Burst of Colors in NYC


New York City gives me a sensation that I can only explain as the prickly feeling you get when someone is about to tell you something. You’re ready to receive the message, excited because something tells you it will be a good one.

When I arrived early on a Thursday morning, my body had no trouble adjusting to the jet lag. It also didn’t struggle with weaving itself through subways crowds or streets full of pedestrians. The only challenge: the glorious yet tiring heat.

Luckily I had a couple of sightings to keep my mind off getting lost in the muggy streets while hauling my luggage. During a stroll on the High Line with a delicious People’s Pops popsicle in hand (Strawberry Basil), I came upon this piece.

The bold style and signature tipped me off right away: it’s a piece by Eduardo Kobra, a Brazilian street artist. The mural makes its way into your field of vision when you walk the High Line. It’s a rare moment to see street art from higher up than the ground — you can almost envision yourself in the position of the artist himself. Street art, after all, is about height and perspective so seeing it from the ground sometimes doesn’t do the work enough justice.

The patterns on the piece (those tights!) are fantastic and lend a super recognizable aesthetic to Kobra’s work. He’s depicted everyone from Dalí to Einstein is this signature style. It reminds of something between a colorful quilt and an explosion of bright pixels. Covered in these distinct colors, each scene and person seems to take on a different shape.

I continued to my next adventure and my friend pointed out this Roy Lichtenstein piece in the subway station. So while onlookers watched a subway performer I snapped a photo.roylichtenstein_theworldisacanvas

The “Times Square Mural” is six feet tall and 53 feet long; amazingly, Lichtenstein completed it three years before his death. It’s got references to all kinds of cultural history, like the 1939 and 1964 world’s fairs. I am a big fan of Lichtenstein’s work but normally see his pieces at galleries or museums. Seeing one of his pieces in a public space gave it a different sort of magic, especially with a crowd standing underneath it. New York City’s past and present seemed to come together and I felt then and there that the city had a rich history I needed to know more about.

Alas, my trip was only a couple of days. But I walked away with the feeling that I would be back again. And I KNOW there is plenty more street and public art to discover.

Girls Can Do Street Art, Too

Talking about women and art might be a worn subject by now or you might say this is a post oozing with feminism, but it’s interesting to note that most of the time the first names that pop up when talking about street art are those of men. At least that’s what I’ve noticed from talking to people who are only slightly interested in street art and those who are a tad bit more obsessed with the phenomenon.

But that doesn’t mean there AREN’T any women artists out there. Since decades ago, there have been women also going behind the police’s back to post their art. I imagine putting on the same dark outfit, pulling on a hoodie and getting to work.

Back when plenty of guys were posting their art on New York subway trains, Ecuadorian artist Lady Pink decided to join in on the fun. She became such an important figure in street art of the late 70s/early 80s; she was even featured in Wild Style, a much-revered film from 1983 that also features legendary graffiti figures like Lee Quinones and Fab 5 Freddy.

Fast-forward a couple of decades and you’ve got artists like Swoon, who I mentioned in an earlier post and who was in the Museum of Contemporary Art exhibit “Art in the Streets” this past summer. The women’s styles and mediums are completely different – decades after the New York subway train graffiti movement, street art has evolved and it has done so thanks to the help of a few innovative minds, including women artists.

Another artist with her own quirky style is Becca, a street artist who started out in the late ’80s. I found this piece while on a quest to find other pieces.

She was an important street artist in Los Angeles in the ’90s when the street art movement hadn’t really taken off yet. And like any good street artist, she’s got a style that makes her pieces easy to recognize. They’re usually vintage-style figures that remind me of old-school Barbies. She also signs all her pieces with the same lower case b and the same crayon-esque look. Her work has been everywhere from Beverly Hills to Downtown Los Angeles.

All street art pieces have names/signatures near them but if you walk around enough, at least some of the pieces you see are by women, too. Thus, the street/graffiti art is not just for guys. Girls can have their fun, too.

I agree with something Becca told The Dirt Floor in an interview last year and I think it sums up nicely how art, and by inclusion street and graffiti art, is universal.

The question was “Why should people care about art?” to which Becca responded: “Because art can be mind blowing and strengthen your heart.” Truer words have never been spoken.

Sound off in the comments about Becca, women and street art and anything in between!