Lifelong Bushwick resident Joe Ficalora, 35, runs his family’s steel business, and always thought art was “this [bourgeois] rich s–t for museums.”
But after losing his mother to a brain tumor in 2011, a devastated Ficalora threw a neighborhood party the following year to raise money for children with brain tumors, and asked some prominent street artists to paint a few local walls.
This evolved into the Bushwick Collective, Ficalora’s landscape-changing effort to turn Bushwick into a diverse, massive outdoor art gallery. “When I see something I love, and I see how the artists live their lives,” says Ficalora, who refers to himself as an “accidental curator,” “I’m inspired by it.” This is his Bushwick street art New York.
Many artists, like rappers, work under invented monikers. This work was a one-day collaboration between six of them.
“This was like an impromptu hangout — we had food, and people were skateboarding and playing soccer. It was like a family barbecue,” says Ficalora. “Nychos did his [separated skull art] in two hours. The others were still laying out colors, and one of them said, ‘Where’s Nychos?’ And someone else said, ‘He’s giving us time to catch up.’ If you look at The Yok’s work [smoking skull art], look where the spine comes from — the Piña Colada glass. That’s a collaboration. There was no sketch for this — it was start here, start there.”
“Case Maclaim is from Germany, Pixel Pancho from Italy. They were both in town the weekend of the Bushwick Block Party. They talked for five, ten minutes, and one said, ‘I’m gonna do a hand. You wanna do something inside it?’ ‘Sounds good.’ No sketches. They started on Saturday, and next day was the block party. I told them to leave some parts [to do on Sunday], because I wanted them painting live during the party. I wanted people to meet them, get to know them, see that these things don’t just come from a printer and get thrown on a wall.”
“Makatron visited from Australia. When I see this, it’s like a breath of fresh air. Look at the drips inside the fire hydrant — these things pop with water coming out of them. Growing up right here, two blocks away, that’s what it reminds me of — it’s like the end of a summer day.”
“This is ‘Love Conquers All’ — that’s the love hammer, busting through it. Sexer is a great example of diversity and passion. He taught himself how to paint like this. He’s 40-something now, from the Bronx, and he’s been doing it since he was a teenager.”
The artists on this collaboration knew each other solely by reputation. Ficalora introduced them and they had one day in town together — Nychos is from Austria, Smithe from Mexico — so they decided to create this.
“It’s very hard to find people with the same styles,” says Ficalora. “They had never met, never had a sketch — there was no planning behind this. They had always looked forward to meeting each other. I’m grateful that the Bushwick Collective was able to provide that.”
– Larry Getlen
This article originally appeared on http://nypost.com/