Over two days, artist ND’A was invited to paint a tall narrow space nestled between Nick Walker and Jay Shells at Bushwick 5 Points. At the crossroads where St Nicholas, Troutman, and Scott meet, Joe Ficalora has created a street art oasis. While his family have owned the buildings for years, Joe has taken it upon himself to breathe new life into them. When speaking to Joe, you can tell the passion he has for the artists with whom he shares his walls. This passion has created a space where artists from other countries as well as the New York area can have a more permanent home than the temporal streets that surround his buildings.
Since his visit to Mexico in June with LNY, ND’A’s style has shifted from text-based to the symbolic. Originally incorporating lyrics from various sources including music, the artist has moved towards a more universal meaning for his murals. Rather than having the text connote a specific reference, he is using symbols to create an appeal for the general public. For example, “drunk or sober never lose your composure,” as he used in his Bushwick Open Studios panel, will divide viewers as either those who understand the RZA line or those who are left feeling outside the reference. However, when removing the lyrics and leaving only the symbols behind a crown, a wolf, a bike lock, and a foam finger can take on a number of meanings for those who venture to Bushwick 5 Points.
As recently as June both artists worked within eyeshot of one another for the Welling Court mural project. With this familiarity, visitors may think that they’ve seen every iteration of the Stain/Iurato pairing. However, both artists have gone above and beyond the labor required for a typical gallery show and the results are astounding.
On the surface, Chris Stain and Joe Iurato appear to be tied together because of their stylistic choices. Both typically work in minimalistic color palettes, with the occasional pop of color thrown in for good measure. Both depict relatively realistic portraiture.
However, when put side by side in a gallery instead of spread out over blocks, it is the outstanding differences of these artists that makes the work of Iurato and Stain that makes viewers’ knees buckle in awe. Stain is known for depicting the everyday man. Drawing upon his working class background, whether it is a former student of his or someone else from his life, the artist renders portraits of people that are highly relatable.
In contrast, Iurato takes what would look like your average person walking on the street and adds hints of the divine. Many of the pieces that the artist created for Deep In The Cut show his hooded modern day saints, emblazoned with halos. By placing modern day saints in conversation with working class hero, Mighty Tanaka has created a dialogue that has to be seen for the full impact to come across. As with many ethereal things, words cannot do it justice.