Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Voice For The People

Street art is so much more than just pretty colors on a wall to decorate the neighborhoods of the affluent and I hope that this has come across throughout my posts. Street art is actually being used in really powerful ways, as it gives those who may not have political or social status a venue to voice their opinion. This platform lends itself for subversive messages; after all, it is a medium created in subversive environments. 
Artists lend their creativity to the community, which is how they voice their discontent on various socio-economic and political topics. You can really take the temperature of a place based on the context of its murals. 

An artist who goes by the name of LUSHSUX has painted what some considered a very scandalous mural of Democratic Presidential nominee Hilary Clinton, dressed in a one piece bathing suit and U.S. Dollars sticking out from under the suit, in stripper-like style. It was deemed so scandalous that the artist was threatened with a council fine by the City of Melbourne. He responded cleverly by painting a niqab to cover her body.

Here is a video of his response to the allegations his mural was indecent. I thought this was an excellent example of the incredible power street art has to bring attention to social and political issues of the moment.  
To quote Banksy: "If graffiti changed anything, it would be illegal.” Street art will remain a vital instrument of protest to bring about social change for communities of people who have no voice.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ladies Who Aren't Afraid to Get Dirty

Yesterday, during the Democratic National Convention, I think that we may have put a crack in the proverbial "glass ceiling" Hillary Clinton was officially nominated as the first woman to win a major party nomination for the presidency. It has taken us a while, but here we finally are. As small and overdue as that crack may be, it gives me a glimmer of hope that gender equality may one day be a reality. The days when strong, outspoken women like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie have anecdotes of systemic gender discrimination that plagued her throughout her life will be long gone. Stories like the one about Claressa Shileds, who during the 2012 Olympics in London won the Gold medal for boxing, will be a thing of the past. Claressa was told that in order to possibly acquire sponsors, she needed to be "less angry," and needed to "stop saying she liked to beat people up." I wonder how well that would have gone over with Muhammad Ali.

So, in keeping with the theme of "I'm a woman, hear me roar," I decided that showcasing some kick-ass ladies in the male dominated world of street art was not only appropriate, but a MUST! 

Alice Pasquini

Alice Mizrachi

A photo posted by Alice Mizrachi (@am_nyc) on

Maya Hayuk

A photo posted by mayahayuk (@mayahayuk) on



These are just some of the ladies making a name for themselves. I hope you enjoy their work as much as I do. Look out for the 8-year-old street artist who goes by the name of Lola. Perhaps our future isn't as dark as it appears!

A photo posted by Alice Pasquini (@alicepasquini) on

Monday, July 25, 2016

Immigration: An Essay

I am mad, mad as hell, and the worst part is, it feels like there is nothing I or anyone can do to stop this.

The campaign of "he who shall remain nameless" came full circle on July 21st as the Republican National Convention came to an end. The comments he made during his nomination acceptance speech were reminiscent of the statements he made last year when he launched his campaign, and announced that all Mexican immigrants are "rapists" and "criminals." 

As he is relentless in delivering his hateful rhetoric that all immigrants are rapists and criminals, I too have an obligation to make anyone who will listen understand that it's simply not true. I can't sit here and produce data in pie charts and graphs, although the data does exist here, and here. All I can do is tell you my personal experience being a daughter of immigrant parents and the stories of those I've encountered along the way.

I came to the United States at the age of two. My parents had green cards and later became United States citizens. I was fortunate to enjoy the privileges that come with having a legal status. However, I know and refuse to be oblivious to the struggles of those Latinx, whose only crime is the pursuit of the "American Dream." The hope of a better life for their families has been the motivating force to leave everything behind in their countries of origin and come to a country that often times is not very welcoming to immigrants, despite America being built on the very foundation of immigration

Every day on my way to drop my daughter off at the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt station in Queens, I drive by a particular street near 74th street and Broadway. Every single day, regardless of the blistering heat or punishing cold, men stand on this corner, as early as dawn, in hopes to be selected to work for the day. 

Liberty Island, NYC 2016 | Picture by Katherine Gomez
These "day laborers," most of Mexican decent, wake up every morning just like you and I do, except we wake up knowing, roughly, what our day will bring. On the other hand, these men wake up with a full day of uncertainty ahead of them. Some will be "fortunate" to be picked up by someone who will undoubtedly pay them well below minimum wage for their labor, and no OSHA regulations for mandated breaks. The working environment may bring its own set of perils and uncertainty, as the conditions are often hazardous and safety regulations are usually not adhered to.

Some will go back home, having waited all day, with nothing to show for; others with only the one meal provided by the charitable work started by Jorge Munoz. A bad day at the office for these men can also mean not coming home at all. By the virtue of standing on this corner, well known by immigration authorities as a congregation spot for undocumented day laborers, they are at risk of being picked up by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), arrested, and most likely, deported. Take into consideration that some of these men may be the sole provider of the household state-side or in their country of origin. The families will unboudtebly be economically affected. All the possibilites of a day at the office are bleak, to say the least.  

Therefore, I urge you that next time you hear that 180,000 undocumented immigrants are roaming the streets to attack unsuspected citizens, please think about the gross generalization of this unfounded statement, concede that perhaps the majority are searching and working hard for the same dreams that you and I have for our families. But most importantly, remember that our nation was built on the premise of welcoming "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free" to our shores. 


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Street art As Social Commentary

Friday, July 15th was a momentous occasion in our home. It felt like the culmination of years of hard work and proving you are worthy of finally being accepted into a very elite club. My boyfriend became a United States Citizen.

The naturalization ceremony and Oath of Allegiance was very emotional, seeing people from so many different nationalities, all dressed in their Sunday best. Some overcome with joy had tears streaming down their face as they recited the oath in front of the judge precising over the ceremony and their loved ones. But on that morning, what really hit us in "the feels" was a mural on our way to 26 Federal Plaza.
Tribeca, NYC 2016 | Photo by Katherine Gomez

As we walked to the building, we encountered, on the corner of Franklin Street and Church Street, a 90-foot installation of a group of kids who looked like they were from a different era. The piece was so impressive, it stopped us dead in our tracks. Luckily, we had some time on our hands before the ceremony started. We sat on the stoop of a restaurant right in front and started researching about the piece. 

The piece turned out to be part of the Unframed: Ellis Island series installation by the French artist JR. The piece depicts the faces of children who arrived at Ellis Island in 1909 after escaping warfare, poverty, and hunger. Those faces staring back at us were no different than us. Their stories over a century ago are no different than the stories we have to tell today; stories of struggle, risk, discrimination, poverty and hard work.

For us, sitting there on that particular day was symbolic. We felt these immigrant children were passing the torch onto us, that now we had achieved the American Dream and were part of the narrative. We somehow had a double obligation; first, to uphold the values and sovereignty of our new nation and homeland, and second, to stand up for those who are currently here pursuing the American Dream and those who have yet to step foot on our shores.

Man can not live on art alone. I am just as passionate about the topic of immigration as I am about street art. Stay tuned as I will be putting together an essay on immigration that I hope you will consider.     

Monday, July 18, 2016

Andres Taborda AKA Caput Cauda Draconis

I am super excited to have met, through a mutual acquaintance, a very talented street artist by the name of Andres Taborda aka Caput Cauda Draconis. He is a Colombian born street artist raised in Queens, NY. He is currently working on a custom handmade laser assisted jewelry line for his own brand Spectradimension. Below is a clip of a promotional video for the launch of his Etsy shop, which features some of the pieces from his collection. 

But before there was jewelry, there were spray cans, concrete walls and some good old vandal nights. 

KG: How did you become interested in street art? And how did you make the jump from admirer to actual producer of street art/graffiti 

AGT: I made the jump the moment we first drove through the streets of Queens the day I got to this country, back in 1992. I was drawn in by all the graffiti and writing on rooftops, mailboxes, light poles, and any other object that made part of that environment. It was a colorful chaos of urban decay and human expression in complete clash. I knew immediately that I was going to be part of that. So, by my first day of school I was already thinking of how I was going to learn and submerge myself in graffiti. 

KG: Have you ever painted vandal?

AGT: Yeah, vandal all the way, not to take away from street art but the rush that comes from bombing or tagging was put in me at a very young age, so it was a rush to go out there late at night and climb rooftops and fences, break into private property or hitting up the subway tunnels, vans, box trucks. You name it, if it was outside we were tagging it. Times have changed and now it's more widely accepted even, I guess this generation grew up with it so now we embrace it. 

KG: How do you describe your style?

AGT: Style... I think it comes from influences of all kinds: cities, objects, artists. Over the years I have managed to be influenced by the places I've lived and the culture that surrounds me. My work has chunks and bits of experiences and trials and errors. I am Influenced by colors and flow. I am also obsessed with surrealism, so I kind of merge some of these feelings and visions to paint.

KG: Where are you focusing your energy today?

AGT: That's the beauty of being an artist, you are always evolving and exploring new things. My biggest passion is taking a white wall (or any lame color) and give it life, a new life. A place where someone might stop and take a picture or just to make your city beautiful and pleasant. So, in that quest, I am expanding my horizons and having fun with installations, because what was a simple wall can become an interactive piece of art. Now you can engage people in a way in which they take part in the piece, so using all your spaces and creating space where there is none and exploring new ideas of interaction is where I want to continue to focus.

KG: Does your work have a message or a meaning? 

AGT: No, my work does not have any deep meanings or offer any transcending value to your life.The message is simple: derp. My art is based of silly characters and moments, where they find themselves in funny situations and just making it fun and exaggerated. I don't expect people to walk away having an opinion about my art or the content of it, but more like an experience because there is so much to look at in my artwork that I don't want your brain to interrupt your eyes.

Thanks to Andres for sharing his work and taking the time to share his experiences. Best of luck on all future endeavors and keep creating beautiful things. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Dump Trump

Chinatown, NYC 2016 || Photo by Katherine Gomez
I will try to keep my loath, hate and contempt for Mr. Donald Dump, I mean Mr. Donald Trump, to myself. But really, don't you think Hanksy captured his essence well? 

Hanksy is an annonymous satirical artist who has managed to combine in his pieces the work of British street artist, Banksy, with the face of famous American actor Tom Hanks. However, for this mural, Hanksy has taken on "The Donald," and it is much more than just paint on the wall. 

Hanksy painted this mural after Trump announced his decision to run for President. The thought of a Trump Presidency scared Hanksy enough to turn his street art mural into activism. Hanksy launched, as he calls it, a "grassroots (bowel) movement" to boycott the now Republican party nominee from becoming the next POTUS. 

The Dump Across America movement showed up with the DOODOOBOYS, as the small army is called, carrying the dump-trump illustration along with the #dumptrump posters in New Hampshire and North Carolina during the primaries, but unfortunately, he won both primaries and here we are today. Most recently, the Dump Across America army has protested outside many of the Trump properties here in NYC, including one of the Trump properties where Donald Trump lives. 

I started wondering, more like wishing, will the DOODOOBOYS and the Dump Across America movement make an appearance at The National Republican Convention this week? So, I took to my favorite blog, Instagrafite to ask the question. Haven't heard back from them, but will update once I do. 

If you need your Dump Across America poster, lawn signs, buttons and such be sure to visit the Dump Across America site.

Typography: A How-To

They say that those who can not do, teach. Well, in my case, I blog
Original Art work by CSG
since I am not an artist. I am merely a lover of all things related to art. I decided to showcase the art of a talented young lady, my daughter. She is currently working on learning typography, which is closely related to the various fonts used in street art. 

Today she will be showing us how to do a simple typography lettering project. Below is a time-lapse video of the finished project and the step by step process.

Note: You can use any wide tip marker. Crayola classic markers are preferred. 


Step 1 : A thick up-stroke starting from the bottom of the left leg of the letter H. The thick line can be made using the flat sides of the marker. This transitions into a thinner down-stroke curve. The thin line can be made using the tip of the marker.

Step 2 : Going from a little below the loop of the left leg, a thin up-stroke then a thicker down-stroke. Now you have your first letter!

Step 3 : Next is the letter E. To start, make a thin up stroke. This will connect your H to your E.

Step 4 : Make a thick loop from the end of your first line. It is okay if the two are disconnected, the thick down-stroke later will fix this. 

Step 5 : Continue the thick down-stroke from the loop you just made. As you finish off the loop, apply less pressure to the marker to get a thinner line. Now you have your letter E.

Step 6: Similar to the letter E, create a thin up-stroke line first to connect letters. 

Step 7 : The letter L is really similar to the letter E in the way it loops. The only difference is the the loop for the L is longer. Since this is the case, you can repeat steps 3 and 4 but with a longer loop. 

 Step 8 : Repeat this a second time for your second L in Hello. 

 Step 9 : The final letter, letter O. Start with a thick down-stroke, applying less pressure as you get to the right side. 

Step 10 : Keep the thin line going until you reach the loop at the top. From the top of the loop, make a thick down stroke and finish off the letter. 

Step 11 : Add details as you'd like. Add a thick line at the bottom as a simple detail too if you'd like. This is the finished piece.

Thanks to my very special guest for doing this awesome how-to project.