New York Love: SNOEMAN @ N.53 Gallery, East Hampton, NY
New York Love is an exhibition of new paintings inspired by my love for New York City. The work highlights the small details of everyday life that I treasure and find beautiful. I’ve always been inspired by bodegas and other storefronts and have admired the overload of signage, imagery, and bright lights. It’s all eye-catching. Bodegas are little microcosms and there are often several on every block. They are an essential part of every neighborhood in the city.
I’ve been an artist all my life and a graffiti artist working with spray paint for more than twenty years. I had worked on many large-scale murals before but in 2014 I painted my first significant bodega-related piece: a life size bodega in Chinatown, alongside the “Greetings Tour” CHINATOWN mural. I followed this with a series of illustrations on paper of bodegas and other New York City themes.
In the summer of 2019 I created a pop-up installation at Beyond the Streets NYC inspired by New York City street vendors. The installation was a realistic set up made of folding tables, 10 x 10 ‘ canopy tent, tapestries, beach chairs, milk crates, plants and model trains next a 10’ tall hand painted mural. My original paintings, prints, custom airbrushed and screen-printed T- shirts, hand painted sneakers and custom embroidered hats were for sale. Throughout the four days the pop- up installation featured guest artists and a live DJ.
I started making protest posters during the summer of 2020 on my rooftop and eventually teamed up with the incredible artist Maya Hayuk to make them in mass quantities. Each sign was hand painted and double sided. We painted them on the roof of her studio in Brooklyn and threw them down to whoever came to pick them up. We made hundreds if not thousands of posters during that summer.
In January 2021 I got an artist’s residency in a vacant school building in Harlem. I had a full size classroom as a studio. Prior to that I had been working either outdoors or in my apartment studio. I wanted to make use of the opportunity of the huge space to create some large pieces. I started experimenting with new techniques that I had wanted to try for a long time. I used brushes, paint sticks and spray paint. I added texture and loose line work which was a different technique from the cleaner, tighter illustrations I had done previously. All the works in this show were made between January and May in that studio space.
During March 2021 I also began applying hand painted posters with messages like “spread love” and “do the right thing” to bodegas and storefronts throughout the city. The handmade posters took my longstanding connection to the storefronts to another level and brought everything full circle. My art is fully inspired by these stores that are part of my everyday life. I bring that inspiration back to my studio, and let it out on canvas. Now with these posters, I get to express another aspect of my art with colorful, graffiti inspired, positive messages. I bring those out of the studio, and apply them to the storefronts that inspire me. I hope they inspire anyone who sees them. They are for everyone. —Snoeman
New York Love is on view at N.53 Gallery, East Hampton, NY through June 28, 2020.