Street art is everywhere in Brooklyn and in Manhattan too. But to make sure we saw some of the best we decided to take part in the Brooklyn Unplugged Grafitti and Street Art Walking Tour in Brooklyn. This experience was gifted to me by icelolly.com and it was a great way to learn more about the Bushwick Collective and the artists that contribute to it every year.
What is the Bushwick Collective?
The Bushwick Collective was set up by a man called Joseph Ficalora back in 2012. Joseph’s aim for the collective was to provide a space for artists to both beautify the local area, whilst also being personally therapeutic too, as he has just lost his mother and found huge comfort in art. The murals in Bushwick are only temporary and are replaced every 12 months, so if you’ve not seen these pieces on a past trip or a future one, that will be why.
What did we see?
In simple terms, we saw a lot. So I’ve picked some of my favourite pieces from both new and familiar artists to share with you. After a quick tea stop at the Wyckoff-Starr the tour began, across the road, with a brief history of the Bushwick Collective.
One of the first pieces we were shown were these cat sculptures by New York artist Strayones. These life-sized steel wire cats were made to interact, in an organic way, with the urban environment. You’ll find them chasing mice, climbing or interacting with other cats too. As with any outside art the sculptures do become damaged and weathered by the elements, so you may notice colour differences between the newer and older cats. They’re quiet hard to spot in places but do keep your eyes peeled when walking around the area.
As soon as I saw the above piece of work I instantly recognised it as a Louis Masai piece. I’ve seen a number of his pieces of work scattered around London and also Taunton (Somerset) and once you know his patchwork style of street art it’s easy to spot another piece of his work, whatever part of the world you’re in.
Louis’ artwork is geared towards raising awareness of endangered species and this piece is no different. It was painted during Louis’ The Art of Beeing project, where he painted 20 murals of species that were under threat in twelve cities across nine states of the USA. He did this in just two months. This New England Cottontail Rabbit was the first piece he painted on his tour and it was also accompanied by a bee. You can find out more about the project here.
Stik was another artist I recognised after having seen his work around London. This was a little harder to spot as your eyes were drawn towards the colourful collection of street art decorating the building below. One piece by artist Danielle Mastrion gained a lot of attention from the group. This was the piece painted of Biggie Smalls, which we were told would not be replaced as long as the Bushwick Collective owned the right to paint that wall.
Some of the coolest and more unusual pieces of street art we saw were painted by an artist called Sipros Naberezny. We saw a few examples of his work whilst exploring Bushwick but this was my favourite. The children in his images are always painted as superheroes with the tell tale superhero mask and always look fairly realistic. But Sipros always distorts the paintings slightly and gives the children larger than usual ears.
The above two pieces have affectionately been named as the Kids Corner section of the Bushwick Collective. Both pieces were created by young children wanting to practise their art and get involved in the collective. Lola the Illustrator started when she was just seven years old. Her and her mum decided to begin painting (without technically asking for permission first) and that’s where her journey began. Lola is now nine and the above street art piece named ‘Splatter Void’ is her third mural. Lola has since inspired Sophie an eight year old artist who is also a member of the Bushwick Collective.
One of the final pieces we saw was in fact a piece of street art by our guide Caty Wooley. It was located in Stewart Avenue but all the street art on this building are separate from the Bushwick Collective, but just as cool. Caty’s piece took one month on and off to complete and she used jewels and bath resin to portray the theme of communication for her piece. It was fun, bubbly and a little different to the street art we had seen earlier in the day and a great way to end the tour.
There is so much street art to see that sits as part of the Bushwick Collective and the above were just a small sample of that. Let me know if you had any favourites that weren’t featured in the blog, I’d love to hear more! Just leave a comment below.
Until next time.