Tag Archive | Police Brutality

Justice for George Floyd: Mural and Street Art in the East Village

george floyd memorial mural photo by gail worley
Photos By Gail

In the past few weeks, the city streets have become a canvas for protest art spawned in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by the police.  On one of my regular evening walks this week, I spotted this small mural of George’s likeness, bearing the words ‘justice’ and ‘coexist,’ at the corner of First Avenue and East 13th Street. You can see that someone has placed a prayer candle on the sidewalk in front of the mural, but it’s easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention, because the mural sits below eye level.

george floyd memorial mural photo by gail worley

This mural is entitled Justice, and it was painted by New York-based Japanese artist Dragon 76 (@dragon76art).

blm george floyd photo by gail wortley

Everyone should be familiar with the basic facts of how George Floyd died, but it case you aren’t, you can read it in the above photo. This is one of a series of stickers posted along Avenue B with the names and stories of black people who have lost their lives to police brutality and racially motivated violence. It is extremely sobering but also inspiring to join this call for justice.

say their names photo by gail worley
Photographed Outside Fishs Eddy on Broadway Between 19th and 20th Streets

Say Their Names.

blm trash and vaudeville photo by gail worley

In the windows of closed businesses, merchants and residents stand in solitary with our African American neighbors.

blm storefront photo by gail worley

Let us not allow this moment in time to pass without enacting real change, starting within ourselves.

fight the power photo by gail worley

black lives fucking matter photo by gail worley

I found this one in Freeman Alley.

George Floyd’s sacrifice will not be in vein.

george floyd memorial mural photo by gail worley

Rest In Peace.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Jean-Michel Basquiat, The Death of Michael Stewart

The Death of Michael Stewart 1983
Photo By Gail

At the time of his death in 1983, Michael Stewart was an aspiring young artist new to the scene, and the details of his death 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.