When we started this blog, it was a rather impulsive decision. We thought it would be a fun way to catalog our memories, while sharing the things we love about New York City. It’s our third year covering the incredible murals at the Bushwick Collective, but it’s the first time we felt a tangible passing of time. Like pencil marks on a door jamb, our blog posts have become gentle reminders of years gone by. So how did this year compare to the rest?
Here’s the bad news: 2019 was kind of disappointing. Many of the murals from our prior visits had been tagged over. And for some reason, the available walls–begging for fresh paint–had not been assigned to new artists. But here’s the good news: there were still many cool murals and graffiti artists to discover. Here’s a roundup of our favorites, along with a map of where to find them.
The Bushwick Collective Block Party is a party with a capital P. The live performances take place at Troutman St and Scott Ave, and the walls directly around the performance space are prime real estate. Let’s start there.
Deconstructed Biggie by Ruben Ubiera
Ruben Ubiera, who uses the tag @urbanruben on his murals, was born in the Dominican Republic. He credits his move to the Bronx at the age of fifteen with exposing him to the world of graffiti. It’s been an influence on his work ever since, whether he’s working on murals or mixed-media pieces. Last year’s pitbull piece was one of the season’s biggest hits, but this year Ubiera took on a much beloved subject already well represented in Bushwick: Biggie Smalls. But this version, called Deconstructed Biggie, is unlike any other. With surgical precision, Ubiera sliced the rapper into little pieces. Using a black & white palette with yellow accents, Ubiera took a classic image and created something completely fresh.
Urban Flora by Natasha May Platt
Natasha May Platt has been gracing New York City with her colorful blooms for a while. She’s done a number of large-scale works, but one of her most popular projects is her wall for retailer Yumi Kim in the Lower East Side. Instagrammed by countless fashion influencers, the floral designs change with each season but her @surfaceofbeauty tag remains a permanent feature. Unlike many of the other street artists represented at the Bushwick Collective, Platt paints with a brush. She does it freehand, and oftentimes without even a sketch. Her pink flowers against the deep green background are sure to bring the Instagrammers out in droves.
Adam Fujita is an established street artist who’s known for his provocative messages in neon lettering, and his collaboration with Platt from earlier this year was a match made in heaven. Fu’s glowing heart encapsulates her blooms perfectly. It was one of our favorite 2019 Bushwick Collective murals. (@adamfu and @surfaceofbeauty also paired up for some epic pieces in Downtown LA for the Good Trouble television series.)
Big Ears by Sipros Naberezny
There are many artists with distinctive styles, but we challenge you to find anyone whose signature is…big ears. But thanks to that unique signature, anyone who’s ever seen a @sipros_sipros mural will instantly be able to recall it. The Brazilian artist has been a Bushwick Collective mainstay (and one of our favorites!) for years, and he’s back this year with a big-eared child gleefully trapped inside a claw machine. Because it’s filled with…donuts. We, and Homer Simpson, approve.
Kid Eating Potato Chip by Rosk and Loste
On the opposite side of Troutman St, the portrait of a child eating a potato chip is so incredibly flawless that it’s impossible to imagine it was spray painted in a matter of days. From the nuanced light bouncing off the skin to the full head of hair, each detail is impeccable. The Italian duo of Rosk and Loste were new to us, but it didn’t surprise us to learn that they received formal training from the Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo. We quickly fell in love with the lifelike portraits we found on their @roskloste profile.
Pieter by Michel Velt
When it comes to portraits, a name that street art enthusiasts instantly recognize is Michel Velt. Velt hails from the Netherlands, but his stunning portraits show up in Barcelona, Yogyakarta, and many other cities around the world. @michelvelt portraits often feature real people, and his models are typically named.
We’ve captured several of his murals over the years, including the recurring ones for Bushwick Collective. In fact, we liked his 2017 portrait of dancer Elisha so much that we used it as the feature photo in our post. We also featured it on our Instagram feed and it ended up being one of our most widely reshared posts. This year’s portrait is that of Pieter, who Velt met three years ago at a small commune in Groningen.
My Body My Choice by Lexi Bella
Street art is a form of personal expression, and Brooklyn-based Lexi Bella’s message couldn’t be more loud and clear. Addressing the explosive issue of the right to legal abortion, the mural is a departure from her usual pop culture subjects. (She was behind the Cardi B Mona Lisa mural last year). A tattoo on the middle finger reads “My Body My Choice” while the nail art features a crossed-out wire hanger, the symbol widely used by the pro-choice movement. When addressing the piece on @lexibellaart, the artist issues a call to arms to defend women’s reproductive rights.
Boug the Bulldog by Patrick Kane McGregor
Animals are often the subjects of beloved murals, and the one by Patrick Kane McGregor is no exception. The Denver artist favors using dogs in his murals, so much so that he uses the term “walldogging” to describe his craft. He’s featured many breeds, but his bulldog Boug is his favorite model by far. Boug passed along several years ago, and McGregor continues to memorialize his pooch through his art. You can find photos of Boug if you scroll far enough back on @patrickkanemcgregor’s feed.
Besides these great pieces we stumbled upon a few new favorites:
There was a street fair setting up along Jefferson on the day we were out in Bushwick, but the eye mural by Cody James still managed to cut through the noise. James uses the tag @johnnyflid.
And we were completely enamored by the odd creatures created by Ian Cinco. He’s in another universe, and we want to be part of it. We ran into him while he was working on another piece, check it out at @ian_cinco.
Let’s wrap it up
So head out to Bushwick. Stroll around. There is literally street art everywhere.
Maybe strike a pose or two.
Every time we visit the Bushwick Collective, we take away something new. And we leave a piece of us behind.