Editor’s Note: The following is our latest column, Off the Wall, in The WG newspaper, which was published in early December.
North Brooklyn is indisputably an epicenter of street art. Whether it is the amazing homegrown talent painting murals, the local artists who dabble in art out in the open, visiting artists from Europe or Australia who leave their mark while exploring the city, or local businesses commissioning artists to create posters that are posted illegally, it’s a visual jungle out there and some of us really appreciate the role street art plays.
One of the pleasures for street art watchers is that every season a new batch of artists and work appear. New styles crop up, older styles wilt away, and there’s something for everyone.
We decided to compile a list of some of the most notable street art from the area in 2011. This is not a comprehensive survey but a taste of some of the exciting work that has been appearing on the streets of our dear borough.
El Sol 25 is no stranger to local street art lovers, but this year this talented artist outdid himself. Known for his hand-painted images that look like a zany remix of pop culture, his images — like the one in the center — all are original, multi-layered, and eye catching. On the left, you can also see a fantastically neon-colored series by Celso that was handprinted in Peru in the popular Chicha poster style. The series made and definitely stood out from the crowd. A memorial of sorts on the 10th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks, the scale of this work was eye-popping, but sadly, it was gone within a week or two. (all photos by the author)
This year, NohJColey has been using his street art to explore a very intense series about people and their vices. The work pictured here was about the “hoodwinked lifestyle,” according to the artist. When you visited this curious street sculpture you could pull its “strings” and move the figure’s hands to transform from a praying gesture to one that looked like pleading.
One of the most ambitious works in all of North Brooklyn this year, Skewville painted an entire building on Flushing Avenue in Bushwick to resemble an old style boom box. Created during Bushwick Open Studios, the image brought a whiff of old skool New York to a neighborhood that is experiencing fast-paced change.
Did you know that the proprietors of the Factory Fresh gallery have been working towards their goal of transforming the block-long Vandervoort Place into a street art park? Well, just to get our imaginations going they set up a temporary version on Saturday, June 4, and made us want more. Here we see a work by Leon Reid IV, who is known for injecting his cheeky humor into the everyday.
Rather new to the scene, Enzo & Nio have been very active all year. From their clever Emergency series to their Catholic school girls with guns wheatpastes, they create jarring work that makes you take notice.
We wish it were easy to identify all the street artists who work in the area but alas occasionally there are artists that forever remain anonymous. One unidentified series this year stood out. A mixture of the famous Brussels icon Mannekin Pis (Little Boy Pissing) and a Krylon spray paint can spouting yellow paint, this clever series was posted around the area and makes us laugh each time.
If the walls are the most common place to find street art, it’s definitely not the only “canvas.” MRToll is a street poet and sculptor who creates small works out of plasticine or clay. Sometimes they are miniature sliced cheese pizzas or Smurf-like mushrooms (like the ones pictured here), but they are always like Easter eggs in unremarkable corners or ledges, for street art lovers to find.
German artist L.E.T. (aka Les Enfants Terribles) created some well-regarded works in our fair corner of Brooklyn that spoke to the city’s changing face—and those left behind. His best series played with Milton Glaser’s famous I Heart NY graphic and portrays youth who “need it more,” as the work itself explains.
Quel Beast has been very active for the last couple of years in the area, but this year his work showed more sophistication than ever. Hand drawn and shaped, his faces appeared to emerge from the walls in which they were trapped. Quel awesome.
Veteran street artist WK Interact pulled off what we think is the most ambitious work of the year. During the week of 9/11, the French native pasted up a block-long paper mural in his smudged and streaky style that portrayed some of New York’s bravest. Anniversary of the terrorist attacks, the scale of this work was eye-popping, but sadly, it was gone within a week or two.
The adorable hearts of Chris Uphues are a staple of the neighborhood. Last month, he created a large happy heart mural for the recently shuttered Monster Island building on Metropolitan Avenue and Kent Avenue. Above the work drips of paint from the closing party that involved pouring paint down the walls as a symbolic (and artistic) goodbye to the building. For those who will miss Monster Island, don’t worry. One of its most active occupants, Secret Project Robot, has already set up shop further east in Bushwick.
For the original article of “The Best North Brooklyn Street Art of 2011” click here.