Chasing Rainbows at the Bushwick Collective: The Ultimate Street Art Destination in New York City



If you’re a fan of street art, then you’re in luck.  There’s no shortage of it here in New York City, and all you have to do is keep your eyes open.  (Judging by how regularly people bump into me on a sidewalk, this doesn’t seem to be as regular a practice as you might think.)  Thanks to its temporary nature, graffiti is both a literal and figurative fresh coat of paint — blanketing the city with different images, styles and personalities on a regular basis.  

Searching for street art in the city is a fun pastime of ours.  We’re fortunate that New York City attracts worldwide talents who turn our streets and alleys into art galleries.  While there are treasures to be discovered all over the city, fanatics can get a huge payoff by visiting one of the most well-known hubs where street artists go to create and collaborate: the Bushwick Collective.

Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Artist: Chor Boogie
Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Artist: FKDL



Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Artist: Phetus88

Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Bushwick is a neighborhood in Brooklyn that is easily accessible via the L Train.  A trip to Bushwick takes less than a half hour from Union Square, so a quick jaunt from Manhattan is entirely manageable.  It’s open year-round, so all you need to do is dress for the weather and bring a camera.

The Bushwick Collective is a non-profit group founded in 2012 by native Joe Ficalora, who still curates the walls in the area.  It was the natural heir to graffiti mecca 5 Pointz which fell victim to gentrification.  At the Bushwick Collective, artists submit recent work, bios and concepts for review and are awarded precious space for their ideas to come to life.  

Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Artist: Louis Masai
Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Artist: Oji



Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Artists: Joe Iurato and Logan Hicks
Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Artist: Adam Fujita

A broad range of artists are represented at the Bushwick Collective. You’ll find the work of Brazilian artist Sipros and Chilean artist Dasic Fernandez.  You’ll find the distinctive signature of Austrian artist Nychos.  British pop art murals by DFace will catch your eye.  But the walls aren’t simply decorative: many contain social and political messages of our times.  Take, for example, London-based Louis Masai’s “The Art of Beeing” series, which seeks to bring attention to endangered species.  Or consider the work of Adam Fujita AKA AdamFu AKA Atoms, the creative force behind the graffiti podcast My Life in Letters. His pieces are often topical, and have included political issues like national security and impeachment.

Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Artist: Don Rimx



Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Artist: Gustavo Gutti Barrios
Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Artist: Straker

The Bushwick Collective recently held its annual block party, which provides the masses an opportunity to actually see some of the artists at work.  Food trucks line the streets, musical acts take the stage, and there is art at every turn.  It’s a fun event for those interested in a big, lively outdoor party.  (Follow their Facebook page for updates.) But be forewarned: it can get a little rowdy.  If you’re more interested in photographing the art you’re better off coming on a different day, when there aren’t as many people around.

Location:
Troutman St at Saint Nicholas Ave



Pair it with:

For large groups: Tutu’s

Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Roberta’s is Bushwick’s most famous resident and it’s a lovely place, but there’s usually a wait.  Tutu’s is a quaint little place nearby.  Thanks to picnic table seating in the back room, it accommodates large groups nicely.  Tutu’s is the definition of casual dining, with a nice selection of burgers.  Time generally moves more slowly in Bushwick, so don’t expect super speedy service.  On the plus side, that means you won’t feel rushed out the door either.  Settle in and make a night of it.

Location:
25 Bogart St

Hours:
Sun-Thu: 11:00 am -1:00 am
Fri-Sat: 11:00 am – 4:00 am



If there are just a few of you: Arepera Guacuco

Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Bushwick Collective Ultimate Street Art Destination New York City - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

This Venezuelan arepa joint has a bustling open kitchen that appears to work as rhythmically as the loud music blaring over its speakers.  There are a number of creative arepas on the menu, including a vegetarian and vegan option.  The Pabellon, which has shredded beef, cheese, sweet plantains and black beans is sublime.  The Mariscada, a tomato-based seafood stew with an arepa on the side for dipping, is also an excellent choice.  And don’t miss the popular cocada, a delightfully refreshing coconut milkshake.

Location:
44 Irving Ave

Hours:
Mon-Thu: 12:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Fri: 12:00 pm – 11:30 pm
Sat:11:00 am – 11:30 pm
Sun: 11:00 am – 10:30 pm

– L.

 

A Marriage of Tradition and Modernity: Yoshitomo Nara’s Thinker at Pace Gallery



We’re big fans of the Ramones, so we excitedly trekked out to the Queens Museum last year for the Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!: Ramones and the Birth of Punk exhibit.  (That post can be found here.)  As expected, we found a bounty of fantastic memorabilia on display.  But the exhibit also included amazing art from the likes of Sergio Aragones and Shepard Fairey.  In fact, this little gem graced the entrance:

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

The piece was commissioned specifically for the exhibit and featured a familiar character from Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara’s work.  Ramona is named in homage to the band, which the artist is an unabashed fan of.  We became familiar with some of Yoshitomo Nara’s work on a visit to MOCA in Los Angeles many years ago, but only came to learn of this link at the exhibit.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised: the Ramones enjoyed wide success in Japan.  

Yoshitomo Nara is considered part of the Japanese Neo-Pop movement, which combines elements of Japanese culture with the Western influence that flooded the country as it rapidly modernized.  His contemporary, Takashi Murakami (who we’re also fans of) coined the term “Superflat” to describe the aesthetic.  Superflat referred not only to the traditional flatness of Japanese drawing, but to the merger of art and commerce into a single layer.  



Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Yoshitomo Nara has been open about his childhood and being a latchkey kid, and how he was often left to his own devices.  His pieces appear confined in that space and time, a reflection of what a young Japanese boy obsessed with manga and punk music might produce.  His young female subjects accessorize with knives and guitars instead of lace and glitter.



Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

His latest exhibit is now on display at the Pace Gallery in Chelsea.  Thinker takes his work in a slightly different direction.  The childlike figures are still present, but they also take the form of “forest spirits”.  The forest spirits add an otherworldly component to the exhibit.  There is also a collection of jars, which again combines​ the more traditional art of ceramics with his contemporary images and sayings.  Perhaps this how Yoshitomo Nara approaches spirituality as he matures.

Thinker is on display through April 29.

Location:
510 West 25th St

Hours:
Tues-Sat 10 am – 6 pm



Pair it with:

A meal at Harold’s Meat + Three

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Yoshitomo Nara Thinker Pace Gallery - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Chef Harold Moore wanted to offer a staple of Southern cuisine: the “Meat and Three”.  Perhaps the name gives it away, but in these restaurants diners select one meat and three sides.  But Chef Harold grew up in Northern New Jersey and has worked for both Daniel and Jean-Georges.  So what do you get when you marry a traditional staple with elite culinary training?  You get Harold’s Meat and Three, located in the spiffy Arlo Hudson Square Hotel.  

The restaurant achieves its intended juxtaposition.  The space itself is not similar to any New York City eatery.  First of all, it’s really, really big.  There’s lots of elbow room, which means you won’t “accidentally overhear” conversations.  And you won’t find the Hanger Steak and Eggs on any menu in the south.  The entrees are well executed, but the sides can be tricky.  We loved the Coleslaw and Cucumber Salad, but the Grits and the Crushed Cauliflower were excessively buttery.

Location:
2 Renwick St

Hours:
Sun-Thu 7 am – 11 pm
Fri-Sat 7 am – 11:30 pm

– L.

Silence of the Music by OSGEMEOS at Lehmann Maupin



When you arrive at 2nd Avenue and 1st Street in the East Village of New York City, you’re met with a massive yellow figure climbing out of the wall, dressed in a turned-around cap and a track jacket,wielding a boombox.  It’s a tribute to the hip hop culture that heavily influenced the artists, Brazilian twins known artistically as OSGEMEOS.  The mural features one of their signature yellow characters which is meant to be racially neutral (in contrast with having to identify with one of the six preset emoji skin tones offered by WhatsApp), and it’s just one of the thoughtful concepts you’ll find at the duo’s exhibition, Silence of the Music, at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in Chelsea.

Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo are consistently included in group exhibitions featuring street artists, which is how they made their start the 1980s.   Like most other street artists, accessibility was a priority.  But it served a greater need in their home of Sao Paulo where economic disparity, violence, and drug use were common societal ills.  At Silence of the Music, it’s difficult not to find hope and cheer in the pure explosion of color contained within the rooms.

Silence of the Music OSGEMEOS - Mad Hatters NYC

Silence of the Music OSGEMEOS - Mad Hatters NYC

Silence of the Music OSGEMEOS - Mad Hatters NYC

Silence of the Music OSGEMEOS - Mad Hatters NYC

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Silence of the Music OSGEMEOS - Mad Hatters NYC

But the exhibition pays tribute to music in particular.  The intersection of street culture and hip hop, most recently popularized in Netflix’s The Get Down, is a place they seem at home in.  A room with illustrations of dancers and boomboxes feels uniquely theirs.  And the gramophone-turntable-speaker sculpture sitting in front of a collage of 70s iconery is similarly on-brand.  But Silence of the Music is a multi-room exhibition which includes installations that have a more abstract relationship to music.  There’s a room where a sculpture takes center stage, but the walls are painted from floor to ceiling in layers of red, orange and yellow and it seems to simulate the sensation of being engulfed in the warmth of sound.

We commonly hear about people who may see sounds, taste words or associate a color with a number, and it’s all due to a condition called synesthesia.  Well-known artists like Pharrell Williams and Kanye West have admitted to their ability to visualize sound, and visiting Silence of the Music feels like the closest “normals” like you and I might be able to experience it.

The Silence of Music is on display through October 22 at Lehmann Maupin.

Location:
536 West 22nd St

Hours:
Tuesday-Saturday, 10am – 6pm



Pair it with:

Dessert from Seed + Mill

Seed + Mill - Mad Hatters NYC

Seed + Mill - Mad Hatters NYC

Seed + Mill - Mad Hatters NYC

Halva is a common dessert in many countries and the name is derived from the Arabic root word that simply means “sweet”.  Seed + Mill does a great job of contemporizing the traditional dessert for today’s palate, turning halva into tempting cakes in a multitude of creative flavors.  Though they appear dense, they manage to dissolve on your tongue without leaving any trace of heaviness.  The halva here is derived from sesame seeds making it naturally gluten-free, and there are many vegan options available.  We munched on a few pieces and saved some to crumble on our ice cream later.  There is also a goat milk soft serve with halva bits and tahini swirl that many swoon over.  It’s a unique dessert definitely worth maneuvering the Chelsea Market crowds for.

Location:
409 West 15th St

Hours:
Daily 10am – 8pm

– L.

IKON by Nychos at Jonathan LeVine Gallery



Kurt Vonnegut said, “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.”  I believe we all have an innate desire to create — to produce something we can call our own, however big or small — whether we’re painting, baking a cake, taking a photograph, or writing.  Every now and again an artist is able to hone his or her craft to the point of achieving a signature style, one so recognizable that it’s associated instantly with that individual.  Nychos, the Austrian illustrator and urban street artist, is fortunate to be one of those talents.

Nychos is well known and highly respected internationally, with multiple gallery shows and murals already under his belt at the tender age of 34.  He created Rabbit Eye Movement, a collective of international artists, which not only brings its members together but gives them agency and a permanent home in a gallery space in Vienna.  In his documentary “The Deepest Depths of the Burrow”, Nychos cements his commitment and support for the proliferation of art, propelling the motto “Travel to Paint, Paint to Travel” forward.  



Nychos IKON

Nychos IKON

Nychos IKON

Nychos’s personal signature as an artist is that of a “dissection, cross-section, meltdown and translucence”, a unique style which combines his knowledge of anatomy from his childhood hunting experiences with his background as a cartoonist and his continuous growth as a painter.  His latest solo exhibition, IKON, is now on display at Jonathan LeVine Gallery and features familiar images and idols from our past and present in varying degrees of exposure to his signature style.  Fictional heroes mingle with our favorite singers and childhood characters in a morbidly enticing display.  As stated by the gallery:

By dismantling their anatomy he explores the humanity that exists underneath the mask of celebrity and confronts viewers with the core elements we all have in common: flesh and bones.





Nychos IKON

Nychos IKON

Nychos is making the most of his time stateside: he was one of the new artists on the 2016 lineup of Coney Art Walls which debuted alongside the Mermaid Parade this past June.  In addition, Nychos will be creating a large-scale mural in Jersey City.  IKON is on display through July 23.  If you’re planning a trip to the High Line, take a short detour to 20th Street and explore the interesting themes put forth by this thoughtful artist.

Location:
529 West 20th St

Hours:
Tuesday to Saturday, 11am – 6pm



Pair it with:

Brunch at Cookshop

Cookshop NYC

Cookshop NYC

As a husband-wife team, we have great respect for other husband-wife teams who do it well, because we know how challenging it can be!  Vicki Freeman and Marc Meyer are the power couple behind Cookshop, as well as the other established eateries Hundred Acres, Vic’s, and Rosie’s.  Cookshop opened in 2005 and was one of the early players in the sustainable dining game.  Over ten years later, their weekend brunch still draws a crowd made up of a mixture of loyal local patrons and excited out-of-towners.  Now that summer has rolled around, many are hoping to get a seat on the sidewalk with a view of the High Line, which is pretty close to heaven on a warm, sunny day.  The commitment to serving seasonal fare keeps things fresh, and solid staples like frittatas and pancakes — executed to perfection, of course — will please even the fussiest diners.  

Location:
156 10th Ave

Hours:
Monday to Friday:
Breakfast:  8:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Lunch:  11:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Dinner:  5:30 PM – 11:30 PM
Saturday:
Brunch:  10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Dinner:  5:30 PM – 11:30 PM
Sunday:
Brunch: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Dinner: 5:30 PM – 10:00 PM

– L.

Ibrahim El-Salahi: Alhambra at Salon 94



As we’ve established in previous posts, and will likely continue to demonstrate in the future, New York City is home to a staggering number of museums and cultural institutions, and they offer a virtually limitless number of exhibits and installations to appreciate.  While Chelsea has long been the heart of the city’s art scene, art publications like ArtNews and Artsy have been covering the migration of many art galleries to the Lower East Side now that the High Line and the Whitney Museum have ushered in exponential growth, and therefore, rising rents in Chelsea.  

Ibrahim El-Salahi Alhambra

Ibrahim El-Salahi Alhambra

We recently had the incredible pleasure of viewing Sudanese artist Ibrahim El-Salahi’s exhibition, Alhambra, in an extremely intimate setting at one such Lower East Side gallery, Salon 94 on Bowery.  El-Salahi, the seminal African and Arab Modernist master, pioneered an eclectic style incorporating Islamic, African, Arab and Western artistic techniques and traditions. His visually stunning artwork in this exhibit — the centerpiece of which is 2012’s Flamenco Dancers, with its graceful figures rendered in pen and ink — perfectly captures the sounds and movements of the traditional Andalusian music, dance and culture as well as the majestic palette of it namesake, the medieval fortress and palace in Granada, Spain, that inspired him during an extended stay in 2009. In addition, the exhibit includes a fascinating series of 46 drawings, The Arab Spring Notebook, depicting the democratic uprisings in 2010 and 2011.  The Tate Modern in London held an exhibition of El-Salahi’s work in 2013 and described it as follows: “The mask-like faces and earth tones of his early graphic works channel elements of Cubism and Surrealism and incorporate Muslim iconography. El Salahi’s art encompasses and explores a range of compositional forms, including fragments of Arabic calligraphy, but perpetually evokes a transnational, African-influenced surrealism.”

Ibrahim El-Salahi Alhambra

Ibrahim El-Salahi Alhambra

Ibrahim El-Salahi Alhambra

Alhambra is on display through April 23, 2016, but hop over to LES Galleries NYC where you’ll find a list of art galleries and current exhibitions in the Lower East Side — pick a few that catch your eye, and curate a fun gallery walk.

Location:
243 Bowery

Hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 11:00am – 6:00pm



Pair it with:

Brunch at Seamore’s

Seamore's NYC

Seamore's NYC

Seamore's NYC

Located in a gorgeous building in Little Italy, Seamore’s is a space with a beachy, laid-back vibe.  The crew that brought us The Meatball Shop is behind this sustainable seafood venture.  On a sunny day the light streams in, the sidewalk seats get snapped up, and you’re transported to a California cantina.  We popped by for brunch and figured luck was on our side when they were able to seat us immediately.  But even though we got there in time to beat the rush, our experience was plagued by some service mishaps.  The food had interesting flavors, and we’re big fans of fresh seafood, so perhaps we’ll make our way back here for a reassessment sometime soon.

Location:
390 Broome St

Hours:
Daily
Sunday & Monday 11:30AM – 11:00PM
Tuesday to Saturday 11:30AM – 12AM
Brunch
Saturday & Sunday 11:30AM – 4:00PM

– J. & L.