, and San Jose’s bicycle culture.

POW!WOW! is often invited to return to its host cities, attesting to the positive value that murals add to the vitality of metropolises. In flipping through the pages, the location types are noticeable: artworks are often erected in residential areas, discrete alleyways, and unpretentious parking lots. It serves as a reminder of POW!WOW!’s contribution to diverse neighborhoods, beyond hyper visible spots in downtowns areas or arts districts.

POW! WOW! WORLDWIDE!: 10 Years of International Street Art is a welcome addition to any street art aficionado’s library and can be purchased from most online book stores.

Featured images

1 Book cover, TRAV MSK, in Long Beach, California, 2018

2 Overview of Taiwan

3 Nychos & Jeff Soto, Hawaii, 2013

4 James Bullough and Ricky Watts, Hawaii, 2018

5 Jet Martinez, San Jose, 2017

6 PichiAvo, Worcester, 2017

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