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Diva tpa

Bushwick Street Art: Community, Class, Politics and Crochetgate

by Jamie Keeslin

Similarly, Diva of the notable graffiti writing team Vandals in Control notes that it is increasingly difficult for young, untrained graffiti writers and artists to compete in a heavily curated environment. She and Peak, also of VIC, recently put up a wall on Knickerbocker and Melrose. The team was invited by Arts and Rhymes, a Bushwick-based arts advocacy program that supports artists working within hip hop culture. Diva, who is originally from Bushwick and works in both commissioned works and traditional graffiti, says of the increased prominence of street art in the neighborhood, “I think it’s awesome.” Though she observes that the artists currently being invited to make work in the area are often trained artists working with stencils and projectors—a far cry from the simple spray can. “People need to consider this. Not all these young writers can speak as well as Joe [Ficalora from Bushwick Collective].” She also notes that unlike tagging over Bushwick Collective’s murals, “There are repercussions to going over my shit. I can find any writer within two phone calls.” Her ultimate judgement on the tensions between commissioned street artists and their antagonizers: “It comes down to people who are confident and don’t need to destroy other people['s work].”

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Community Artist Project

CAP Artists Announced

Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council is excited to launch Bushwick's first Community Artist Project: Public Art commissioned for Bushwick by Bushwick. RBSCC is proud to contribute to the cultural and creative environments of Bushwick and to continue celebrating our local traditions of Public Art.

The three artists/art collectives that were selected for CAP all have long-term ties to Bushwick and have long celebrated the creative expressions of our community. RBSCC developed CAP as an intentional Community Initiative focused on providing opportunity and support for the longstanding creative Bushwick community. CAP is a unique local opportunity, calling together RBSCC residents, RBSCC staff, our built environment and our creative community, to develop Public Art works which showcase the proud and diverse talents of Bushwick's artists.

CAP Art installation will commence around Bushwick in the early summer of 2015. Mural locations and artists in action can be visited during installation. Bushwick artists who were selected for funding and support from RBSCC through our CAP initiative have developed large scale images that reflect the diverse culture, history and experiences of the Bushwick Community. CAP 2015 Public Art themes include Tenants' Rights/No Buy Outs, an intergenerational day in the park, and traditional Bushwick homes and domestic scenes.


CAP Artists
Arts and Rhymes Collective: Facilitated BY BRIAN "MR. RADIO" CAMACHO
Project site: 424 Melrose Street
Live Painting: 7/25-7/29 


Arts and Rhymes was founded in Bushwick, Brooklyn in 2010. Since its founding, this Artists Collective has made innumerable community connections with various artists of all forms, through hosting community events and showcases. Arts and Rhymes is a collective of creative individuals embracing the elements of art, dance, performance and DJ'ing while focused on creating a local platform dedicated to hip hop culture. Arts and Rhymes has put together a team of photographers, cinematographers, graphic designers, painters, dancers and DJ's that work cooperatively on projects to help each other showcase each individual's talents. In 2012, Arts and Rhymes created a partnership with Burger-It-Up, a popular local restaurant, where Arts and Rhymes hosts creative events every Thursday, bringing together the community through art and music. Arts and Rhymes is also an active speaker for and in the community, encouraging expression and self-identification in today's complex society.


HopsArt of "HopsArt Illustrations" grew up on Troutman Street in Bushwick Brooklyn in the early 80's. At the time Bushwick was changing from a hub for manufacturing, importing and exporting to a poverty stricken community. Drugs and gang violence played a big role in Bushwick at that time. Hops avoided interactions with negative things going on around him. He would be home making art rather than being out in the streets. He bonded with other kids from the block and within his high school who also chose to avoid negative influences by drawing and competing amongst each other in elaborate, time consuming Graffiti Art sketch books. Those Artworks reflected the tones of the Bushwick area and its conditions including the fun entertainment of comic books, cartoons, hip hop culture and popular movies of the 80's era. Throughout his career HopsArt has been commissioned to create portraits, illustrations, public murals, memorials, backdrops, and murals for community centers, restaurants, bars and private rooms. HopsArt majored in Illustration at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. He has supervised crews of teenagers creating over nine community oriented murals. He has also taught mural painting at a charter school. HopsArt currently lives in Brooklyn and collaborates with fellow artists and freelances for anyone who appreciates customized art and effective illustration.

Arts And Rhymes Bushwick open Studios #DashToDine Event 


Story by Max Jaeger as featured in TIMES NEWS WEEKLY
Photos taken by: Crystal Pena

Burger It Up, a relatively new restaurant on the corner of Knickerbocker and Flushing Avenues in Bushwick, displayed paintings and mixed-media collages from three Bushwick natives.

The display was a collaboration— called “Dash to Dine: ‘Modern Gentrification’”— between art collective Arts & Rhymes and artists WaAak STF, Monel and Vato, according to Brian Camacho (aka Mr. Radio), who organized the event.


Camacho said the artists were personal friends that he chose for the event because it was “only right to have Bushwick residents.” Camacho was raised in Williamsburg and now resides in Bushwick as well.


The works explored the tension between Bushwick’s “native” community and the forces of gentrification—capitalism, renovation hungry landlords and the transplant population.

A painting by WaAak depicts a horde of ghoulish green figures clad in plaid shirts and ripped denim jackets marauding through the streets, trampling regular-looking folks. A small girl sits on the sidewalk next to the chalk outline of a body and writes “Your here.. now leave! [sic]”









Other pieces were a little more tongue-in-cheek.


Paintings by Vato repurpose pop culture icons to make a statement about the economic effects gentrification has on local residents—particularly renters. One image shows Snoopy’s signature red dog house with a sign displaying the word “foreclosed” in a street tag font. Another depicts cartoon character Richie Rich smiling behind a lemonade stand. The price of lemonade has been changed from 50 cents to $10.



A third painting shows the Warner Brothers mascot holding a sign that pleads: “Hire a brother.” (Some have accused the mascot of representing blackface and minstrelsy.)

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