YUEI: Street Art

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

There have been a few recent submissions (1, 2, 3, 4) to the Uncommon Economic Indicators project highlighting economic-themed graffiti and street art. Marc Schiller and Sarah Schiller, founders of the Wooster Collective, a website dedicated to showcasing street art from around the world, discuss the role of public art (or is it vandalism?) is playing in the current economic climate. Are you seeing more street art/graffiti? What's your favorite piece of street art? Is there even such a thing as street art or is it all vandalism to you? Comment below!


Marc Schiller and Sarah Schiller

Comments [49]

Jake J from Bronx, NY

It's all relative! The anticipated reactions, ranging from admiration to outrage are all part of the art experience. Indeed, the authoritarian view that graffiti is merely vandalism almost guarantees its recurrence.

Much more here (

Apr. 18 2009 12:21 AM
Charlene from NYC

A street art inspired gallery show is opening at the Kevin Barry Gallery at 25 Victory Blvd in Staten Island on Thursday April 16, 2009 from 6p-9p. The gallery is located 1/2 block from the Ferry Landing so it is very close to Manhattan.
Read more here:

Apr. 09 2009 04:18 PM

Street art is the last remnants of the heart and soul of the city. Dear to my heart.

Apr. 08 2009 06:46 PM
john from ny

I have been seeing those enjoy banking and enjoy subprime lending stickers all around manhattan and brooklyn. I enjoy the humor and look forward to see more stickers being put up.

Apr. 08 2009 05:40 PM
patrik from SoHo

I have been seeing the Enjoy..... stickers and poster. Really interesting how many different slogans there are. I have seen Enjoy Stimulus Package, Enjoy Subprime Lending and Enjoy Bailout Package.


Apr. 08 2009 04:55 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Ahh, excellent point Prince… pointing out my own hypocrisy. Well played; however, I’m not doing anything illegal.
Guess this is the part where I either call your bluff and ask for the address to send the RPD to, I can call or e-mail them on my lunch hour, or where I let it go… Hmm, I’ll let you decide with your next post. Guess they’ll need proof of the crime as well, so may as well post the locations of your latest artful endeavors.
I’ve been checking to see if vandalism is a felony, misdemeanor, or a simple violation of city/county ordinance in Racine… Sadly is only seems to be the latter from what I’ve found. They aren’t very good at posting the penalties involved either.
It’s kind of hard to build a case of a crime from nearly 900 miles away, but I’m sure the producers of the Brian Lehrer Show will be more than helpful when RPD calls them as asks for tapes of the show and phone records. Otherwise they could be seen as complicit since they glorified destruction to private property in the first place.
Maybe you could just make it easy on everyone and go turn yourself in?

Apr. 08 2009 12:55 PM
Prince Parise from Racine, WI

Apr. 08 2009 12:37 PM
Prince Parise from Racine, WI

Prince Parise is my real name, Voter.

Apr. 08 2009 12:21 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

I don’t have all day to look Pjap, but I didn’t see your address, your phone number, your real name, nor your photograph on your MySpace page. Why don’t you post them so we can let the good people down at 730 Center Street come pick you up.

Apr. 08 2009 12:18 PM
Prince Parise from Racine, WI

Come arrest me.

Apr. 08 2009 12:06 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Wooster Collective’s website doesn’t seem to list an address, I guess they don’t want anyone expressing themselves on the property they lease or own. Sounds hypocritical to me. Until you open up your base of operation, neighborhood, and home to vandalism, don’t advocate it on the property of others. And if these so called “artist” were really prepared to suffer or be jailed for their art, they wouldn’t hide behind pseudonyms and cover of darkness…. Hypocrites!

Apr. 08 2009 12:06 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

It's all vandalism and he didn't sound convincing about being willing to go to jail for his art.

Apr. 08 2009 12:00 PM
Axe from Manhattan

Your guests are a complete sham. They should be arrested rather than featured on the air. Come on, do we really want that shit all over the place again? Tell them and their clientele to go get a real job and do the work to become real artists rather than this easy bs these idiots are praising as "free expression". "Humanistic".. Please. Go back to academia. You obviously never left it. There are plenty of ways to get a message across without defacing public property.

Apr. 08 2009 12:00 PM
Rakesh from Brooklyn

I'm usually entertained and sometimes impressed by the street art I see in places like Williamsburg. But I'll always remember this local news piece back in Milwaukee growing up like 15 years ago that showed people complaining about the money they had to spend to repaint their garage after it was tagged. I think street art definitely has its merits, but in NYC, where a lot of us rent, it can be easy to forget how much it sucks to have kids spray paint their tag on your house for no other reason than vanity.

Apr. 08 2009 11:59 AM
Dan of Art MacGuffin

Marc and Sarah Schiller of Wooster Collective are showing amazing things constantly on their website. Their site has introduced me to Invader, Elbow-Toe Graffiti Research Lab and some of the other most inspiring and innovative art I've seen in a long time. Its inspired me personally and in the work i do with Art MacGuffin Arts, another site for art on the web (promoted and inspired by Wooster). We're all sharing this inspiration in the same vein as these artists are sharing their beauty with the world.

Apr. 08 2009 11:59 AM
yourgo from astoria

Street Artists should use chalk to leave behind art on sidewalks or buildings.
it washes away.
that cant be illegal or considered vandalism,.. can it?

Apr. 08 2009 11:58 AM
Leo from Queens

Grafitti is vandalism and is destroying private property. Most of the graffiti in the City is gang related. I believe that the penalties are too tough especially when government authorities do not prosecute or investigate fraud and money laundering.

There is a place for things - and though Graffiti may be a form of artistic expression it should be done in places for it - NOT on public or private property

Apr. 08 2009 11:58 AM
Gene from Brooklyn

Near the Gowanus Canal on 3rd St. in Brooklyn there is a large painted "banner" on a vacant building that reads "Open your eyes, no more corporate bullshit fuk wall st.

Apr. 08 2009 11:58 AM

I was recently in Valparaiso, Chile and was overwhelmed by the beauty of their street art. It worked with the city and buildings, instead of in anger against them. It was imaginative and inspiring and displayed such an impressive level of skill. I couldn't help but wonder if New York would ever be able to allow such pieces. Maybe if the owners of the buildings/property permit it?

Apr. 08 2009 11:58 AM
Katherine Folk-Sullivan from Brooklyn

Tricia Rose, a professor at Brown, connects the rise of graffiti (and rap) in the late 70s to cuts in arts funding to public schools. Do your guests see a connection between graffiti and the lack of sanctioned artistic venues for young people?

Apr. 08 2009 11:57 AM
Frank from NY NY

I'm about to paint the fire alarm box on my street - afraid it will disappear one day - not grafatti -but none the less

Apr. 08 2009 11:56 AM
Frank from NY NY

I'm about to paint the fire alarm box on my street - afraid it will disappear one day - not grafatti -but none the less

Apr. 08 2009 11:56 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

But advertising (billboards) are sold by the owner of the property, whereas grafitti is done on someone else's property.

I hate being bombarded by commercialism everywhere, for example in elevators, but that is not an excuse to justify the illegal appropriation of someone else's property.

And I definitely don't want to see a return of grafitti defacings all over the city, with their whining apologists and their spurious arguments.

Apr. 08 2009 11:56 AM
Nico from Crown Heights

Thanks for the tip, Allison. I'll spread the word!

Apr. 08 2009 11:56 AM
Todd from Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Levitucus' work is contrived and boring.

Ellis G. in the house!! His shadow work is sick and completely original.

Apr. 08 2009 11:55 AM
John Hahn from Glen Rock NJ

Not Street art per se
But the 14th Street A train Uptown platform is incredible.
A great use of metal.

It was a surprise. But a delight. I will go back and take it all in.

Apr. 08 2009 11:54 AM
Dinu from NYC

Glamorizing "street art" is no different than glamorizing any other crime which, by the way, is also ephemeral.

Apr. 08 2009 11:54 AM
dan from brooklyn

i'm 100% for street art but here's my dilemma. does street art speak to all of the city, or has it become a pass time of the liberal art crowd? i feel like a lot of the context is lost on the truly disenfranchised.

Apr. 08 2009 11:54 AM
Born in DC from NYC

All I see are first time gang tags in my upper east side neighborhood. Could you comment?

Apr. 08 2009 11:54 AM
Milton from queens

Im glad you have something to say.. Just stop saying it on the side of my van

Apr. 08 2009 11:54 AM
slim from Williamsburg

My all time favorite is the "You Go Girl" artist.

It makes me happy whenever I see it. It makes me go, girl.

Apr. 08 2009 11:53 AM

One of your guests said that because street art is ephemeral, it is personal. Could he explain? Why is it more personal than other art simply because it won't last as long?

Apr. 08 2009 11:53 AM
Adrienne from Manhattan

I saw a sign posted on a pole in the East Village that said "Will take abuse for $$$" Good grief! Has unemployment come to this?

Apr. 08 2009 11:53 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

And on the “vandalism for hire” argument… the creator of the ad and the surface on which it is placed is an agreed upon arrangement, not one person defacing another’s property for their own satisfaction. Post where these people live so listeners can go make “art”

Apr. 08 2009 11:53 AM
Amber from Brooklyn


Metropolitan Ave in WIlliamsburg:

Apr. 08 2009 11:53 AM
james from brooklyn

mural was commissioned by the buildings owner

Apr. 08 2009 11:53 AM
Paulo from Paterson, NJ

I was in Rio last year and I was shocked by the street art there. It's absolutely wonderful. It's both beautiful and edgy, which I don't see nearly as much of here. Much of it clearly took quite some time to design and apply to the surface.

Apr. 08 2009 11:53 AM
Richard Karnatz from Texarkana, TX (post katrina)

Eat the rich. Better got them young before they build up Botox.

Apr. 08 2009 11:52 AM
Robert from NYC

90% of the grafitti I see are mindless gang or pseudo-gang tags, artless scratchitti or glass etching fluid flung randomly. It would be nice if all grafitti were "street art," but it's not.

Apr. 08 2009 11:52 AM
Scott from Astoria

A different type of Golden Egg for the Easter season...

Sculpture of Golden BullSh*t placed under the bronze Charging Bull by Wall Street.

Whatever your take on the current financial situation, I think we can agree with the sentiment of this "golden calf."

Apr. 08 2009 11:51 AM
dgsbdy from Bronx

I invite all of those who idealize this "art" to come and scrub my front wall.

Apr. 08 2009 11:51 AM
Jessica Kessler from Park Slope

I found police style yellow tape down the street from us in South Slope that said "Gentrification is progress" tied up in front of a new empty condo building. I have bad news for the artist. Gentrification achieved.

Apr. 08 2009 11:51 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

The term “art” is subjective. Encouraging more people to “express” themselves on the fabric of the city will lead back to the New York of the 70s. Hopefully no one’s artful expression involves face slashing. Hey, it’s performance art and goes back to NYCs rougher days.
Destruction is destruction whether it’s on a wall or an innocent person’s face. Odd WNYC doesn’t feel the same way.

Apr. 08 2009 11:51 AM
nick from NYC

Your guest said that artists "don't have access to mass media" - but, what about the internet? Can you ask them?

I'm sympathetic to street art, but, for every Banksy you've got 1000 talentless scrawlers...

Apr. 08 2009 11:50 AM
Ivey from Brooklyn

When something so powerful as this new economy effects everyone, it means that we can all relate. Now, graffiti can mean something to everyone more so then before, because it effects us all, perhaps differently but the same.

Apr. 08 2009 11:50 AM
Allison from Brooklyn

Factory Fresh and Plaztik Magazine!

Apr. 08 2009 11:49 AM
Allison from Brooklyn

A few of my artist friends and I are involved in a gallery show at Brooklyn's FACTORY FRESH GALLERY opening on May 1st.
The show is called BOXED IN, which is a group show of street artists creating cardboard box homes -- a commentary on housing/economic meltdown.
There will also be corresponding wall pieces with the sculptures. This show is current and important, especially since a gallery is dedicating space to it, off the streets for the moment!

Apr. 08 2009 11:43 AM
patrick from yonkers/ny

not much street art up here in the country ;) of yonkers.

is street art vandalism? i guess it is the old pornography debate... i know 'vandalism/art' when i see it.

some of my favorite work is text based and simple, easy to read and makes me laugh. my wife loves the intricate character based works though.

*wooster collective is amazing, more shows like this!

Apr. 08 2009 10:25 AM
Sue from LIC, NY

Wonderful or vandalism. Expression or destruction. Participation or defacement. My favorite ever was the message sprayed on a grocery store wall in east village years ago: 'sacrifice the yuppies and drink their blood.' Any who built minute clay rooms in the spaces left by missing bricks in walls on 4th Avenue. Not much of that to be found out here in Astoria...but we do have Socrates Park.

Apr. 08 2009 08:55 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.