We The People, Six Murals for Philadelphia

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh and Dennis McNett outside of The University of the Arts, for We The People. Photo by Steve Weinik.

In 2017, I curated the We The People series for Mural Arts Philadelphia, a series of six murals by some of my favorite artists. I probably should have been writing about We The People on here regularly since July, but here’s a very belated update from Philly.

Before we get into We the People, a bit of context. The last year has seen the floodgates open in the USA, with national conversations on crises that have been festering under-reported for years, like sexual harassment and racism. The arts community has added their voices to the mix through projects like the Amplifier Foundation, Not Surprised, and the Whitney’s An Incomplete History of Protest.

This moment demands urgent public art. And muralists have responded. In at least one case, an artist was censored after-the-fact and had to make things work outside of an institutional context. But some mural festivals have embraced a spirit of activism, most notably WALL\THERAPY in Rochester, NY and Living Walls, The City Speaks in Atlanta, GA.

Questioning Whiteness by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, for We The People. Photo by Steve Weinik.

It’s in a similar spirit to all of those projects that we tried a little experiment in Philadelphia with We The People. When Mural Arts invited me to curate a series of walls for them, I figured it had to be of the moment, and with artists that they weren’t already doing a lot of work with. So we invited Molly Crabapple, Chris “Daze” Ellis, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Dennis McNett, NTEL, and Jess X. Snow to create work celebrating the best of the American spirit right now, while also reflecting current national concerns. Plus, it was a continuation of Mural Arts’ years-long effort to work with more street artists. There was little community engagement beyond what I and the project manager did while hunting for walls, but I think that by being careful about sites, artists, and content, we brought to life some strong, timely, and site-responsive work.

Continue reading “We The People, Six Murals for Philadelphia”

The Museum of the City of New York saves the seeds of a culture

Mural by Daze behind a display of spray cans. Photo by gsz.

Well, really, the headline here isn’t entirely accurate. The artist and collector Martin Wong saved the seeds of a culture, and then donated his collection the Museum of the City of New York. And then the museum mostly kept those seeds hidden away for about twenty years. But now the museum, with the help of curator Sean Corcoran and others, has brought those seeds back into the spotlight for a new generation to learn from. Of course, I’m talking about City as Canvas, the new show at the Museum of the City of New York, and the seeds I’m talking about are the seeds of modern graffiti.

The back story behind City as Canvas is pretty great. Wong, a painter who lived in NYC’s East Village in the 80’s, was noticing graffiti and as he met some of the men and women behind it, he began supporting the young writers by buying their work. Eventually, that turned into a major collection of work by New York train writers like Sharp, Daze, Lee, Futura and many more. Wong even tried to open his own “Museum of American Graffiti” in 1989, but it didn’t work out. Still, Wong had amassed something special and unique that captured a very important time period for graffiti as artists transitioned from trains to canvases and teenagers to adults, and as graffiti itself spread from New York City to the rest of the world. Eventually, he donated his collection to the Museum of the City of New York. Those are the basics, but really, the story of Wong’s collection has already been told very well and in more detail in the New York Times, so do check out that article.

As for the show itself…

Continue reading “The Museum of the City of New York saves the seeds of a culture”

City as Canvas: A rare collection on view soon in NYC


One of the greatest early supporters of graffiti artists was Martin Wong, a painter who lived in New York City during the city’s Golden Age of graffiti. Wong collected the work of young artists working outdoors like Lee Quinones, Rammellzee and Keith Haring. Wong’s collection is perhaps the best existing set of artworks that together give a sense of modern graffiti’s early days in the city where it (effectively) began. In the mid-90’s, Wong donated the whole thing to the Museum of the City of New York. It’s a collection that early writers often tell me about with a sense of wonder, and they always suggest that I have a look at the collection because I could learn a thing or two from it. Now, works from the are about to be exhibited publicly at the Museum of the City of New York for the first time.

City as Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection opens next Tuesday the 4th at the Museum of the City of New York. I’m excited to see so much early work (nearly 150 pieces) in person, and to hopefully get a sense of how Wong saw the early graffiti scene. In addition to some early canvas work by artists like Lady Pink and Daze, the collection includes a subset of work that should be particularly interesting for those of us interested in the history of graffiti: perhaps the only collection of blackbook sketches in a museum possession. The show also includes a new short film by Charlie Ahearn and photographs by Ahearn, Martha Cooper, Jack Stewart and Jon Naar. In case it’s not already obvious, let me just state that this sounds like it will be a must-see exhibition for graffiti geeks.

The show is accompanied by a new book by Carlo McCormick and the show’s curator Sean Corcoran.

City as Canvas opens February 4th and runs through July 27th.

Photo courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Wall\Therapy, the finished products


This year’s Wall\Therapy festival is winding down in Rochester, NY, so let’s have a look at the finished work (although a few were already covered by Daniel’s posts). There are a few really killer pieces, including this piece by Ever that I haven’t seen professional photos of yet, and some legal work along abandoned train tracks which is really interesting, but I’m not sure about this spot that looks like a little hall-of-fame setup. Those are valuable to have, but I personally wouldn’t put one in a mural festival these days. Still, plenty of good work all around, and I love that there are way more old-school writers at Wall\Therapy than just about any other mural festival I’ve ever seen besides perhaps a Meeting of Styles event. Conor Harrington knocked it out of the park, and Jessie and Katey did a simple but really effective piece.

Conor Harrington
Conor Harrington
Jessie & Katie
Jessie & Katey

Continue reading “Wall\Therapy, the finished products”

Wall\Therapy firsthand – Part 4

Adam Francey in progress
Adam Francey in progress

This is part 4 in Daniel “Halopigg” Weintraub‘s series of posts from Rochester’s Wall\Therapy mural festival. You can read part 1 here, part 2 here and part 3 here.

With just a few days in town left, I decided to make my Thursday a whirlwind tour through Rochester, and now that I am sitting here thinking about it, I have a feeling that Friday will be much of the same.

I started off my day almost exactly like I did on Wednesday, by checking out the progress on the Daleast mural. I was impressed by the progress that I saw but Dal still had a big section of the wall that he needed to bang out. I was told Thursday evening that the wall is complete and that I had to go see the mural in the morning.

Gaia in progress
Gaia in progress

My travels then brought me all around town, specifically the South Wedge section of Rochester. The South Wedge is where cashril plus, Gaia, Conor Harrington, Freddy Sam, Thievin’ Stephen, Cern, Mike Ming, and Adam Francy all have murals. It was really cool to see cashril plus’ mural being that the dude is still in his mid teens! Look out for this guy as he progresses though life. He has the right genes being that he is Faith47’s son.

After a quick lunch it was back into the abandoned subway tunnel to try to catch Roa finishing his North American Skunk. While I was unsuccessful in this venture, I was able to catch some graffiti legends rocking a sick piece. Daze, Binho, and Pose2 rocked a sick wall towards of the end of the natural light in the tunnel; the burner, if you will, is a sick blend of old school letters and characters, my favorite!

Pose2 in progress
Pose2 and Binho
Pose2 and Binho
Pose2, Binho and Daze
Pose2, Binho and Daze

Wise2 from Kenya then came down and rocked a throwie as I called it. His combination of stencils and freehand spray painting brought his African mask to life in under an hour!


Another highlight was getting to see local FUA Krew member Cruk rock a sick burner. I am much better versed in the “Street Art” game so whenever I can get a writer to teach me more about graffiti and train painting culture I am always excited. Cruk spent about a day on his burner, which includes found object that are sprayed and then used as part of the installation. While he may not be an official part of the Wall\Therapy team it is easy to see that the locals are pretty down with the cause.


After a quick run to check out the finished Freddy Sam mural, it was off the see LNY as he continued on his wall. Lunar New Year was in the zone when I showed up and I didn’t want to distract the man.

LNY in progress
LNY in progress
LNY in progress
LNY in progress

Martha Cooper then me if I’d been to Ever’s wall, and it was at this point which I realized that I had not seen it yet! My timing could not have been better. He had about 30 minutes of work left and I was able to spend that time on the lift with him as he finished a few details on the wall.

Ever in progress
Ever in progress

The mural is beautiful and kind of trippy, and if you know anything about me you would know that I dig on that combination. The wall itself is very wide and for someone with only an iPhone and an almost nice camera it was fairly difficult to shoot. Hope you like my picstitch!

After visiting Ever’s wall it was off for another night of dinner, drinking, and dancing. This time it included a late night bonfire with local artists, score!

Thievin' Stephen in progress
Thievin’ Stephen in progress

Photos by Daniel “Halopigg” Weintraub

Web hosting craziness link-o-rama

Photo by Luna Park

For the last week or so until today, we’ve been in the process changing Vandalog’s web hosts. No need to get into the technical details, but now the site should run more smoothly and with less downtime. Unfortunately it means that we haven’t been able to write anything new on the site since that process began (everything that’s gone online was pre-scheduled). So this is a mega-link-o-rama combining the usual weekend link-o-rama content with stuff that I could have written about last week even if I’d had the time.

Photo by Luna Park

This Side of Paradise @ the Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx: Scenes from an Opening

RJ shared background info and some photos last week regarding This Side of Paradise, an extraordinary exhibition that opened this evening at the Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx.  Curated by Keith Schweitzer with No Longer Empty, it features the work of over two dozen artists who — working in a wide array of styles and media — have transformed an abandoned mansion into a fascinating aesthetic experience, embracing a range of social and cultural issues. Here are some photos captured at the opening that focus on those artists whose works have been surfacing on the streets of the Bronx for years:

Crash installation, close-up with young documentarian at work
How & Nosm, close-up of huge 3-dimensional installation

Photos by Lenny Collado, Sara Mozeson and Lois Stavsky

Retna at the historical Bowery/Houston wall

Photo by i_follow

Keith Haring. Daze. Os Gemeos. Barry McGee. All of these artists have painted murals at the same spot at Bowery and Houston in New York City. The Street Spot has a history of the spot over the last five years, but it’s been being painted since at least the 1980’s. This week, Retna became the most recent great artist to paint at Bowery and Houston. Unfortunately, I’m not on the east coast right now because I would have loved to have seen this mural being painted, but plenty of New York photographers have been over to document the new mural both in progress on Monday and Tuesday and as a completed piece. Check out some of my favorite shots by Matthew Kraus after the jump… Continue reading “Retna at the historical Bowery/Houston wall”

American Folk Art Museum brings graffiti to Venice

Blade sketch

The American Folk Museum (AFAM) is one of my favorite places to visit when I’m in New York. I’ve always found something a bit strange though: this NYC based museum dedicated to self-taught artists has never done anything related to graffiti. Until now. This summer, AFAM is putting 4 old-school graffiti writers in an exhibition in Venice during the Venice Biennale. Vision and Vernacular: Eight African-American Artists in Venice includes four self-taught graffiti writers selected by Carlo McCormick: Blade, Quik, Daze and Sharp. Each artist will make an installation at the Fondaco dei Tedeschi. The show runs from June 1st-15th. This show should be really interesting, especially in contrast to the rest of the Biennale, and is definitely a giant leap forward for AFAM by acknowledging graffiti.

In a seemingly odd match, the exhibition is sponsored by Benetton, as in United Colors of Benetton, but hey, whatever gets the job done done!

Image courtesy of AFAM