The week didn’t start out great for Wayne Rada and the L.I.S.A. Project, his non-profit outfit that has brought a ton of world-class street art to Little Italy (of all places) and beyond over the past couple of years. Shepard Fairey, Conor Harrington, Queen Andrea, Lister, Crash and Daze, Stikman, Michael de Feo (aka The Flower Guy), Tristan Eaton… the list of L.I.S.A.-backed artists is long.
Anyway, last week Rada received a “cease-and-desist” order from the flavored-water company Wah-taa! (also a patron of street art, though for branding reasons rather than charitable ones) over the use of the hashtagged phrase #takebackthestreets, which Wah-taa! says it has trademark on, and has been used in several L.I.S.A Project murals and on their Instagram feed. Rada told me the action has already cost his charity $2,000 in legal fees; next steps for both parties is unclear.
But however stressful the hashtag situation may be for Rada, the issue was (mostly) put aside on Saturday afternoon for the L.I.S.A. Project’s 2nd Anniversary Party in the “Temper Tot” parking lot on Mulberry Street. An impressive crowd of artists (both old school and new) and art fans showed up and, fueled by plenty of free beer, wine, pizza, and pasta, cheered on the festivities’ main event, the Secret Walls art battle.
The art battle pitted two teams of top-tier graff writers and street artists in a 90-minute-long, black-spray-only contest. On the right,
you had Team Supreme, starring L’Amour Supreme, Jeremyville, Nick Gazin, and BoyKong; on the left was Team Low Brow, with Bishop 203, Zimad, Mastro, and Steiner. After what was really closer to two hours of painting (they almost literally ran out of wall to cover), the esteemed panel of four judges, which included legendary photographer Martha Cooper and Sean Corcoran of the Museum of the City of New York, were deadlocked at 2 – 2, so it was up the mob to decide the winner by “cheer-off”. And by a single decibel point on the noise meter, victory was granted to Low Brow.
Besides drinking and watching the guys paint (which, because they’re so talented, is surprisingly fascinating), lots of the party-goers hit the “Tagger’s Delight” free-for-all wall… and then they bombed the railings… and the port-o-potty… and pretty much every other surface in sight. There was also music via DJ Rawse, some little kids breaking, tons of posing in front of existing art in the lot, packs of happy if slightly befuddled tourists who happened upon the scene, and, basically, a good time for everyone involved.
The final Low Brow/Team Supreme mural will be up maybe until next year’s party; if you want to check it out the lot is on Mulberry between Grand and Canal. And for a look at Saturday’s festivities, click through the slideshow below.