Graffiti is all around us…

As I reported earlier this semester, graffiti is one of the most controversial forms of modern “art.” It’s rampant in large cities such as New York. While at one point in time graffiti seemed like a strong indicator that the neighborhood was going down hill, now many don’t seem to mind it at all.

Though graffiti has historically been known as vandalism, there have been massive movements in the last 10 years to remove the stigma of this urban art form. Websites such as 12ozProphet have spawned from the graffiti movement in celebration and support of the art form.

Due to the overwhelming interest in graffiti, a company called Graffiti Tours has popped up, offering paying customers a walking tour of various neighborhoods in New York City, like as SOHO, that have been both the inspiration and the canvas for graffiti artists like as BANKSY, COST, and REV. And, if you can’t make one of their tours, they offer self-guided tour maps for just $5.

There are also websites devoted to graffiti writing instruction in various graffiti styles because graffiti is like its own language. Graffiti artists use codes when they tag and, like any language, you can decipher the meaning of the message if you pay close attention to the details.

Man’s interest in leaving a memorial of their existence during a specific time and at a specific place date back to 30,000 BC in the form of prehistoric cave paintings. Lovers carve their initials in the trunks of trees and passers-by write their names in wet cement on city streets all in an effort to memorialize a special time and place in hopes that their presence won’t ever be forgotten.

Take a look at collage-style audio slide show below. You might be surprised that there is so much graffiti among us.

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Fans React to the film For Colored Girls

For Colored Girls is a heavy film that follows the lives of nine women living in New York City. One fateful afternoon the lives of the women all come together as one experiences a tragic lost.

The film has a star studded cast that includes Janet Jackson, Phyllicia Rashad, Whoopi Goldberg, Macy Gray, Thandie Newton and others. Directed by Tyler Perry, the movie is based on a play written by Ntoshake Shange that was published in 1975. The play is 20 poems that come together to form a choreopoem. Perry faced the challenge of taking those 20 pieces and making them into a movie. What has resulted is a film that is causing some fans to change the way they live their lives.

The film covers such emotional topics such as rape, abortion and HIV/AIDS. The themes of the film are dark but also healing. I interviewed a few fans in Manhattan to get their reaction to the film. Watch the video posted below to see highlights from the trailer and get fan feedback on For Colored Girls.

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Soundslide: NYC’s Only All Female Mariachi Group Make Beautiful Music

Mariachi music originated in Mexico, consists of string, brass and wind instruments and is a genre typically dominated by men. But rules are meant to be broken. Enter Mariachi Flor de Toloache, New York City’s only all female mariachi group.

Named after a flower native to Mexico, the band consists of a rotating number of female musicians from all over the world.

Here is a soundslide from an interview with one of the bands singers, Shae Fiol, talks about the bands and start how people react to the band.

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Ukuleles: A Piece of Hawaiian Hospitality

Organizer of the New York Ukulele MeetUp Group Makalina speaks about how she found the four strings that now defines her lifelong passion. The group meets every Fridays and Saturdays at the Uke Hut, a little piece of Hawaii located in the basement of Maui Tacos, Midtown.

Visit their website to find out more:

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Greenlight Bookstore Enters VuVox

The Greenlight Bookstore, located in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, is an independent bookstore with a neighborhood focus that offers small time authors the opportunity to launch their books in a more intimate and casual environment. Entrepreneurs and authors Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito approached Greenlight Bookstore founder Jessica Stockton to launch there their new book titled “Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented” on Nov. 16. Here are some pictures of the event in the bookstore and the wine testing that took place before the event at the liquor store The Green Grape.

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New York City’s Artists Hit The Streets

The Met and MoMA aren’t the only places in New York City where you can find great art – All you have to do is walk along the sidewalk.

The city is home to a vast group of sculptors, painters, graphic artists, photographers and other artisans that help cultivate the culture of art no matter what neighborhood or block you might find yourself in.

Click around on the map to to learn more about some of the great street works of art, the artists that helped design them, and just what about New York City inspires them.

View New York City Outdoor Art in a larger map

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Slain City Councilman’s Legacy Lives On

A few weeks ago we brought you audio clips of Geoffrey Davis, whose brother, James E. Davis, was a City Councilman from Brooklyn who was shot and killed inside City Hall in 2003.  (If you want even more info about the Davis brothers, check out this recent story on the New York Times’ Local blog.)

Today we bring you an audio slideshow of Geoffrey.  Hopefully you’ll gain new insight into Geoffrey by looking at photos of him inside the small memorial he’s made for James inside his Crown Heights home, while listening to him talk about his brother’s legacy of nonviolence activism.

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Filming the New York Art Scene

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New York City: A Zoo Without Walls

View Who Needs A Zoo: Unusual Wildlife in NYC in a larger map
If you want to see exotic animals in NYC, where do you usually go? Central Park, the Bronx and Prospect Park all boast excellent zoos, but turns out you don’t need to pay admission to see wildlife in the big apple.
All across the city, folks have been spotting critters from alligators to wild parrots.
Have you seen an unusual creature in the city? Email me ( a photo and location and I will add it to the map.

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Craft Fair Vendors: On the Road for the Holiday Season

This year’s One of a Kind Show in New York City showcased the work of more than 200 vendors of handmade goods—and while there are certainly hundreds of crafters in the tri-state area, these folks came from far and wide.

Check out the map to see how far some of these artists (and salespeople) came.

View One of a Kind Vendors in a larger map

Bonus: click the lines to get their mileage!

For more on the event, here’s our full coverage from the weekend of: Selling Individuality in New York City

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