Bohemia Blog by Agent Michael Reese Machemer
The vibrant paintings of uptown artist, James “BlusterOne” Alicea adorn Bohemia's new Washington Heights office and the hallways of their exclusive brownstone development at 2064 5th Avenue. Color comes off the canvas as bubble letters burst into funky characters, chatting and dancing to an internal rhythm.
There’s a beat to Alicea’s paintings and in true hip-hop fashion James has been known to perform improvised rhymes as accompaniment to them. Born in 1970, Alicea grew up on the Lower East Side and started drawing at a young age. He was inspired by early PBS programs like Sesame Street and Electric Company and cites their integration of “music, letterforms and animation to teach kids,” as something he maintains in his own work. Recently he gave a demonstration on font transformation to a young audience at Blick Art Materials on Bond St. Modifying letters is something he learned on the LES after his cousin turned him onto graffiti at Sunday school.
Alicea soon became a student of the second wave of subway art and furthered his draftsmanship during the 80’s ‘Wild Style’ heyday at the prestigious High School of Art & Design in the Bronx. The premiere spot for NYC vandals, where talent from all five boroughs ascended, and what Alicea puts as, “a converging of styles, ideologies, and culture on a daily basis.” A dialogue he’s continued to express in his work for the past thirty years, developing clothing brands (PNB Nation, AndSuns) logos (Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, New Balance) and engaging in artist collectives like the Barnstorms and Fame City around the world. At age 46, he lives in Hamilton Heights with his wife, photographer Laurie Markiewicz, where they operate under the guise 596 Artists Union, their design studio that focuses on community initiatives and neighborhood awareness through art. Not far from Alicea’s studio is the Gitler&____ Gallery who helped commission the work for Bohemia. Owner, Avi Gitler champions rising uptown artists and has been integral in the Audubon Society Mural Project, in which various artists were curated to paint endangered bird species on the gates of businesses along Broadway.
Alicea and Markiewicz have a new collaborative show of painting and photography, “Days in the Life” on view at Avant Garde LES until August 1st.
596 Artists Union
Gitler&____ Gallery is located at 3629 Broadway between 149th and 150th St.
Learn more about the Audubon Mural Project