At the beginning of December, 5 Pointz was basically gone, but the streets of New York City are stilled filled with art. Graffiti complaints are up throughout the city and for those of us who love hunting for street art, there has been no better time be a part of the art scene here. Over the summer, we listed the Top 10 Street Art Murals of The Year (So Far) and with the year coming to an end, we selected our 10 favorite pieces that made the streets of NYC that much more interesting. And for more, check out the top 10 street art trucks of the year too.
10. Smart Crew, Snoeman & Elmo Chinatown: The Lower “Far East” Side
After much debate, we couldn’t leave this Smart Crew piece out. Here is what we said about it earlier this year: “Just the amount of headaches it has caused for the legion of NY instagrammers is something to write about. We have seen many try (including us) to get a perfect shot of the mural. Besides people walking in the shot, you have to worry about traffic, parked cars and boxes blocking your chance for Instagram glory. But for those who luckily got the whole mural un-blocked, they earned the respect and jealously of the IG community.”
9. Werc: Shamanic Visions
Werc (via Instagram)
This beautifully detailed piece still amazes us whenever we journey to Gowanus. It is hard not to just lose yourself in the incredible detail that Werc put into this. The symmetry of the mural is incredibly difficult to perform with a spray can, but Werc does it almost effortlessly. The artist has been making the rounds around Brooklyn lately, but this is so far, his crowning achievement.
8. Klops & Noxer – NSA
Klops & Noxer (NotExactlyBlue via Instagram)
It would be an understatement to suggest that NYC graffiti artist Klops has a problem with authority (he is, after all, allegedly fourth on the Vandal Squad’s Most Wanted List). This idea of him being anti-authority has become much more clear to us with the message that has appeared in his work since Edward Snowden revealed the practices of the NSA. Klops has gone from making pieces that include fictional characters such as Link from the Legend of Zelda and a Oompa Loompa from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, to creating pieces that have a very strong political message.
This could just be trolling, or just maybe, while not tagging up walls and abandoned buildings throughout the city, Klops is somewhere watching Citizen Four and reading The Intercept. Regardless of how he comes across this information, the actions of the NSA have struck a nerve with the artist and this amusing piece, in collaboration with graffiti artist Noxer is both laugh out loud funny, and a smart political critique.
7. See One – Jewel Runner
BJewel Runner (Image via See One)
See One’s Blue Eagle was the best piece in Welling Court this year and the Brooklyn artist outdid himself with this banger of a mural in Bushwick. The piece, part of a country wide art project to promote NYC/Atlanta rap group Run The Jewels, is See One’s take on the group’s sophomore album cover. The piece consist of two hands (resembling the cover) covered in his trademark shards, which give each hand the appearance of possessing incredible energy; matching the adrenaline that rappers Killer Mike and EL-P produce on their much praised second album.
6. Aakash Nihalani & Know Hope – Uncornered
Uncornered (Image via Unurth)
Collaborations between street artists from two very different backgrounds is what makes the NYC scene so interesting. Israeli artist Know Hope teamed up with Brooklyn artist Aakash Nihalani for this piece that mixes the latter’s optical illusion style with Know Hope’s traditional illustrated one. Both artists, whose two separate styles are simple in their complexity, come together to make something that makes everyone who passes it think for a second. How did they pull it off?
5. Starfighter A, Easeone & Mr. Dis Satisfied – Low Hope
Low Hope (StarFighterA via Instagram)
This piece in Bushwick by Mr. Dis Satisfied, Starfighter A and EaseOne is one of those pieces you have to see from a distance to truly take in how remarkable it is, mixing typography, still-life, animals, human figures and characters. It is a moody piece with the pair of faces in ice blue, the fish getting hooked on the left, the sad owl on the right. The message is pretty bleak honestly, but even with that in mind, only joy came whenever we were in the mood for Roberta’s and we past by this wonderful work of art.
4. Sonni, Icy & Sot – Gulliver 2.0
Gulliver 2.0 (Halopigg via Instagram)
This piece, which functions as a work of anti-censorship, is from Iranian brothers Icy & Sot, and Spanish artist Sonni. In one of 2014’s best pieces, the original Gulliver was a soldier being tied up by Sonni’s little characters in a strong political statement against war. For some reason, the mural was buffed over not even a day after completion. In response, the trio decided to use the situation to remake the piece. Instead of using a soldier in the role of Gulliver, they decided to have a city worker being tied down by the characters.
3. DalEast – Two Birds No Stone
(Image via DALeast)
The Chinese born, Cape Town based artist held one of the biggest art openings of the year at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in Chelsea over the fall. This piece on St. Marks Place which promoted the exhibit is one of the best and largest to be painted in NYC this year. DALeast has painted animals of all kinds, and while no stranger to leaving murals here in the city, Manhattanites should be glad he left his mark in the borough.
2. Dasic Fernandez – Hand of Protest
Hand of Protest (TatteredFedoraFlow via Instagram)
This has been a Dasic Fernandez year. If there was an MVP like category for this list, he would make it no questions asked. His colorful pieces that are in numerous parts of Brooklyn have wowed fellow street artists, bloggers, photographers and pedestrians. His best piece out of the many he dropped this year is this remarkable mural at the Bushwick Collective. Using not only the wall but also part of the sidewalk, Dasic mixes in real along with the spiritual for this dark yet vibrantly colorful piece. The realistically painted eyes and hand are not over powered by the shroud and rainbow colored body. The colors are enough to give you an out-of-body experience but the cold stare brings you back to reality, as you notice the oil oozing from his hand onto the streets of Brooklyn. This piece is remarkable for its beauty, but has been remembered mostly for its message.
1. Case Maclaim & Pixel Pancho: Paper Covers Rock
Paper Covers Rock (Halopigg via Instagram)
The throne remains untouched. It was number one five months ago and it still reigns today as the best work of art on the streets of NYC in 2014. Collaborating for the first time with this piece, these two extremely talented artists, who seem like complete opposites of one another (Case Maclaim, whose work deals with realistic anatomy, and Pixel Pancho whose work features machinery and robots) compliment each other perfectly.
And finally an honorable mention:
Honorable Mention: Jerkface – Free Cost (TheRealKateChip via Instagram)
2014 was an incredible time to be an artist making their name, or an explorer discovering another masterpiece. 2015 is another year and another chance for artists to make an impact on the NYC scene. Next, check out the top 10 street art trucks of the year
To contact the author, find him on the streets of New York or on Twitter @ChrisLInoa