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Bushwick: The Icy and Sot Spot

On the first day of fall, I met with Icy and Sot (link) at a rooftop on Maujer Street off of Morgan Avenue that they curate in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Icy and Sot are dissidents who fled from Iran where artists do not have the freedom of expression. They are brothers and masters of stencil art, accomplished gallery artists and their murals can be seen all over NYC and beyond the Big Apple.

ICY (born 1985) and SOT (born 1991) are stencil artists from Tabriz Iran, they continue on their creative crusade to dismantle pre-conceived perceptions of a fleeting Iranian tradition through their striking stencil artwork. Since 2006, they have made paramount accomplishments in Iranian urban art culture as both skaters and artists, creating an international buzz by playing it any way but safe. Their works are about war, peace, hope, despair, society issues and human rights. The two brothers have held numerous exhibitions around the world and their out door works have been seen on the streets of Iran, Turkey, Paris, Sao Paulo, San Francisco and New York to name a few.” — Bio of ICY and SOT

It was a windy day, mid 70’s with sun and clouds overhead. From the starting point I could see murals in the distance of this expansive ‘rooftop courtyard’. Sot and I walked out onto the immense, wide space of the connected rooftops, venturing from one building to the next. The brick wall where I chose to paint was equivalent to being halfway down the block if I was at street level. My spot is next to the stencil work of M-City from Poland and next to that is Sonni from Argentina who had just finished his mural.

I did not plan anything, nor had I given much thought to what I was going to paint prior to my arrival. I thought about it and decided for this project I would paint a female portrait. I asked Sot for paper and pencil, took out my cell to find a photo that inspired me and sat at the kitchen table and began drawing. Once finished, I went back to the wall and buffed it white, let it dry and began mapping out my linear sketch. Nobody was around, just me, the wall, the sun at my back and the airplanes in the sky. It is always a tranquil environment up on the rooftop. It was so peaceful that it took nearly two hours to notice I did not have my headphones on listening to music. That is when I realized how special that moment was and I chose to remain among the silence and howls of autumn breezes.

The saw me high on top of my ladder and yelled out to me. This time I had music in my ears, but still could hear their shout-outs. It was one half of the talented duo from UR New York, 2Esae. He came up to the roof with multi-genre artist Kennedy Yanko, who interviewed me for her up and coming documentary project being produced by Damon Dash. The camaraderie among artists is special here in New York. We are all busy doing our own thing and when we see one another, it is always love and respect.

After catching up, it was back to work applying my colors. Colors can move and bounce depending on their placements. I utilize a formula for my light and shade that enables me to paint each portrait with a different color scheme. I like to change it up and reinvent different patterns for color combinations in my work. The portrait I painted at the 5 Pointz rooftop has more line and colors, which is why I painted this one with less…and sometimes less is more.

It was another great experience to do what I love to do…paint and especially public murals. Thank you to Icy and Sot for their invitation to bring my colors of life to their rooftop. This is a cool place to tour and see works by many artists and every few months the brothers throw parties on the roof turning ‘party goers’ into ‘gallery viewers’ and get to explore the secrets of the elevated murals at the Icy and Sot spot.

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