Traveling to Queens from Manhattan on the 7 train, you’ve probably seen this large warehouse completely covered in graffiti. To on-lookers, the four story block-long structure may be an eyesore, with its yellow façade falling victim to vandals. From a distance, a developer’s plan to knock down the century old building to make way for two residential high rises seems justified. When you look closer at the building, however, you see colorful murals created out of spray-paint and stencil. This building known as 5 Pointz is a place for graffiti artists to hone in their craft; where they’re allowed to paint on the four story walls. Known as the mecca of graffiti art, it would be a shame to see 5 Pointz sacrificed for a redundant tower that will house over-priced restaurants and snooty shops, many of which have dotted the East River over the past five years.
Ever wonder about the world of tattooing? Not just the technique behind an ink soaked needle, but the passion that goes into creating art on skin? To get an in-depth look at the artistic side of tattooing, I recently met up with tattoo artist Jeremy Garrett – a.k.a. NYARTMAN. Garrett discovered his calling at the School of Visual Arts. Always passionate about illustration, Garrett’s career in tattoo artistry was something that happened accidently. Garrett explains “it started when a friend of mine asked me to give him a tattoo. Back then, I was actually very snobbish about tattoos. [Tattooing] gave me a chance to do art and earn extra cash…Word got around about my work, and soon I was doing tattoos for kids all over campus and beyond” From that point on, Garrett’s love for tattooing flourished as he began to develop a serious business from a hobby.
Like the colors of oil in pooled street water, New York City artists bring a beauty to a city that city dwellers so many times overlook. There is a magic that lingers just under the city’s smog. Sprinkling itself on the dreamers that believe in New York City anyone can be anything. Those artists who are immersed in the magic of New York can testify that developing an art that rises above the city’s millions can prove a difficult task. But such is the beauty about New York. In such a concentrated area of inhabitants living one on top of another, the known and the unknown artists can one day find a platform for their medium.
Stephen Wiltshire climbed into a helicopter and took a twenty-minute ride over Manhattan’s historic skyline. From those twenty minutes, Wiltshire began producing an 18ft sketch referring only to his memory. Diagnosed with autism at an early age, Wiltshire found that he communicated best with pictures.
Dennis is an up and coming designer from Brooklyn. A childhood love for drawing led him to a career in graphic design, and Dennis has been creating urban-wear for eight years now. His line of clothing, “ToySLDR,” consists of hooded sweatshirts, casual sweaters, and t-shirts for men and women that can be purchased http://www.toysldrs.com.
Dennis thought long and hard about the name of his clothing-line. Then, after looking back to his childhood and remembering his favorite toys, he decided what better then to call it “ToySLDR” Because money was tight growing up in a single-parent household, he couldn’t always get the toys he wanted. However, for just a dollar, Dennis often bought a large pack of 20 toy soldiers. He reflects “Of course I had hundreds. So essentially even while having a little, I had a lot.” He adds “couldn’t think of a better way to represent myself, other than a memory like that, serving as a constant reminder of where I started, ended up, and planned to go.”
While his childhood inspired the “ToySLDR” moniker, his hobbies and interests serve as inspiration for his pieces. For example, music plays a major role in his work. “Some pieces were created from phrases or how I felt when hearing a certain song that inspired a visual.” For Denis, his mind is always at work, picking up ideas both big and small. It is from these racing thoughts that he carefully chooses which one actually “works” when putting an idea down on canvas. Dennis says “A lot of my ideas seem great in my mind, but just don’t translate well when putting it out there.”
Animation also plays a major role in Dennis’s inspiration for his work, stemming from his enthusiasm for comics, old Karate movies, and video games.
The piece that speaks to Dennis the most is “The Dream” sweater, imprinted with the words “Dream, Create, Inspire.” Though “The Dream” is probably one of the simplest items, it is also the most vocal to Dennis, as it speaks on a personal level for him. It’s a message that he wishes to share with others: “Not necessarily with just art, but whatever it is you do. No matter what dream you set yourself out to achieve, don’t just do it well. Be great. Be incredible at it, no matter what that ‘it’ is. So much so, it inspires those who see it to WANT to do the same. That’s what great art does for me. Seeing something so well done makes me want to do better. It serves as an inspiration to dig a little deeper, push ideas a bit further.” As inspiration comes to him from the outside world, he aims to inspire his customers with his products..
Dennis’s hard work and dedication will help him reach his goals and overcome the challenges that he faces: “Slowly but surely, I’ll get to where I need [or] want to be. If it all came easy, there’s no satisfaction.” This process takes tremendous dedication, involving late nights in front of his computer to develop new ideas. But even with the computer off, Dennis is up late sketching in bed, doodling, or even thinking about how to improve a certain piece. He wouldn’t have it any other way and just wishes there were more hours in a day for his art.
Despite the challenges that he faces, what Dennis finds rewarding is the growing amount of appreciation and support for his work as both a designer and an artist. He further adds “It’s as if all those late nights and all day brainstorming ideas is worth it, because somewhere out there, there’s people who support what you do. I can’t stress enough how humbling a feeling it is to know that people are using their hard earned money on something you created. He feels much gratitude for this experience and adds “The day I bump into someone wearing a piece, I’d probably stop them and ask to take a picture with me!”
Ultimately, Dennis would love to pursue his art as a fulltime career, instead of it being a something he does on the side. In the next two to three years, he would love to see ToySLDR be as it is now, but on a larger scale. His goal is to reach the point where ToySLDR is on the list of common brand name street-wear. He would love to open up a flagship store here in the city while expanding to shops outside New York. And hopefully, someday Dennis will have the opportunity to work with the designers whose work he respects most. He mentions his wish to create alongside Nick Tershay or Nick Diamond from Diamond and Co., or to collaborate with Bobby Kim or Ben Shenassafar of “The Hundreds.” He concludes “It’s not limited to just them however; I’m always willing to trade ideas with creative people to build something.”
Art can be anything. Proven, case-in-point, at the 14th Annual Gowanus Artists Studio Tour that took place October 2nd. The event lasted from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., showcasing various kinds of art from all different kinds of artists in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, NY.
Twenty-eight studios spread across 19 blocks housing artists and art aficionados; along with the smell of red and white wine, cheese and chocolate loading the hallways.
Of course there were your painters, like Kit Warren, who affirmed with paint that there’s beauty in a virus, Denise Deleray, who showed that there’s beauty in every woman, painting faces of females of all different races, placed together like a puzzle.
Beatrix J. Piesh, showed there is beauty at the bottom of a teacup. No, really…
Art can be anything, and Piesh’s display of a wall filled to the brim with pictures of paper stained with the circles of dried tea that drips to the bottom of your cup after sips. Most hues of the tea were brown, but in the calendar-like portrayal that took place over a year, one could spot green circles from green tea and hues more yellow than brown from honey-lemon tea.
… Not to mention a couple tea-bags here and there.
Graphite and conté crayon artist Karen Schmauk, Brian Petro and Laura Lee-Georgescu were more names that represented the painting posse well.[caption id="attachment_5092" align="alignright" width="225" caption="Lee-Georgescu and Crevice."][/caption]
Petro, a traveling artist, who’s gone from Brazil to Italy and back, exhibited his 10+ wonders of the world, including sun-dried store market signs (which gave them a 1950’s look); scrunched-up jeans that he painted on, portraits with newspaper and paper currency from all over the globe mixed into his subject’s faces.
“Currency is, all trust, in the world. Its cotton fiber; product. All it is, is trust, just for purchasing. So, your dollar bill is worth really like two cents of product, but mentally, its worth so much globally,” said Petro.
Lee-Georgescu, another traveler, dipped and dabbed in different color experiments, as well as photo-etching and woodblock painting. One piece in particular called Crevice was a wet-on-wet; (wet paint on wet paper), brushed upside down for a dripping effect at the top with a mix of spray paint at the bottom. Rose, pinks, and dark greens in Crevice drew a volcanic eruption in the minds of onlookers, as well as a depiction of Hades, and even the entering of the first circle of Hell in Dante’s Inferno.
Luckily, we were still on Earth for now at least, where art was in the form of installation in sound and video, thanks to Michael Clemow and Amy Khoshbin, respectively.
Khoshbin could have gotten an Oscar nod for the representation of her father, who is Iranian, choosing to act as him in his answers to different questions she’d ask him over long phone conversations.
This particular version of The Father Tapes dealt with his response to how he felt about the holidays. Christmas was the topic, and her display included ripped wrapping paper and ornaments on a carpet, next to a huge brown chair that a Christmas stocking laid on top of.
A television was in perfect view from the chair, showing the video of Khoshbin costumed in her father’s big round glasses, short hair-cut and 5 o-clock shadow.
Not to be over-shadowed, photography also played a part in AGAST. Cecilia Schmidt’s exhibit of bird watching looks like anything but bird watching from afar.[caption id="attachment_5095" align="alignleft" width="452" caption="Cecilia Schmidt."][/caption]
Schmidt, a digital media photographer, takes photographs of nature to show its raw beauty. One image in particular was a still-shot from a series of birds that she put in a grid with an addition of pixels to enhance the digital elements while maintaining a brush-stroked appearance.
“They’re very painterly,” said Schmidt of her work. “And I think it’s another thing about visual literacy. There’s so much visual media coming towards us…”
Photographs that look exactly like paintings when stilled. Wings looked like the bodies, some bodies looked like the wings, and Schmidt’s photograph stood out.
Kinetic artist Joseph Morris and steel welder Martha Walker’s showings of sculpting were also eye-catching.
Morris, being a huge fan of motion, created machines that performed simple movements such as turning a wheel, pushing and pulling a nail before it falls; all with the help of a little electricity and a small plank of wood. No hands Ma! Morris also constructed two simple skeletons with pieces made from real dog bones and flexanol, otherwise known as muscle wire. Using a microprocessor to control the movement, sections of wire short electricity to the creature when heated; making it to move.
Martha Walker, is a sculptor who has made her mark in the art world over a 10-year-period by taking steel rods, heats, and bends them into different shapes. Reminiscent of the symbiote from Spider-Man, Walker melts metal into things like octopuses. One of her works called Dance of the Spirits will be on Gossip Girl for four episodes in the upcoming season. Tikkun Olam (Heal The World in Hebrew) is another piece that Walker made, and it’s the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. With a shape similar to Cinderella’s carriage, Tikkun Olam is a piece that Walker hopes to use as an avenue to convey the powerful saying.[caption id="attachment_5098" align="alignright" width="452" caption="Walker sitting inside of Tikkun Olam."][/caption]
“I named it that so people could sit here, and think about making the world a better place,” said Walker.
There were also other exhibits of ceramics, glass, collage, and works on canvas present at different studios.
The Annual Gowanus Artists Studio Tour is an event that comes around every October, confirming that art can truly be anything. Even the author of this article took a picture of some garbage with maps of the tour while touring the studios.
Because it looked beautiful.[caption id="attachment_5106" align="aligncenter" width="452" caption="I have artistic creativity too!"][/caption]
A perfect addition to the Lower East Side, Gallery Bar is a bar that accommodates lovers of art and nightlife. It combines visual experience with a party atmosphere, with its spacious showroom and welcoming ambiance. By day, it is a gallery exhibiting works by contemporary artists on its walls. By night, it turns into a lounge on the main floor, bringing in up to 150 people on a weekend night. The atmosphere is dimly lit, dressed with leather couches, weathered wooden tables and lots of candles. On the bottom floor, there’s a seperate bar that’s ideal for private parties and reserving tables. The scene is upbeat, there’s a DJ that plays mostly hip hop inspired tunes. The main floor is equipped with a photo booth in the back next to the DJ, serving for great fun while having a few
Where: 120 Orchard St.
Best Nights: Thursday and Saturday
Downfall: Crowded (If you see that as a problem)
Can wait in line, if filled to capacity
Watch out: You can’t find it easily; the sign in the front isn’t visible!