In the spring of 2014, the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program installed psychylustro, a multi-site artwork by Katharina Grosse, across sections of the Northeast Rail Corridor in Philadelphia. Grosse treated walls, warehouses, and even trees as her canvas. psychylustro‘s bold colors and brush strokes certainly changed the scenery for Amtrak commuters, and Hyperallergic described the work as “a mysterious, puzzling, and surprising presence.” But psychylustro was also an intervention at a site usually controlled by graffiti writers.
There was graffiti along the rail corridor before Mural Arts and Grosse got to work, and it’s no secret that psychylustro was tagged and bombed. For six months, Mural Arts regularly revisited the walls to apply fresh coats of neon paint. And then… they stopped, leaving psychylustro to the elements, the writers, and the buff.
Although psychylustro did cover notable graffiti (including works by Retna, Nekst, Skrew, Curve, and Ntel), it also presented an opportunity: Before installation began, Mural Arts invited Martha Cooper to document the graffiti at the sites where psychylustro was going to be. And recently, a little over a year after Mural Arts stopped maintaining psychylustro, they sent photographer Steve Weinik to revisit the installation. The result is a likely unparalleled documentation of graffiti along the Philadelphia section of the Northeast Rail Corridor in 2014 and 2015.
One nice perk of working at Mural Arts is that I have access to those photos. Since I’m about to leave Mural Arts for New York City, it seems like the perfect time to show the evolution of the psychylustro walls, from the graffiti captured by Martha through to how they look today. The photo captions are incomplete, but hopefully useful nonetheless (thanks to NTEL and Air Rat for help with captions). Enjoy!
With their vigorous, brightly-hued fusion of pop imagery, comic art and graffiti elements, Pose and Revok, along with support from other MSK crew members, have fashioned — perhaps — the most dynamic mural to ever grace the famed Bowery and Houston wall. Along with their current exhibit, Uphill Both Ways at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery, their artwork is a testament to graffiti’s ongoing evolution and vitality.
And in their tribute to the legendary Nekst and to the true spirit of graffiti, the two have, also, left their mark on the streets of Bushwick, Brooklyn:
Photos by Dani Mozeson, Tara Murray and Lois Stavsky
Banksy‘s website was updated recently with an animated tribute to Nekst, a very talented internationally recognized graffiti writer who died last year. The screenshot above gives you the basic idea of Banksy’s tribute, but you can see the piece in action on his website. This is the first update we’ve gotten from Banksy in a little while. I think the last street pieces he put on his site were the Olympic-theme pieces from last July.
In other Banksy-related news, the above Banksy piece was recently removed from the streets of London and put up for auction in Miami at Fine Art Auctions. The piece, of course not authenticated by Pest Control but is pretty clearly by Banksy seeing as it’s on his website. The BBC has more about the removal of the piece. At this point, the legality of the removal is unclear, but the community is certainly disappointed. That same auction also includes another street piece, Wet Dog, which was painted in Bethlehem and was removed a while ago (it was also featured at the Context art fair in Miami last year, supposedly not for sale at the time).