“Graffiti Keeps Me Clean”
FREE Tours by Foot: The Bushwick Collective
Content and images by: Caressa Losier
Bushwick – a section in Brooklyn whose name is an English derivative of the Dutch word “Boswijck”, meaning little town in the woods, is a playground of lively art. Eager graffiti writers have tagged the walls, street signs, railings and a fusion of ambitious street artists play do-si-do with what’s left of blank spaces to paint murals on subway station corners, storefronts, or any other area in town that can double as a public canvas. Several Bushwick street art pieces among the hustle and bustle of art in the community are a part of The Bushwick Collective, a major street art organization in the area making this artistic movement all possible.
Polypasting is the art of adhering artwork created from a glossy, weather-resistant polyurethane material onto a surface. This modern-day technique has many benefits for street artists – its unique material makes it more difficult to remove from spaces than spray paint and makes it harder for other artists to paint over.
In a community of so many creative artists with big visions sharing one cramped space, it is natural for artistic collaborations to happen in the Bushwick street art scene. Islands of color, collages of different styles and textures all merge together to become the city’s landscape. For some street artists, these collaborations are intentional. For others, the fear of a masterpiece getting buried beneath another artist’s work is real. Then there are others, who combat the uncertainty of space by coexisting with other works in confined spaces. This is called force collaboration and it usually occurs when an artist attempts to cover over another artist’s body of work. Due to limited space, many Bushwick street art spaces are the result of a forced collaboration.
Wildstyle is a unique graffiti writing style that is used as an artistic signature. The term was coined by historic New York City graffiti writer, Tracy 168 – one of the founding fathers of graffiti. As wildstyle grew, it also became a term used to describe the culture, lifestyle and identity of street art. Given Bushwick street art resides in the birthplace of Hip Hop culture, wildstyle is one of the most familiar techniques that many NYC artists still use today.
Click here to view the Style Wars documentary review! This is the beginning of Bushwick street art.
Remember the famous cameo Campbell’s Soup first made in Andy Warhol’s 1968 game-changer, 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans? Or that moment he teamed up with Jean-Michel Basquiat to create Paramount, featuring a large, red Paramount Pictures logo in the center of it all? Following these famous works, several other artists have adopted the style of pop art – an art movement from the 1950s that incorporates elements of pop culture. These elements can literally be anything, from celebrities to movies, or even popular brands and logos. Some of the best murals and pieces during the Bushwick street art tour were those that incorporated pop art.
Making a Statement
Art is always easy on the eyes, but at times, some of its messages can also be hard to swallow. Political street art addresses political issues with critiques that are expressed creatively through an opinionated lens. Whether it’s a brick wall wearing a painted pile of feces resembling Donald Trump, or an important message that informs the public, this form of art never fails to make a statement, especially in the Bushwick street art community.
Culture and Tradition
Bushwick street art has a culture of its own, especially because it’s an area with a large community of artists contributing to a melting pot of culture, interests and ways of life. This is what makes street art from Bushwick this so special. Just one walk down the street bombards you with murals, stickers, graffiti tags, and so on. With gentrification on the rise, Bushwick street art also allows newcomers a small glimpse of what life might have been like in this community, beforehand.
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