Post tagged with


Photos: When the Republican National Convention Came to the East Village

With the Republican National Convention underway in Tampa, Fla., photographer Matthew Kraus shares some thoughts and images of a convention that hit closer to home.

The few years following 9/11 were an interesting time in New York City. There seemed to be a closeness among New Yorkers that only such an event could foster. And there was certainly more than a little dissatisfaction in what our government was doing, partially in the name of that day. So when the Republican Party chose New York as the location of its convention during its 2004 bid to reelect Bush, there was a sizable amount of protest in all the usual places (the U.N., City Hall, Wall Street, etc.). Meanwhile in and around the East Village, I started noticing more and more signs, posters and predominantly stickers.

In those days, I would walk my then three-year-old to school from 14th Street and Avenue C to Second Street and Avenue A, and if I took a different route every day, I could photograph no less than 20 unique versions of these “protests.” They went up with shocking volume and speed and ranged from direct confrontation with Bush, to specific 9/11 references; from general rejection of the Republican Party to actual calls for action. Read more…

Watch the Trailer! New Centre-Fuge on First Street

Left to Right: Carson DeYoung's piece, Yok, Sheryo and BeauTim Schreier Left to Right: Carson DeYoung’s piece, Yok, Sheryo and Beau

Here it is! Cycle 4 of the Centre-Fuge Public Art Project, wherein curators Jonathan Neville and Pebbles Russell (a.k.a. Pebbles van Peebles) bring new art to a construction trailer on East First Street every other month. No celebrity cameos this time around, except of course for the artists themselves. Tim Schreier shot them at work between First and Second Avenues over the weekend. Read more…

Nice Guy Eddie’s Loses One Kiss Mural, Gains Another

IMG_0171Stephen Rex Brown Chico at work today.

The original Kiss mural at Avenue A and East First Street has been wiped out, and Antonio “Chico” Garcia is busy creating a temporary replacement that depicts the band comin’ home to New York City.

The new design is on a woodshed outside of the former Nice Guy Eddie’s, which is getting a gut renovation by the new owner, Darin Rubell, who also owns Ella and Gallery Bar. When finished in the next day or two, the mural will show the band arriving on a train to the city. Read more…

A Word With the 23-Year-Old Curator of ’93 Til Infinity,’ Closing Tonight

Photo on 2012-05-31 at 18.11 #3(3)Clayton Patterson Jessie Mac

At 23, Jessie Mac is one of New York’s youngest curators. Tonight at 9 p.m., her third show at Gathering of the Tribes, “’93 Til Infinity,” closes with a party featuring a screening of “Captured,” the 2008 documentary about photographer, curator, and local historian Clayton Patterson. The exhibition features Mr. Patterson’s early-90s photos of the Lower East Side amid floor-to-ceiling graffiti work by Mint&Serf of the Peter Pan Posse art collective. Ms. Mac spoke with The Local about working with Steve Cannon, the founder of Tribes who is fighting to hold onto the space.


How did you wind up as curator of Tribes?


I started working at Tribes a year ago as an intern when I met Steve Cannon. We cut a deal: if he taught me to curate I would dedicate my time to Tribes. It’s a non-profit so Steve is always in need of an extra hand. I never thought a blind man would be my artistic mentor, but I honestly would not be a curator without him. He taught me everything I know in the New York art scene. When people ask how he feels about not knowing what’s on the walls in his own space he says I’m his eyes. But I would have no direction without him. Read more…

On East First Street, Adam Yauch Lives On

DanielleMastrionwMuralStephen Robinson Danielle Mastrion with her art.
FumeroStephen Robinson Fumero with his work-in-progress.

Less than a week after the death of Adam Yauch, a mural of him and his fellow Beastie Boys appeared on East First Street yesterday, part of “phase 3” of the Centre-fuge Public Art Project.

The painting by Brooklyn native Danielle Mastrion joined new works by five other artists – Fumero, Michael DeNicola, Jade Fusco, CRAM Concepts and Bishop 203 – on a metal construction trailer between First and Second Avenues. Since the street-art initiative was launched in January, the modular unit has served as a canvas for a new batch of artists every other month.

One of them, Fumero, recently painted a mural on the walls of The Strand. See another photo.

Want Free Socks? A Man Named Skullphone Wants to Give Them to You

Screen shot 2012-04-19 at 4.07.51 PMDaniel Maurer

Thought the Hole’s indoor garden was wild? Fuse Gallery may just give it a run for its money when its latest exhibit, “XOS / SOX” opens May 2. Skullphone, the Los Angeles-based street artist last seen purdying up construction containers on East Fourth Street, is piling 1,000 “custom produced” socks in the gallery behind Lit lounge, for everyone to take. Street-art inspired footwear sure is a thing lately. Is this going to hurt business at Sock Man and Sox in the City? Dunno, but we’re definitely snagging a pair to toss in the drawer with those pink tiger-print aNYthing socks…

“XOS / SOX,” opening reception May 2, 7 p.m.; through May 30, Fuse Gallery, 93 Second Avenue, (212) 777-7988 

Michelle Obama Sneakers? Pop-Up Shop Is Kickin’ It Old-School

Want to sport Michelle Obama sneakers while sipping Barack-branded coffee? Here’s the place to go: Hip-Hop U.S.A, a Harlem-based company that puts on sneaker-art competitions, has opened a pop-up shop at 343 Lafayette Street, between Bleecker and Bond Streets. The Local stopped into the store’s opening to check out sneakers painted by graffiti artists in the style of their train murals from the 1970s and 80s. Seems subway artists are making a comeback.

Traces of De La Vega

DLV - China Star_3Kevin McLaughlin
DLV - Stromboli_2Kevin McLaughlin Pieces by James De La Vega.

The thick white chalk etched on an East Village sidewalk read:


East Village artist James De La Vega once brought this existential aesthetic — and his occasionally controversial thoughts — to the streets of the East Village and then for five years to his “Museum” on St. Marks Place, which closed last year citing rent increases.

A self-described “pessimistic optimist,” his presence in clever quotes and imagery remain part of the neighborhood’s urban adornments; goldfish holding umbrellas underwater and his signature “Realiza Tu Sueño” (“Become Your Dream”) are still found throughout the area. Places including the facade of The China Star restaurant on First Avenue, the garbage cans outside Stromboli pizza shop and Porto Rico on St. Marks Place all bear the traces of his noticeable absence.

Mr. De La Vega has since moved on to new projects and has bittersweet feelings about the area: “The East Village is a powerful neighborhood,” he told us. “The locals were my favorite but I don’t miss the neighborhood.”

Mr. De La Vega’s work resonates with simple, but profound, images and rhetoric, yet he also addresses various socio-political controversies, often through illustrations and commentary on behalf of his Latino heritage. He once addressed the gentrification of East Harlem through a painted a mural stating: “Don’t think for a minute that we haven’t noticed the 96th Street boundary moving further north.”
Read more…

The Day | New Faces, New Places

JR Paste UpMichael Natale
It Takes A Village
Team JRTim Schreier

Good morning, East Village.

Another major overhaul took place Thursday at the corner of Bowery and East Houston. A new face, pictured above, has replaced the colorful ghouls painted by artist Kenny Scharf on the Tony Goldman graffiti wall; EV Grieve says it’s called, “Lakota, North Dakota.” Community contributor Tim Schreier shared photos of the work in progress at right.

Local theatergoers will have their last chance to visit Performance Space 122 this Saturday before the venue on the corner of First Avenue and Ninth Street temporarily closes for renovations. Theater Mania reports that the organization — named for the old Public School 122 building it has inhabited since 1979 — will relocate until construction is complete.

Counter will also soon be gone. The vegetarian bar and bistro on First Avenue between Sixth and Seventh Streets told Gothamist that its closing is imminent, although owner Deborah Gavito has yet to give an exact date.

For Taggers, A Canvas with Coils

La Roc Tagged MattressIan Duncan A discarded and graffiti-tagged mattress.

Looks like those discarded mattresses have become just another spot for graffiti artists to display their work. This was spotted outside Twigs salon on East 11th Street between Avenues A and B yesterday afternoon. A woman who identified herself as Kristy Q. who works in the salon, said she saw someone tag the discarded piece of furniture sometime Monday afternoon. The work, apparently executed in marker pen, depicts bed bugs taking over the mattress but she said that she doesn’t know whether it’s infested or not.

Closer inspection revealed that the work bears the inscription “La Roc Lower East Side” — La Roc being a nom de pen of Angel Ortiz. Mr. Ortiz told The Local last week that he was done tagging , but he seems to have made an exception for this piece.

“I just stopped to write,” Mr. Ortiz said in a phone conversation. “It was garbage. I always tag people’s garbage, it’s nothing new for me.”

“It was sitting out for two days,” he added, referring to the mattress. “Sanitation didn’t pick it up so I thought I’d paint some bed bugs and maybe they would.”

John Satin, a friend of Mr. Ortiz who manages some of his correspondence, told The Local, “He can’t stop. He’s like a drummer who drums his fingers when he’s not playing.”

La Roc tagged mattressIan Duncan The tag also depicts bed bugs taking over the mattress.

Tagging the Question

Picture 016Kenan Christiansen Jeff Gurwin commissioned this mural at Avenue A and Second Street as a way to propose to his girlfriend, Caitlin Fitzsimons.

In a gesture of urban romance, East Village resident Jeff Gurwin, 28, proposed to girlfriend Caitlin Fitzsimons, 27, by commissioning a mural for her on Avenue A and Second Street.

“I knew I wanted to propose this way because we’re always taking pictures of graffiti. I wanted to integrate things into the wall that were special to her,” Mr. Gurwin told The Local in a phone interview.

The wall is covered by images of Ms. Fitzsimons family dog Parkey, her favorite flowers (yellow roses) and a cherry blossom tree modeled after a tree the couple often visit in Central Park.

The question itself is spelled out in stenciled Scrabble tiles, as the game is the couple’s favorite pastime.

Painted by graffiti artists Tats Cru, the mural took five hours to finish. This process and the subsequent proposal were taped for a stop motion video that has become a viral sensation on YouTube.

Marriage Proposal videoClick above to view a video of the mural’s creation.

Ms. Fitzsimons discovered the mural on her way to meet Mr. Gurwin, who told her he was food shopping. Instead he was waiting for her at the corner.

“She saw it and was so surprised. It was more than I expected. We were both just floating,” he said. In response to the romantic street art, Ms. Fitzsimons happily said yes.

For those who want to swoon over the mural in person it will be on display for the next month.

Packing Away His Spray Paint

Angel "LA II" OrtizStephen Rex Brown Angel Ortiz, the street artist known as LA II, has decided to stop producing street graffiti after a recent stint on Rikers Island on vandalism charges. Below: Mr. Ortiz with a recent piece.
Angel "LA II" Ortiz

LA II is taking his art off of the streets.

Angel Ortiz, the iconic graffiti artist known as LA II, told The Local that he’ll now only spray his paint cans in legal settings after spending more than a month at Rikers Island for a frenzy of tagging all over the East Village.

Mr. Ortiz said that his time in jail had essentially scared him straight — though the old-school graffiti artist who collaborated extensively with Keith Haring confessed that putting down his markers and cans would be tough.

“I’m hanging up the gloves,” said Mr. Ortiz, who’s 44. “No more spray painting in the streets. I don’t know how I’m going to do it.”
Read more…

Catching Up With Chico

IMG_0191Kenan Christiansen Antonio Garcia, the street artist known as Chico, recently received commissions for 10 new neighborhood murals, including this in-progress work outside Whiskers pet supply store on Ninth Street. Below (from left), Phil Klein, a co-owner of Whiskers, Mr. Garcia and artist Joel Salas.

It’s hard to walk around the East Village and not run into a mural by Antonio Garcia, who’s known to almost everyone by his nom de spraypaint, Chico. The locally born graffiti artist has spent most of his 34-year-career dedicated to painting the public walls of the neighborhood with lush murals often directly inspired by contemporary events.  When he was laid off from his job at NYC Housing in 2008 he left the city to live in Florida with his family.

“I always said I’d come back,” said Mr. Garcia, standing before his latest work at Whiskers Holistic Pet Care on Ninth Street.  “If they pay for my ticket, I’ll come.”

And even though he’s only been in the city a few weeks his murals have already began to proliferate.

On his most recent trip, sponsored by Branson B. Champagne, Mr. Garcia painted a mural celebrating the royal wedding on a wall in East Houston and Avenue B. The job only took 12 hours and he soon had more projects lined up. Before he leaves on June 24, Mr. Garcia agreed to 10 new mural projects in the neighborhood.
Read more…

Street Scenes | Appreciating Chico

chico_(3_of_1)Phoenix Eisenberg

Graffiti is an iconic form of artistic rebellion, whose epicenter has long been New York City.

With activities ranging from boxcar tagging to anarchistic promotion, the graffiti artist has a persona associated with intrigue and deviousness. But why the fascination with graffiti as a fine art in the last few years? Do popular graffiti artists today such as Banksy, Judith Supine, Shepard Fairey, and Dan Witz still portray rebellion?

Antonio Garcia, better known as “Chico,” started his career of spray-painting illegally, but soon found a new way to use his talents. Seeing the plain walls and brick that covered the Lower East Side, Chico saw a market. Today it is difficult to walk a block without seeing his commissioned work, whether it is a memorial or a small ad for a veterinarian business. Although Chico’s work is arguably just as skilled and creative as some of the greatest artists in the field, he has not drawn as much interest as Banksy or Shepard Fairey. Perhaps this is because, in jumping on the legal and marketable side of the art form, he risks losing the exact quality that draws so many to graffiti – the thrill of the illicit.

Paint Your Wagons

Avenue BColin Moynihan
East 9th Street (2)

Various forms of street art and graffiti, of course, are a familiar part of the East Village landscape, enjoyed by some, deplored by others and impossible to eradicate. Magic marker tags, murals, stickers and spray-painted shapes can be seen adorning walls, doors and sometimes even lampposts and fences in the neighborhood.

But some of the improvised canvases used by graffiti writers and painters are mobile. While roaming the streets of the neighborhood over the past few days The Local has kept an eye out for tagged vehicles. They have not been particularly difficult to find. It does turn out, though, that vans appear to be a more popular graffiti and mural target than any other type of vehicle.
Read more…

After a Theft, a Street Artist Speaks

Adam Cole a.k.a. CostDale W. Eisinger
aDSC_0774Jenn Pelly Adam Cole, the reclusive street artist who is also known as Cost, and the newspaper distribution box that he designed. The box was stolen from a street corner and Mr. Cole played a role in its recovery.

In the early 90’s, Adam Cole, a.k.a. “Cost,” hit the streets undercover. As one half of the now-mythic graffiti duo Cost and Revs, he was busy revolutionizing the graffiti world and catapulting the wheatpasting medium to an international street art phenomenon. According to Mr. Cole, he and Revs were wanted by the NYPD. He wore a mask in photographs.

In 2010, Cost’s life is different. After remaining largely quiet since a graffiti-related arrest in the mid-90s, he heads to Mars Bar for a recent interview — on the theft and recovery of his most recent work — in a Porsche. Over noontime beers, Mr. Cole explains he has done “okay” for himself with “honest work” as a small business owner. “I don’t want to run from the law anymore,” he says, each word’s articulation recalling his home borough, Queens. As one of New York City’s most infamous and enigmatic street artists, Mr. Cole found himself, in December, chasing after a thief himself.

Described by Cost as a “professional street art thief,” that Brooklyn-based criminal stole, a carefully crafted newspaper box Mr. Cole created for Showpaper, a free newssheet of all-ages DIY concert listings distributed throughout the city. The box was Cost’s largest public artwork since his mid-90s arrest, and hit Second Avenue at Houston Street one Monday last November. By the Thursday evening, it was stolen, and immediately posted on eBay with a $4,000 price tag. The box has been off the streets since—but after being recovered by project curator Andrew Shirley in December, it will return to the East Village in coming weeks.

When it first hit the East Village, the box was loaded with rocks and concrete, but Mr. Shirley, also at our Mars Bar meeting, was not surprised by its theft. “We dropped the box off around two in the afternoon, and as we drove back down First Avenue, that day, I didn’t even expect to see it then,” Mr. Shirley said. “I didn’t think it would last a day.”

“The thief represents society to me,” Mr. Shirley said. “Society is all about money —capitalism, and making a buck. The thief took the joy and purity out of the project.”
Read more…

5 Questions With | Eric Felisbret

Eric FelisbretCourtesy of Eric Felisbret Eric Felisbret.

After an MTA representative went to Eric Felisbret’s school to speak to his class against subway graffiti, his curiosity was immediately sparked. Despite being warned of the consequences of what his school called “vandalism,” Mr. Felisbret began exploring the culture of graffiti writing and dove headfirst into the world of street art. In the mid ‘70s, he tagged local streets and painted subway cars with his pseudonym DEAL, eventually becoming a member of the infamous writing crew known as Crazy Inside Artists. Now as the author of Graffiti NYC and co-founder of the old school graffiti website, Mr. Felisbret talks to The Local about how he continues to document the best works of past and present generations.


What is the difference between graffiti and street art?


Graffiti is almost exclusively letter-based, with a focus on signatures, bubble letters, and different letterforms. In street art, if an artist wants to use stickers or wheat pasting for a collage on a wall, they can. It’s a different kind of medium.


What made you want to document he graffiti you saw in your book and on your website?


I really wanted to let the younger generation of graffiti writers and the general public to get a bigger understanding of the history behind the movement. I wanted the public to understand that it’s not just vandalism, but a community of thoughtful organized artists. Read more…

On First Ave., A Graffiti Artist’s Return

aDSC_0774Jenn Pelly A newspaper distribution box designed by Adam Cole, the graffiti artist known as Cost. The piece is the first major public work in more than a decade by Mr. Cole, who has been largely inactive since a 1995 arrest for vandalism. Below: The reverse of the box.

A newspaper distribution box in the East Village now showcases the first major public work of art in more than a decade by one of New York City’s most infamous graffiti artists, Adam Cole, a.k.a. Cost. The work is a distribution box for Showpaper, the free New York newssheet that lists all-ages concerts throughout the tri-state area.

As one half of the graffiti duo Cost and Revs, the artist achieved mythic status in New York in the early ’90s graffiti world, for revolutionizing the wheatpasting medium and helping catapult it to a worldwide street art phenomenon.

The Cost-designed newsbox stands on Second Avenue at Houston Street, one of 12 Showpaper boxes redesigned last week by 25 notable graffiti and street artists at the Brooklyn art space Market Hotel. For Showpaper’s guerilla initiative, the newsboxes function as works of public art, with Manhattan and Brooklyn streets as their pop-up gallery. A map of locations is available here.

Mr. Cole, 41, has remained quiet since 1995, when he was arrested for vandalism. Then, The Times labeled him “New York’s most prolific graffiti-ist,” citing his arrest as, for some, “the end of an era.” Mr. Cole, of Rego Park, was 26. One irritated Times reader, however, wrote a letter to the editor saying: “The graffiti writer using the tag ‘Cost’ is probably the worst graffiti vandal in the history of New York.”

In their early ’90s unauthorized public art, Cost and Revs made use of the backs of “Walk/Don’t Walk” signs at nearly every intersection of Manhattan, with confusing slogans that perpetually included either the name “Cost” or “Revs.” (A 1993 Times piece on those curious, incognito Manhattan signs is available here.)
Read more…

The Art and Mystery of Jim Joe

IMG_7693Maya MillettThe graffiti artist Jim Joe is known both for his ubiquity and the simplicity of his style.

If you’ve walked around the East Village lately, chances are you’ve seen two words set in a declarative scrawl on the grit of concrete: JIM JOE.

His presence within the neighborhood is virtually everywhere — there’s JIM JOE written on the side of a building on the Bowery; JIM JOE written in chalk on a dumpster on East Fourth Street and Avenue A — yet his ubiquity and deft use of social media to promote his projects have helped him cultivate an aura of mystery and elusiveness beyond that of many other taggers.

“I MISS YOU BUT I CANNOT BEAR TO LOOK YOU IN THE EYES,” he wrote in an e-mail exchange with The Local, one of his rare responses to requests for comment from the public. “I WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE SEEN.”
Read more…