Beautiful Decay: NYC’s withering wheatpastes

My favorite wheatpastes rarely lose their beauty. They just continue to evolve until they, sadly, wither away. Here are a few:

Imminent Disaster in Bushwick, Brooklyn
Imminent Disaster in Bushwick, Brooklyn — 2013
Swoon in Gowanus, Brooklyn
Swoon in Gowanus, Brooklyn — 2012
Swoon, close-up, in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn
Swoon, close-up, in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn — 2013
Cake in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Cake in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 2010

Photos by Dani Mozeson, Tara Murray and Lois Stavsky

The Affordably Fun Art Fair Arrives in Bushwick

Youth Waste
Youth Waste

I love the notion of an affordable art fair that features works by artists whose visions also surface on our streets. The Affordably Fun Art Fair, opening tonight, Friday,  6-10pm at 330 Ellery Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn does just that — presenting over 40 such artists who are selling their works for $150 or less. While visiting, I was struck by the incredible range of works for sale — from the starkly elegant to the boldly comical. Here’s a small sampling:

Tony Depew
Tony Depew
Billy Mode, close-up
Billy Mode, close-up

Conceived and coordinated by Rhiannon Platt, the fair continues from 1-6pm tomorrow, Saturday.

Photos by Lois Stavsky

Two Ways to Ruin a Borough


After a cold several months in Germany, like many artists Cake has returned with the rising temperatures to complete new murals, the first of these for Fountain Art Fair. Covering her canvas with layers of paint, gold leaf, and a wash resulted in a halo’d figure taking scissors to her neck as the blood flowed away from the wounds and spun its way into gold leaf. A mix of beauty and intensity, these feature were only echoed in the work’s title “Two Ways to Ruin a Borough.” While the brush strokes may issue the end of her figure, the spring will see it as the beginning for Cake and many other artists.





Portraiture in Berlin: New from Cake and Various and Gould

Various and Gould

During a visit to Berlin, New York-based street artist Cake has teamed up with locals Various and Gould to plaster the city with an impressive array of images. Two of the prints that Various and Gould posted are part of their Modern Saints series, which brings to light current social concerns through the use of religious iconography. These religious influences are echoed throughout the pair’s work, from the symbology of the objects the figures are holding to the scroll-like patterns repeating in the background.


In a complimenting color palette, the Cake continued creating portraits of those close to her, accompanied by the signature sunset hues and facial expressions for which she is known. The surfaces on which Cake chose to wheatpaste her work add to the aesthetic intrigue. Part of a new series titled The Girls of Fortuna, the melancholic expressions on each figure looks off into the distance is further heightened by the layers of peeling art and tags that dot the walls. Each one seems to be trapped in the visual chaos that surrounds them, looking for a way out.

Continue reading “Portraiture in Berlin: New from Cake and Various and Gould”

A long overdue post: Living Walls 2012

Mon Iker

Last month, I was at the Living Walls Conference in Atlanta, but it’s only now that I’ve really had a chance to sit down and write about it. I thought that I was going to write this really long post, but the environment at Living Walls is difficult to capture in words, so this post isn’t nearly as long as I would have hoped.

Miso. Click to view large.

Living Walls is, as far as I can tell, the best mural conference/festival/program going on right now in North America. Living Walls doesn’t tend to just invite all the artists who are painting at other mural events around the world. They invite good artists. Sometimes those artists are guys like Roa who are everywhere, and sometimes it’s women like Miso who have only ever painted one or two murals. As a result, Living Walls sets trends among mural festivals.

Lex and Sten

For their main conference this year, Living Walls really bucked popular trends and tried to put street art on a new track by having a festival made up almost entirely of female muralists. While guys like Gaia, LNY and I were still invited to speak at the lecture and panel portion of the conference, the murals by Lex&Sten and Indigo&Andrzej Urbanski were the only two where male artists were contributing.

Martina Merlini

While the murals weren’t as amazing on the whole as they were last year and the crowd of artists wasn’t nearly as rowdy (although that might have been a plus), this year’s Living Walls did bring some great work to Atlanta and really showed that there are some underrated female street artists and muralists out there who could be on the mural circuit as much as guys like Jaz or Roa. My hope and expecting is that the top-tier of artists from the conference will get more attention brought to their work thanks to Living Walls and some will start getting invited to a lot more mural festivals. As I’ve said in the past, I do not generally get excited to give artists preferential treatment based on them belonging to some underrepresented group, but I can see why an all-female Living Walls may have been the right move for this year even if the quality of the work did drop slightly.

Jessie and Katey

This Living Walls conference had more artists than ever before who were either more on the community mural side of the spectrum or had never painted a mural before. The results of that move were mixed, but there were some artists like Jessie&Katey and Mon Iker who took the opportunity and absolutely crushed it.

Hyuro. This wall has since been painted over.

One thing I have to add isn’t so much about the art though. Whether Living Walls were inviting only artists that none of us have ever heard of before or stealing their line-up from Nuart, it would still be at least one of the best mural conferences in the world. That’s because Living Walls’ secret is in their amazing staff. Living Walls has best team of volunteers of any mural festival I’ve ever seen or could imagine. They are unbelievably dedicated to the festival and to getting more world-class street art and murals in Atlanta. Every day, the media team led by Alex Parrish was up until something like 4am putting together a video of what had gone on that day, and then they’d be back up at 7am to start filming all over again. Just last week, I was emailing with Keif Schleifer, their Logistics Director, who was spending her free time advising me on cherry-pickers. The day of the Vandalog Movie Night, volunteers showed up out of the blue to help us set up and run the show. Laura Calle and pretty much everyone else on staff who spent their own money to pay for the gas to drive myself and the artists around Atlanta. The drag queen who was a volunteer last year and this year helped arrange a drag show for the Living Walls Block Party. The artist assistants who stand in the hot sun alongside their artists all day long, offering any help they can. And of course, Monica Campana, the Executive Director of Living Walls, who is the amazing glue holding everything together without ever sleeping or slowing down. Everyone on staff or volunteering at Living Walls works at least as hard as the artists, and they were certainly working harder than me. After visiting two years in a row for just a few days each time, it honestly feels like I have family in Atlanta.


Much more after the jump… Continue reading “A long overdue post: Living Walls 2012”

Williamsburg murals


Gilf recently organized a legal spot for seven artists, including some of my favorites, at 229 North 10th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Here are the finished results:

Sofia Maldonado
Joe Iurato
Icy and Sot

Photos by Gilf

Preview: Young New York auction


As Caroline mentioned earlier this month, the group Young New York is having a charity art auction this Tuesday at White Box Gallery in New York to raise money for their restorative justice art workshops with teenagers who have been put into the adult court system in New York.

Here are just a few of the dozens of artists with work in the auction: Steve Powers, NohjColey, Joe Iurato, Cake, Overunder, Gaia, Rudie Diaz, LNY, Blackmath, Mare139, Doodles, ND’A, Radical!, C215, Clown Soldier, Jill Cohen, Labrona and Luna Park. And here are a few of pieces that will be on offer:

Sean Lugo and Blacksmith
Radical and C215

Photos courtesy of Young New York

Young New Yorkers

Young New York: A Silent Art Auction & Fundraiser is an fundraising initiative for the Young New Yorkers (YNY) program, which aids and raises awareness for teens who have been legally classified “adults” and thrown into New York State’s adult criminal justice system.

The silent action will be happening Tuesday May 29th from 6pm-10pm at WhiteBoxes projects, and feature works by Steve “ESPO” Powers, LNYSteven Holl, Gaia, LabronaNohjColeythe YOK, ASVP, Doodles, Radical!, Feral Child, Cake, Ian Kuali’i and many others. All proceeds will go toward enabling workshops with successful artists, designers, teachers and social workers who will use creative theraputic methods to reach out to these teens in New York State’s criminal justice system.

You can purchase tickets to attend the auction here. For more information check out the YNY website or Facebook.

Cake’s Women at Home off the Bowery

About four years ago, I began noticing Cake’s women wheatpasted onto the walls of  Williamsburg and Chelsea.  Their poignant elegance transfixed me.  Even in various stages of decay, they never lost their heart-rending beauty.  Thanks to Keith Schweitzer and MaNY, in collaboration with FabNYC, three of Cake’s women have now found a home off the Bowery in Lower Manhattan.  Here are some scenes from today’s installation:

And a wonderful full view of the installation can be seen on Cake’s page.

Photos by Lenny Collado and Lois Stavsky

Inside Out – Cake and Don Pablo Pedro


In an interesting pairing, Cake and Don Pablo Pedro are showing together this week at Mighty Tanaka in Brooklyn. To be a bit boring and quote from the press release, it’s certainly true that their work “both compliments and conflicts.” I find that with Cake, I’m drawn in by the beauty of the work overall only to then look at the actual content of the work to see more disturbing elements that are not so beautiful except in the way they are depicted. With Don Pablo Pedro’s work, I tend to be drawn in by the disturbing/erotic/perverted/disgusting/surreal content of his paintings, only to then notice how beautifully made they are. Either way, they each seem to have found something that works.

The show, Inside Out, opens on Friday the 17th and runs through March 9th at Mighty Tanaka.

Photo courtesy of Cake