A slice of the Big Apple right here in Gainesville! UF Performing Arts Annual Gala transformed Phillips Center into iconic New York locales. Featuring dinner by Blue Water Bay of Melrose, FL, decor by Keith Watson Productions, live performance by Fabian Almazan, graffiti and fine artists painting live, and much more!
2018 Gala’s theme was A Night in the City which is New York. Little yellow cabs, traffic lights, Time Square, and graffiti writing on the subway train were part of the decor. Graffiti is undoubtedly an important city sight. Modern graffiti began in Philadelphia, in the 1960s. Around 1970-71 the center of graffiti culture shifted from Philadelphia to New York City, especially around Washington Heights, where writers such as TAKI 183 and Tracy 168 started to gain media attention. Using a naming convention in which they would add their street number to their nickname, they “bombed” a train with their work, letting the subway take it throughout the city. Since then, graffiti changed a lot technically and visually. Many graffiti artists turned into muralism, however, some remained old school “true” graffiti writers. Among them Kies One who has been writing for over 30 years to date. He was invited to participate in UFPA Gala 2018. Besides the New York native, seven more regional artists were selected for live painting and a train-shaped installation that was situated outside of the Phillips Center. Local Gainesville talents whose work we often see on the 34th Street Wall teamed up with writers from Jacksonville and Orlando.
It was a great opportunity to connect together Gainesville artists with Jacksonville and Orlando based crews and introduce them to the local female muralists and fine artists. I believe the mix of styles, techniques, and experiences at some point benefited all the participants. I hope they had a great time. Further, their works were showcased to the wide and quite different audience of Gala visitors. I loved watching people approaching and communicating with artists. Finally, I was amazed by full sold out of created artworks at the silent auction in the end! – Iryna Kanishcheva, the art showcase curator.
The artistic crew:
Iryna Kanishcheva (Gainesville) – team leader/curator
Iryna Kanishcheva is a well-known figure in the street art world. She was born and raised in Ukraine where she received two Master’s degrees. Upon moving to the USA, she founded and curated the first urban art project in North Florida, 352walls. After that, she worked as the Co-Founder and Co-Curator for one of the biggest mural projects in the world, ArtUnitedUs (Kyiv, Ukraine), well-known for its row of significant artworks. She established an online guide to the street art scene and urban culture in Gainesville, GNVUrbanArt.com. For Art (Re)public in Jacksonville, FL she worked as Urban Art Consultant and gathered the best artists from around the world. She also was a Creative Partner for Basel House Mural Festival in Miami, Wynwood, consulting the project during Art Basel 2017. Currently, Iryna curates the Grove Street Neighborhood project that brings together Gainesville residents and features the work of regional and national artists.
Kies One (NYC)
Kies One, is a graffiti artist and muralist who has been going graffiti for over 30 years now, as a young man he used to paint on trains and walls all over New York with friends like Tekay TNR, Ghost RIS, and many more. Over the years Kies has entered into graffiti art, bringing his bold colors, wild style letters and graffiti skills into his art works and murals.
Eduardo Smet (Orlando)
Eduardo Colon, Artistically know as “Smet”, is a contemporary artist and muralist currently working on his Studio Fine Art BFA with a concentration on painting. Eduardo’s works are a combination of human anatomy exploration and graffiti aesthetics, intermixing his traditional painting skills with his modern graffiti skills he creates works that are both classical and modern renditions.
Steffen Vala (Gainesville)
Raised on rap, Copenhagen-born artist Steffen Vala spent a decade in New York City from the late 90s, where he earned a BFA at the School of Visual Arts. Now with a Master of Arts from Central Saint Martins in London and an M.S. in Interactive Entertainment from UCF, Vala‘s latest street art reflects the range of his studies and experiences around the world.
Historically, artistic expression has always naturally arisen from revolutions in consciousness. The battle has immutably been between this inherent inclination for eternal existence and the arbitrary arrogation of the ephemeral world. Unfortunately, the profusely naive chanting of the “YOLO” (You Only Live Once) mantra in modern society has debilitated the individual’s core need to Inquire about the nature of existence, an expedition every great wisdom culture has embarked on. After so much existential dilemma and in the hopes to humbly carry out one’s natural sojourn in the evolution of consciousness, out from the scrimmage an alternate persona was spawned, myself as an artist under the moniker, Point108. Ironically, The prominent weapon (medium) of choice is by nature transient and simultaneously allows an easy access to the experience of detachment. This is the very constitution of graffiti and street art, which demonstrates that with the proper utility of consciousness anything can be engaged in this existential quest. I progressively began this exploration in 1998 primarily ignited by the inspirations of the local Miami graffiti community at large and then later the Midwest scene. After more than a decade of being immersed in the technical development of this medium, a period of deep introspection ensued. This, in turn, has provided unprecedented realizations and approaches that, in hopes, will break the cultural barriers of dissonance and ontological inertia that is prominent today.
Campbell S. Caroll (Jacksonville)
Brief statement: “Studying art and design started at a young age and I went to all the art schools I could attend. It wasn’t really enough, though it was a good start. Since my upbringing I’ve been opening myself up to anything that intrigues me, from traditional to degenerate. I wanted to tell stories or at least instill strong emotion in others. It’s why what I do usually comes off as graphic or aggressive in style and in tone. Illustrator, painter, muralist, and graffiti writer are all titles I’ve known and I’m still collecting more. ”
Nicole Holderbaum (Jacksonville)
Originally from South Florida, Nico is a Jacksonville, FL based artist, creative director, and youth empowerment enthusiast. After attending the BaK Middle School of the Arts, and the Dreyfoos High School of the Arts in South Florida, she moved to Jacksonville to study at the University of North Florida. She left UNF after a few years to focus on art, and has since painted various murals around the city and developed various mural and arts initiatives including a project, the Jax Kid’s Mural Project, through which she leads a team in designing and painting murals with underprivileged students in Title 1 schools of Duval County. Her main focus is providing creative support for children and residents in Jacksonville from all over the city as a means to uplift and inspire communities in need. Nico also seeks to aid other artists in the progression of their individual careers through connections and sourcing of jobs. Beyond working with children, communities in need, and other artists, her current personal focus is on creative direction in various forms, progressive mural productions, and exploration of the relationship between art and technology.
Jenna Horner (Gainesville)
“The intention of my work is to encourage a dialogue about the beauty, complexity and mysterious qualities of the natural world. I work as a multi-media artist using various vintage fabrics, paints, dried flowers and other repurposed media in order to build unique, highly textured surfaces. I thrive on bringing new life to orphaned materials. Recycling and repurposing materials allow each painting to tell a different and unique narrative. My passion for creating is central to how I define myself as a person. In 2014 I graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and a minor in art history. I am currently living in Gainesville, FL working as a full-time artist while teaching part-time.”
Iuliia Niiazbekova (Gainesville)
Iuliia Niiazbekova was born in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where she’s lived her entire life until moving to Gainesville in 2015. Iuliia graduated from The Russian-Slavic University with a Bachelor Degree in Architecture. After graduation, she showed the most interest in interior and landscape design. She has successfully worked as an interior designer in several companies in many countries. Most recently Iuliia has worked as a freelancer for residential design in Russia and Qatar. Her favorite hobby is oil painting. Within her artwork she likes to mix different styles, ranging from sleek and contemporary to weathered and organic. She considers that while art may not be vital to fulfilling our basic needs, it does make life joyful.
More about the event is covered by The Gainesville Sun: Graffiti at UF Performing Arts Center.