We are more than halfway done with 2014, sounds insane doesn’t it? Seems like only yesterday we were dealing with polar vortexes, cat cafes and disappointing Knicks basketball. We still mourn the demise of 5 Pointz, which is set for complete demolition by October. While we may have lost our graffiti and street art monument, other parts of the city have stepped their game up and have given the NYC street art community walls to make their mark. After countless hours looking through photos, and praying that street artists will not go after us for making last minute cuts to the list, we present the 10 best NYC street art murals of the year so far.
10. Giz & Jersey Joe: Tribute to DG
Tribute to DG (LowBrow_BK via Instagram)
One of the most heartbreaking stories to happen in the world of graffiti was the loss of DG. The 47 year old artist was true to his roots, never putting his work in galleries, only placing his iconic tag on the subway tunnels. This mural made by two graffiti writers in Bushwick, filling it with the tag made countless times by the now deceased artist, is in tribute to the work and life of a true old-school graffiti pioneer.
9. Col Wallnuts, Ski, 2ease & Boxer Juntaro: Live From Bedford Stuyvesant
Live from Bedford Stuyvesant (TheCityWanderer via Instagram)
Nothing symbolizes the borough of Brooklyn more than the image of Christopher Lee Wallace a.k.a The Notorious B.I.G. Boxer Juntaro, an illustrator from Japan, continued that sentiment by showing “The Black Frank White” in his colorful and cute animated style. The borough “where one of the greatest MC’s was a local cat” is a collaboration between Juntaro, Col Wallnuts and the duo known as URNY.
8. Maya Hayuk: XXXXXXXXXXX
In the early months of the year, the weather was so bad, we thought that a global warming prevention experiment had gone wrong; causing the entire planet to freeze over and forcing the surviving human race to board an unstoppable, highly powered train (forgive us, we just watched Snowpiercer the other night). OK, so it was not that bad, but it was pretty brutal. However, no matter how low the temperature was, or how blistering the wind, or how pissed off we were that we left our gloves in the overly expensive beer spot filled with bros; whenever we saw Maya Hayuk’s beautiful, colorful wall on the Bowery Mural, we could not help but think about spring.
7. Danielle Mastrion & Lexi Bella: #BringBackOurGirls
Brooklyn street art/mural artists Danielle Mastrion and Lexi Bella are known for painting the faces of some of the most iconic people in NYC culture. From Maya Angelou to Babe Ruth, to Debbie Harry and Derek Jeter, these two talented women have reminded us here in NYC, of the people who made history in the Big Apple. For Welling Court this year, the two ladies joined forces to make a work of art with a powerful political statement. #BringBackOurGirls showed compassion and unity with their fellow women, and was a reminder that this message has, in fact, reached across the world.
Queens’ own Smart Crew made two of these postcard like neighborhood murals in Red Hook and Chinatown. No disrespect to Red Hook, but just the size and detail of the Chinatown piece have made it one of the best we have seen in the city this year. Just the amount of headaches it has caused for the legion of NY instagrammers is something to write about. We have seen many try (including us) to get a perfect shot of the mural. Besides people walking in the shot, you have to worry about traffic, parked cars and boxes blocking your chance for Instagram glory. But for those who luckily got the whole mural un-blocked, they earned the respect and jealously of the IG community.
5. Werc: Shamanic Visions
Werc (W3rc via Instagram)
One of the newest murals to pop up in recent weeks, it is hard not to just lose yourself in the incredible detail that Werc put into this. The symmetry of the mural is incredibly difficult to perform with a spray can, but Werc does it almost effortlessly. The artist has been making the rounds around Brooklyn lately, but this is so far, his crowning achievement.
4. Dasic: Brooklyn Got A Lady Depressed
Made for the Juicy Art Fest in Bushwick, Dasic Fernandez absolutely kills it with this beautiful mural showing a woman of many colors melting into what looks like ice. Among a collection of almost 30 murals around the area, it is Dasic that stands out among them all as one of the best in all of NYC this year.
3. See One: Blue Eagle
Jemal “See One” McClary is an artist/illustrator/cartoonist and designer who constantly brings his A game to Welling Court. It is not that See One does not deliver throughout the year, it is just something about Welling Court, knowing that so many other artists are there putting up work, all trying to stand out; he just goes all in creatively. This year, when we saw his piece, it felt like it was the only piece there. While some artists just lazily made something for Welling Court just to head back to Brooklyn, See One really went in and created one of his best murals to date.
Gulliver 2.0 (Halopigg via Instagram)
There is an interesting story behind this incredible collaboration between the Iranian duo Icy & Sot and Spanish artist Sonni. The original Gulliver was a soldier being tied up by Sonni’s little characters in a strong political statement against war. For some reason, the mural was buffed over not even a day after completion. In response, the trio decided to use the situation to remake the piece; instead of using a soldier in the role of Gulliver, they decided to have a city worker being tied down by the characters. A delightful, funny and strong response to censorship in the NYC street art world.
1. Case Maclaim & Pixel Pancho: Paper Covers Rock
Case Maclaim & Pixel Pancho (Halopigg via Instagram)
The Bushwick Collective has become of of the biggest hotspots for unique graffiti and street art since 5 Pointz shut down. This is not just the best mural we have seen in NYC this year so far, but it is also one of the best pieces of overall art we have seen, period. Collaborating for the first time, these two extremely talented artists, who seem like complete opposites of one another (Case Maclaim, whose work deals with realistic anatomy, and Pixel Pancho whose work features machinery and robots) compliment each other perfectly.
During the Bushwick block party, we saw people stand there, just waiting for the piece to be completed so they can get a shot of it. Usually we look down at people who would go to such lengths for an Instagram photo, but, just look at this piece. We found ourselves frozen seeing this masterpiece come together.
To know how long it took him to come up with the names for some of these pieces, contact the author @TatteredFedora