The first time I saw the name “Ian Knife” it was gouged into the top of a tree stump on Avenue A that had been carefully carved and painted to resemble the head of an Alligator. Impressive.
I’m not sure how long the Alligator Stump has been there, but I swear I only noticed it for the first time this past summer, when I was doing more than my fair share of walking in the neighborhood because everything was closed due to the Covid (#CovidLife). I didn’t realize at the time that Ian Knife was the name of the artist; I just assumed it was a dick move by some inconsiderate ass taking delight in tagging the Alligator’s face by carving his name into it. Because that is what people do.
Say His Name
Some time later, I started seeing the tag Knife spray-painted literally fucking everywhere from the East River Park throughout the East Village. Curious, I looked-up Ian Knife on the Google and I found this pretty cool article about his work as a Tree Stump Artist. I’m glad he is getting his name out there because his work is unique and fun.
Knife’s tree stump carvings, a few of which are described in the above article, are scattered all over the East Village, where he lives. This one of a ‘Man Behind Bars‘ is on First Avenue between St. Mark’s Place and Ninth Street.
If I spot more of Ian’s tree stump carvings I’ll add them to this post! In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled!
The Covid Life walks have lead me to all sorts of unexpected, magical discoveries! That might have something to do with the fact that I am now regularly exploring streets that, three months ago, I did not know existed. Case in point: Columbia Street. “Where The Fuck is That” you ask? It’s on the LES near Delancey, and walking north it eventually turns into Avenue D. But it was on Columbia Street, that I saw this box truck idling in front of a grocery store, bearing Buff Monster’s awesome pink tag, along with his signature Mr. Melty character. Sweet.
Living the Covid Life in its Manhattan epicenter is hardcore. New Yorkers are survivors though, and we still love our city. Queen Andrea wants to make sure we don’t forget how hard NYC rocks. She completed this beautiful mural on Avenue A between 3rd and 4th Streets on May 14th, 2020, which is why it still looks fresh!
Covid Life, it is now a thing. I’ve been working from home for two weeks already and I’ve fallen into a daily routine of taking a walk after lunch in the most isolated areas I can find, just to get exercise and prevent (delay) the onset of Cabin Fever. It cheered me immensely to discover this colorful mural by Kenny Sharf, populated with his trademark whimsical faces. Since I’ve been exploring new turf more than usual, I see his stuff all over doorways and gates. Who knows how long this has been here?
Spotted on Norfolk Street Between Rivington and Stanton on the LES.
Graffiti artist Kunle F. Martin AKA Earsnot, founder of the IRAK Crew, created this abstract rainbow mural in June of 2019 in celebration of NYC Pride Month. You can find near the corner of Suffolk and Delancey Streets in Manhattan. The mural was sponsored by the Lisa Project in partnership with The World Mural Project, which will be happening again this come June!
At the time of his death in 1983, Michael Stewart was an aspiring young artist new to the scene, and the details of hisdeath remain officially unsettled thirty-six years later. Stewart was arrested for allegedly writing graffiti in the First Avenue L train station in the early morning of September 15th, 1983, on his way home to Brooklyn after a night out with friends in the East Village. At around 3:30 AM, he was brought, hog-tied and comatose, by police to Bellevue Hospital, where he died thirteen hours later.
The Death of Michael Stewart (1983) represents the Basquiat’s attempt to envision Stewart’s encounter with the police that night, and pay tribute. Originally painted on a wall of Keith Haring’s Cable Building studio, laden with tags by numerous graffiti writers, Basquiat’s composition comprises three figures: two cartoonish policemen wielding their batons over the partially defined man between them. The figure, rendered in black paint, represents both Michael Stewart and the enormity of the history of violence against black bodies: it could have been any black man in the wrong place at the wrong time, in America. The word “Defacement?” hovers above the trio in the upper register, posing a question about defilement: Can the (alleged) desecration of property be an excuse for erasing a life? It is important to consider that during the 1980s, ‘defacement’ was frequently used interchangeably as a term for graffiti.
For Basquiat, who famously said about Stewart’s death, “It could have been me,” the tragedy brought to the surface his own conflicted status as a black artist in a city roiled by racial tensions and a predominantly white art world that in the early eighties was largely unengaged with the social and economic inequities of New York City. When Haring moved studios in 1985, he cut the work from the wall. In the spring or summer of 1989, he placed the painting in an ornate, gilded frame inspired by the decor of the Ritz Hotel in Paris where he often stayed. The painting hung above Haring’s bed until his death from AIDS-related complications in 1990, when it was bequeathed to his goddaughter, its current owner.
Photographed as part of the Exhibit, Basquiat’s Defacement: The Untold Story at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC.
Art By CES, AKA Robert Provenzano (All Photos By Gail)
Do you like Street Art? I Sure do. Whether you’re already an avid fan of street art, or are just curious about, and open to, getting schooled on the evolution of this rather phenomenal genre of pop culture, you have through the final weekend in September to immerse yourself in an ambitious, but temporary, street art museum called Beyond the Streets.
Spray Paint Cans Wallpaper Inside The Elevator
Paintings and Sculpture By TENGAone
Beyond The Streets is a celebration of society’s most pervasive mark makers and rule breakers with unprecedented purpose and scale; inside these walls you will find a collection of stories and works by artists past and present who have helped to propel graffiti and street art to extraordinary heights. Works from more than 150 of the world’s leading graffiti and street artists from past and present are represented, alongside cutting-edge contemporary artists and pop culture icons. The exhibit spans two full floors on the footprint of an entire city block, in a newly-constructed high rise office building on the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (the views alone are worth the price of admission).
Storefront Mural Photos By Jim Prigoff
Here’s One Of Those Views I Mentioned
Beyond The Streets explores the collective urgency of using the street as a canvas for expression, and while the subject matter varies and the mediums are many, it is in the public sphere where these messages find a home.
Mural By Tats Cru / The Mural Kings
The story starts more than 50 years ago, in the mid to late 1960s, when the contemporary concept of graffiti took shape in the streets of New York and Philadelphia. Disenfranchised youth, inspired equally from boredom and ego, started scrawling their names and monikers everywhere, spawning copycats and competition.
Subway Car Graffiti Photos By Henry Chalfant
These early acts of letter-based marks, created in both marker and spray paint, became monumental when repeated on a global scale.
Death of Graffiti 3 By Lady Pink
People have long taken to the streets to share a name, phrase, image or cause with the world around them to force a public discourse. Streets act as the symbolically important public stage that is both local and universal, the bedrock for both public protest and anonymous action.
Soul Train Mural By Lee Quinones
The streets also act as a tool for civic engagement and activism, and Beyond The Streets includes figures who have used their art to unite the oppressed around a common cause. As it is so often said, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and simple gestures in public spaces can quickly galvanize a movement, raising awareness of an issue and resulting in change.
Keith Haring With His Artwork Plus Decorated Leather Jacket, and Drawings by Jean-Michel Basquiat
For some, the streets were a starting point to evolve their message and style. Pushing their craft in figurative, illustrative, realist or abstract directions, they turned their energy and experience toward more traditional settings. For others, graffiti was never an origin, but an inspiration. Elements of graffiti and street art can be found across music, fashion and contemporary art, all helping this culture to proliferate further.
The Beasties Boys have multiple galleries dedicated to their music, memorabilia and hip hop legacy. If you’re a fan, you won’t want to miss it!
Pboto of The Beastie Boys Circa 1984 By Josh Cheuse
Beyond The Streets affirms a truth that cannot be overstated: Graffiti and Street Art would not have become what they have without New York City! Let’s take a look at a selection of the thousands of pieces of art — including sculptures, paintings, posters, flyers, installations, photography, and other ephemera that you’ll see in this fantastic exhibit!
Photos By Maripol
Art By John “CRASH” Matos
Art By Rammellzee
Friendly docent Lynzy gently reminds a pair of enthusiastic young ones that there is no touching of the art!
Daily Commute (Left) and The Four Seasons (Right) by Chris “DAZE” Ellis
Fuck Mural By Maya Hayuk
Kenny Scharf’s Totemtiki Kinetic Sculpture and Mural
Let’s Take a Break to Check Out That View Again!
Hip Hop Flyers By Buddy Esquire
Check out this crazy thing: the Magic TouchPorch Tattoo Parlor installation by Bert Krak and Alexis Ross. So cool!
Untitled Polaroid By Dash Snow
Model Train Examples of Freight Train Car Graffiti
Posters Collage Installation By Craig R. Stecyk III
Flower-Themed Art Installation By The Husband and Wife Team Known As DABSMYLA
Art Above and Below By André Saraiva.
Also By André: Lynzy’s Manicure!
Art By Cleon Peterson
Art By Craig Costello
Fan The Flames By Shepard Fairey
The politically-themed art of Shepard Fairey gets a huge amount of space in the exhibit (see below). All his stuff is great.
Trash Records Pop Up Record Store, Exterior
Trash Records Pop Up Record Store, Interior
Art By Mister Cartoon
Beyond the Streets is all kinds of crazy fun, and there is so much more on display than what I’ve had room for here. We spent close to three hours exploring the exhibit, just taking our time and looking at everything, but you could easily make a full afternoon of it if you really wanted to read all the stories and take a ton of selfies (there are many excellent selfie opportunities that I didn’t cover here, but trust me that the exhibit is infinitely Instagram-able). I’d suggest allowing a minimum of two and one-half hours inside the exhibit. Plan your visit now!
Beyond the Streets Runs Through September 29th, 2019 and is Located at 25 Kent Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn NY (Take the L Train to the Bedford Stop and Walk about 10 Minutes). Tickets are $25 for Adults and Kids Over 12, $11 for Kids Aged 6 to 11, and Free for Kids Aged 5 and Under. Visit This Link For More Information Such as Hours, Discounts, and to Purchase Tickets!
Art Above and Below By Faile (Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller)