Category Archives: Art Is Everywhere

How Do You Know Banksy Is White? #QuestionsThatNeedAnswers

HISTORY LESSON: in 1983 a talented young black aspiring street artist named Michael Stewart was arrested and murdered by the NYC police department.

he was doodling with a marker on public transit (the MTA subways) towards his home in Brooklyn. He was unaware that MTA transit police were watching.

At 2:30 he was arrested and handcuffed.

later on, the pursuit of an indictment of the 10 MTA police officers would reveal that Stewart was beaten twice in two DIFFERENT locations. He was first beaten while cuffed outside the train station, and then was beaten again outside the police station. Witnesses said they saw officers beating Stewart with billy clubs, choking him with a nightstick, and slamming his head against the concrete sidewalk. He screamed for help – the officers continued to kick and beat him until he fell silent, and then they hog-tied him, and tossed his 135 pound, 5′11 body into the back of the van. He was a Pratt institute student and young artist. He was also described as “docile”, a “retiring” young man.

They claimed he tried to run.

At 3:20 AM, Stewart was brought to Bellevue hospital in police custody. He was hog-tied, bruised, and without a pulse. Evidence in the reports suggested he stopped breathing before making it to the Hospital. Hospital staff actually were able to revive his pulse and breathing, but he fell into a coma for 13 days before dying in the hospital. This was first labeled as cardiac arrest. The medical examiner hired by the family to be present during the autopsy stated it was strangulation.

Coroner’s evidence was “lost”.

On October 19, about 20 black community leaders, including City Councilwoman Mary Pinkett (D. Brooklyn), protested outside the Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau’s office at the Criminal Courts Building. Morgenthau refused to see the group stating that it would be inappropriate to comment before the case went to the grand jury in November 1983. The November 2 medical examiner’s final report from Dr. Gross differed from his preliminary report. Gross declined to state explicitly what caused the death, but reported that Stewart died of “physical injury to the spinal cord in the upper neck” and concluded that there were “a number of possibilities as to how an injury of this type can occur”.[4]

10 MTA NYPD were involved in this case. TEN. Of the ten, 6 were put on trial and acquitted of any wrong doing, and only one was found guilty of perjury during the trial. The officer who faced reprimanding for perjury also requested stress-related disability pension. They had an all-white jury.

The civil trial on behalf of the family had a fundraiser started by Suzanne Mallouk. The famous street artist Keith Haring donated the bulk of the money to this fund. Haring also stated that this series of events shocked fellow street artist Jean-Michel Basquiat to his core, stating:

“One thing that affected Jean-Michel greatly was the Michael Stewart story …. He was completely freaked out. It was like it could have been him. It showed him how vulnerable he was” (Keith Haring)

Basqiuat’s response was:

“It could have been me. It could have been me.“ 

The $40 million suit was settled out of court for $1.7 million.

Artists took note, and included Stewart in tributes and memorials.

Among them:

The song “Graffiti Limbo” penned by songwriter Michelle Shocked on her Short Sharp Shocked release. An extra verse she sings live is not on the album: “You see in order to determine that Michael Stewart was strangled to death / The coroner had to use Michael Stewart’s eyeballs, his eyes, as evidence, / So now when I tell you it was Michael Stewart’s eyes that the coroner lost / Do you know what I mean when I say that justice is blind.”[8]

The death of “Radio Raheem” in Spike Lee’s film, Do the Right Thing.

“Hold On” from Lou Reed’s album New York contains the following line: “The dopers sent a message to the cops last weekend they shot him in the car where he sat. And Eleanor Bumpurs and Michael Stewart must have appreciated that.”

The 1987 film “Police StateNick Zedd makes reference to Michael Stewart in a scene depicting a conversation between a cop and a young man, leading to an unlawful arrest. The film was a black comedy about police brutality, inspired in part by the Michael Stewart case and Operation Pressure Point, an operation designed to “clean up” and gentrify the Lower East Side of NYC.

Finally, Haring and Basquiat both produced works:

Keith Haring, “Michael Stewart – USA for Africa.”

And then,

Seeing his own life reflected in the death of a fellow artist, Basquiat went on to create Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart), not only to commemorate the young man’s death, but also to challenge the state-sanctioned brutality that men of color could face for pursuing their art in public spaces.

Now, the NYPD has not changed. Banksy hasn’t been arrested. Banksy has not been beaten, hog-tied, strangled, or shot. Hell, Banksy hasn’t even been charged with any kind of court order against rampant vandalism in the US.

You think Banksy is anything but white? Basquiat was TERRIFIED, because he could have easily been beaten to death by the police as an artist.

Basquiat had a reason to be.

Ultimately, with the help of razor wire fences around train yards, police “vandal squads” (infamous for the beatings they sometimes delivered to graffiti artists they caught), and even attack dogs, New York authorities were able to all but destroy the graffiti movement in the city.

Now in this same article, Michael Stewart’s mother does not necessarily link her son with street art and rap music, but emphasized:

…She wanted people to remember him in a much broader history of black suffering and white brutality, invoking names like Emmett Till, Eleanor Bumpurs and Trayvon Martin. [….] She wanted people to remember that her son fell prey to an America that victimizes young men like her son “all the time.” Her voice quavered only once, and it wasn’t when she recounted the terrible night of Michael’s death; it was when she reflected upon the abuses that still persist, even after 30 years.“Nothing much has changed,” she said once, and then again, faintly. “Nothing much has changed.”

You can suggest Banksy is not a british white man, but I think the very proof of Banksy’s whiteness is obvious in the fact that after a solid month of vandalizing new york city, he didn’t turn up dead, or even in jail.

ETA: jhenne-bean said: + Delbert Rodriguez Gutierrez, who cops straight up ran over.


Link to an article about Demz here and here.

And the year prior, street artist Israel “Reefa” Hernández-Llach was killed by police taser. (According to his friends, “the police officers joked about the victim while he was on the ground”. Plus the cops then said that he died bc he was on drugs whennnnn that’s not what the coroner said.)

.02 ¢ via Claid Lady

Why you standing over there with ya clothes on?


“There is no greater mystery than the skin of a poet’s dream in 35 mm” – Andy Warhol


Skin… is a many layered thing; it is artistic, it is cultural, it is biological, it rests on the fragile fringe of one’s inner and outer space… not to be melodramatic, but we consider it an overlooked focus – an abstract opus – of cultural connective tissue.

So, for Art Nouveau’s Skin issue, we chose a duo who connected all of those elements in a most masterful manner: Chester French – black tears, faced fears, a pair so open-minded about the lovable future that their well-endowed brains have descended upon every listener’s ears.

“SKIN,” our 9th issue, features Chester French and Kevin Michael on the cover, interviews with Jck Dvy, Indigo Charlie, TONE, Pete Kirill and more.

…So why you standing over there with ya clothes on?

Get your hands on both covers of Art Nouveau’s “SKIN” issue.


Chester French – black tears, faced fears, a pair so open-minded about the lovable future

We had a chat with Max and D.A. to get an inside look at how they view those elements that make the epidermis so oddly endearing. When we come into this world, our skin is supple and soft, that unhindered remnant of divine design; for artists like Chester French, the first album is of that same fresh design. The label signs you because of that new-new you bring to this world. Musicians wear that skin like a manifestation of the self. Unlike the child though, an artist can craft their own primary skin; now more than ever, it is getting harder to make that sonic aesthetic a signature different than all others. – Interview by Swiper Bootz and Cover Art by TONE


Getting Honest & Clean with Kevin Michael

Unbeknownst to Kevin Michael, he was under a tremendous amount of pressure. I didn’t just want him to give me clean and honest answers to my questions, but I wanted him to inspire me to write the most honest thing I have ever written. So, naturally, I wanted to delve into the darkest part of anyone’s lifetime; their childhood. “I didn’t grow up in a household with many rules. My father was kind of a ghetto celebrity. As a kid you don’t know any better.” Little Kevin Michael was being snuck into bars and hidden behind speakers that towered over him that left him born into not just rock ‘n roll, but the lifestyle accompanied with it thanks to his father who is a musician. He was never totally drowned into the deviant lifestyle Drew Barrymore-style, but it did leave him longing for something peculiar, especially upon artistic types. – interview by Myles Johnson and cover shot by  R. Carter for R. Carter Photography.

Advertise in our upcoming issue

We’re putting the finishing touches on our upcoming SKIN issue. Can’t wait to share what we’ve been working on. We’re now offering full page advertisements for only $150. And for every full page ad purchased you’ll recieve a free week of advertising online. This is an amazing opportunity for artists and galleries to have their voice heard and their work seen by our growing base of art enthusiasts.

Email for more info!

#Sellingdemlinestothekids A story about a girl named Christina

Christina is some Italian girl I met at the airport once, on the way to LA. We spoke for two hours due to a delayed flight that sparked some of the most beautiful conversation ever. She stayed in Atlanta briefly and said that had somewhat of an impact on her musical taste. She loves the indie scene, but out of all the indie artists at the time she was fond of rap/hip-hop.

She said she’d been listening to:

I asked her about her favorite DJ’s and funny enough among her list, she mentioned my good friend: Xavier BLK

We spoke a bit more and I gained a friend.  The other day, Christina told me she just wanted to be big. I asked for what, and she said, “for my namesake.”

“I love progressive art, I love to travel, and I love to meet new people.” -CHRISTINA

Come meet Christina 090712 at the Sound Table’s Space2 and watch her iPod come to life.

Click here to RSVP via Facebook.