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Peap Tarr, a New Zealand/Cambodian Street Artist, said to us that Street Art is a worldwide community. From tagging subways and protest art in poor communites in New York City in the 1960s and 70s, Street art has evolved into a wordwide art form. You can see it on the streets in Buenos Aires, Singapore, Penang, Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Budapest, London, Jersey City and many other places. In New York City, you can find murals in every neighborhood. The Bushwick Brooklyn Street Art is one of the must see places in New York City.

Most people conflate street art in Bushwick with the Bushwick Collective. But Bushwick street art is far more than the Bushwick Collective, it is a living, breathing dialogue, a conversation about art, graffiti, gentrification and the community that is taking place all over the walls of the community. There are tags, murals, tags on murals, political statements, painted advertisements and more. It is a thought-provoking and interactive outdoor street art gallery.

Bushwick Street Art. Iurato & Hicks Mural. The Bushwick Collective.

Bushwick Street Art. Iurato & Hicks Mural. The Bushwick Collective. Bombed with Tags by local graffiti artists. This mural has been painted over as of June 2019.

Bushwick Brooklyn Street Art: Something New Everytime You Go

Bushwick street art is ever-changing.

Every June, the Bushwick Collective Block Party brings in artists–local and international–to paint new murals. The Bushwick Collective is not the only thing happening in Bushwick. There are many street artists painting on their own. Walk a few blocks away from the main area and you will find them as well.

Some of the murals in this post were painted in 2018 and some in 2019. We have indicated which ones are older. Some of them have painted over. Whenever you go to Bushwick, and we recommend that you do, you’ll see some new and interesting art all over the walls. Bushwick should definitely be on your list of NYC must-dos.

The Soul of A City Can Be Found on the Walls

In June, the Bushwick Collective hosts a Block Party. Before the Party, artists arrive from all over the world to paint new murals. Many of the previous year’s murals are painted over. The video below is a conversation with Ruben Ibiera (Urban Ruben),  while he was painting a new mural for this year’s Block Party. His mural is a Deconstruction of Biggie Smalls. There are several murals of Biggie Salls in Bushwick–he grew up nearby. Here’s one of the quotes from the video:

You can tell the soul of the City by seeing the murals. You can go to Philadelphia and you are going to see a lot of murals. And you can go to Ireland and see a lot of murals. And you’re going to see a lot of murals in Ireland that are about war and … terrorism and all of the violence that has happened there. And, you’re going to see beautiful murals too. It tells you what is allowed in a city without you having to ask. No matter what city you go to, the murals tell you a lot. The voice of the street. The people. It’s very important. It’s really an open forum.

Bushwick Brooklyn Street Art June 2019

For more videos of Bushwick Street artists, go to our Street Art Speaks Interviews

Bushwick: A History of Challenges and Changes

Bushwick is a poor and working class neighborhood of more than 300,000 people. It has grown and changed through waves of immigration–Dutch during colonial times (it was called Boswijk or Town of Woods), then Italian, then African American and Puerto Rican, and more recently, many more Latino communities (Dominican and Central American). In the late 1960s and 1970s, when riots occurred all across the country and the Bronx burned, so did Bushwick. Those who could left. Abandoned buildings, drugs, poverty and gangs took hold. In the 1980s, 45% of the community lived below the poverty line and the crack epidemic swept the neighborhood.

Broken Windows Theory of Policing

Bushwick has come a long way since then and some of the residents have been there through all of it. In the 1990s, Mayor Rudy Giuliani came into office and brought the “Broken Windows” approach to policing which focused on decreasing low level crimes–graffiti, vandalism, public drinking, fare evasion–as the gateway to reducing serious crime and making neighborhoods safer. This approach was felt most in the poor, African American and Latino communities and resulted in the harassment and arrest of young people. Graffiti was prosecuted and seen as one of the “Broken Windows” that needed to be cleaned up.

Street Art Saved My Life

Street Artists Havitatu grew up in Bushwick. In this video he speaks about growing up in Bushwick, tagging and how he became a street artist.

Gentrification of Bushwick Begins

As changes were taking place all over the city,  artists, writers and students began moving to Bushwick, laying claim to abandoned warehouses and lofts. More recently, young professionals have been drawn into the community by the rising rents and prices in Manhattan, Williamsburg and DUMBO.

Bushwick is now a mix of longtime residents (predominantly Latino)  that have been there for decades, artists and newer students and professionals. The poverty rate remains at 30% while newer trendy stores are arriving. I also saw a lot of industry in the neighborhood–construction, design, steel fabrication, mechanical and other small companies.

You can read about the Punto Urban Art Museum and its approach to street art and social justice.

The Bushwick Collective-Murals from 2018

The Bushwick Collective is an outdoor street art gallery started by Joseph Ficalora. He grew up in Bushwick during the 1970s and 1980s. In 2012, Ficalora began to bring artists from around the world to paint walls in Bushwick to bring the community together to beautify the neighborhood. There are now hundreds of murals all over Bushwick. There are also tags (writing of names/initials), political murals, stickering and many other personal and political expressions on the walls, stoops, dumpster and even in the bathroom of a restaurant that I went to. While the heart of the Bushwick Collective is at Troutman Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, there is art all over.

Street artists come from all over the world to paint in Bushwick. Blek the Rat (France), Banksy (UK), Phlegm (London), Reka (Australia), Olek(Poland), Pixel Pancho (Italy), Solus (Dublin), Kobra, Spiros, Owen Dippie ( New Zealand) are some of the artisits found on the Bushwick walls. Local Bushwick artists include Sara Erenthal, ac2 bsk, Hopsart, Zexor and others.

Political Art in Bushwick

There are many political murals in Bushwick related to police brutality and other current issues. The police brutality mural by AC2 BSK with the names of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddy Gray and dozens of other people killed by the police was an important statement. That mural may have been painted over this year.


Current Controversies in Bushwick

As mentioned above, there are very strong feelings in the community about street art and the Bushwick Collective. Some people are very happy about the street art. It brings tourists and more dollars into the neighborhood, has beautified parts of the neighborhood. Others feel that the street art has contributed to gentrification which is driving out long time residents. Some others don’t like seeing tour guides leading tours in the community.

Within the community of artists, some feel that international street artists have been promoted at the expense of local artists. Some feel there is a competition for walls while others feel this is not true. With the changes in Bushwick, the walls have become more valuable and advertisers are now hand painting stenciled advertisements onto some of the walls. Sometimes they take walls from street artists and the Bushwick Collective.

Bombing (Tagging) Of Bushwick Murals

And, there is an ongoing trend of graffiti artists tagging or bombing some of the street art murals. Local artists Zexor, raised in Bushwick, was reportedly one of the first to start bombing the murals with his initials. At one point he tagged on a wall:


This dialogue on the walls is important and raises issues that the community needs and wants to discuss. We recommending viewing the YouTube documentary called No Free Walls: Art and Gentrification Collide in Bushwick.

Going to See Bushwick Street Art

Bushwick Street Art. Lmnopi Mural. The Bushwick Collective.

Getting to Bushwick is an easy ride on the L Train. The 9th stop is Jefferson and that’s where you’ll get off. The MTA was planning to shut down the L Train between Bedford and 8th Avenue for 2 years for repairs, but that has been changed. Repairs are taking place mainly at night and on the weeknds. As a result, weekend service can be very slow.

Where to Eat in Bushwick

Since Bushwick is becoming gentrified, there are many new hip restaurant, bars and coffee shops popping up. These can be pricey. Some of the best places to eat are off the main drag.


it a Venezuelan restaurant that serves some of the best arepas and empanadas you can find in NYC. They make a arepas and an empanada that are filling and very tasty. We recommend the vegetarian and Pabellon (beef and black beans) as an arepa or empanada. The empanadas are large and cost $5USD+ and the arepas run $7USD-$9USD.

Address: 44 Irving Avenue (between Jefferson & Troutman)

Los Hermanos

Los Hermanos serves good tacos and other Mexican dishes. The corn tortillas are freshly made and the steak taco is very good. Nothing fancy here, just good and inexpensive food.

Address: 271 Starr Street (between Wyckoff and St. Nicholas)

If you are in the mood for pizza, Artichoke Pizza  (17 Wyckoff St.) and Roberta’s (261 Moore St), Union Pizza (423 Troutman St) are good bets.

If you are in Bushwick on a Saturday, drop by the Bushwick Market. There are some eclectic stalls with old cameras and other things.

What do you think about Street Art? Good for the Neighborhood? Cause of Gentrification?

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