A curated survey of this month’s “TOP TEN ARTISTS NYC NOW” from our Art 511 Magazine digital artist database. Coming soon, top featured artists from Los Angeles, San Francisco and more! Submit your work to be considered.
Learn more about how to be featured on our Top Ten List of Artists.
Born 1969 in Cuba
Myztico Campo makes visionary shamanic art. “The creative process is truly a sacred gift that I do not take for granted. It heals, informs and gives me a purpose in life much more gratifying than the quest for materialism or the importance of ‘ego,’” explains the self-trained painter. Having lost faith in governments, dogmatic religious institutions, the system of wage slavery promoted by Wall Street banksters and their minions, and the military industrial complex, given the “constant state of wars, mayhem, false flags for short-term profits and secretive dark agendas,” Myztico turns to art. Having begun to draw at the tender age of 5, his observations are his only art education. Through his visionary forms, Myztico pledges his faith in humanity and the spirit and power of LOVE, creative energy, goodwill, compassion, empathy, truth, humor, curiosity, mutual respect and honor. “I honor the spirits of infinite possibilities within the plant, animal & interdimensional kingdoms. Most importantly, I surrender to the infinite love of the universe and to our divine creator for the love it shares for ALL sentient beings.” Many of his works are inspired by entheogenic vision quests, 3rd eye transmissions, dream and meditation manifestations, and offer a glimpse beyond the veil of perception of the superficial and everyday, plunging into the deep realms of the psyche. The artist considers making this work his soul mission, and finds inspiration from Ancient and Native Cultures, Social Issues, Interdimensional Realms, Dreamtime, Altered States of Consciousness, Vision Quests, Meditation, Alien Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence, Science Fiction and Post Humanism. Typically, his complex works take the form of Acrylic on canvas, ink on paper, or digital formats. He also plays guitar/percussion and produces with his current group “Brooklyn Bonez,” in addition to working on short film and music video projects, poetry and writing. His forthcoming book “From Times Square to Burning Man” is a psychonaut’s journey between worlds. Born in Cuba, raised in NYC’s Hell Kitchen, the artist currently resides in Brooklyn and tours the country with his art including Live Painting at Festivals and Creative Think Tanks.
Follow the artist on Instagram @Myztico_Campo
Dodo Xinyu Zhang
Born 1989 in JILIN, Northeastern China
Dodo makes self-aware work about being born a woman in China in the late 80s. Around this time, China began an intense period of development with regard to economy and technology. “I realized that people could have [a] conversation with me through my work without any language.” The artist leans on art to create dialogue around misunderstood issues and reflect the unique standpoint of her Chinese female subjectivity, in acknowledgment of the way in which the perceived ordinariness of her own quotidien experience is far from mainstream. She intends that her work push viewers outside the comfort level of personal background and the hegemony of cultural norms. The process of making art allows Dodo to reflect on the relationship between culture and time — “This whole process from thinking to communicating makes me feel alive.” The artist’s careful process seeing a concept take shape from ideation to final outcome of the work is a way of questioning her own “ordinary” values and beliefs, situating them within and against the status quo here in the West. Having recently obtained her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in the Chelsea Arts district of Manhattan, she questions what society promises in return to those my conform to the standards imposed. Often this takes the form of unpacking Asian Beauty standards and making a commentary on the crazed phenomena of cosmetics. Recent works of hers that address this include a 4-channel video Beauty Meditation clock, Idle Character, and Dodo’s website project Asianbeautystudio.com. Another outgrowth of that body of work will be a photo book called Asian Beauty Catalog. She recruited 10 Asian girls from the SVA MFA-photo department to be her catalog “idols.” Playing on the typical Asian Beauty standards and idol aesthetic, she’ll add her own touch of experimental editing to throw a fork into the plasticized, fantasy ideals. Tugging at our societal expectations, given the cultural differences, Dodo thrives in mining commonalities and making connections that transcend language and nation.
Born 1983 in Portland, OR
JJ BRINE was born “Baby Torres” on November 8th, 1983. Hours later, the baby was adopted and a new birth certificate was issued for “Jonathan Friel.” Currently working under the creative moniker JJ BRINE, you may know JJ as the creative mastermind behind Vector Gallery, the flashy storefront full of glittering detritus you located on Grand St. in East Williamsburg area. Near the hipster strip club PUMPS, and where many artists keep studio space, the space reads like a candy-bloated astral projection complete with rebranded addicts and signage like “God is the Mother of God” and “we are all Satan.” Strewn with crosses and flashing lights that either bash your nervous system, or reboot it altogether… to top it off www.myspace.com is on the wall in vinyl letters, as if to tether you back to some kind of temporal source amidst the stormy seas of your capsized spirit URL. For creator JJ, Art is a matter of religion, and religion is a matter of Art. When asked what medium JJ works in, the artist answered simply “World events.” As an artist, JJ often feels constrained by “the narrative constraints of being in one body at a time,” and uses the pronoun “they” or “their.” What is their work about? It’s about itself. And JJ is working on becoming more beautiful at the moment. The artist also has plans to open VECTOR 6.0, another branch of their magical gallery operation, in Harlem come Fall.
Born 1990 in Brooklyn, New York City
Aissata Richards has always been an artist at heart. She feels that art brings peace and equality and is the optimal way to “express the revolution to the new generation.” A creator, film maker and teaching artist with Truce Media and Arts and Film Society of Lincoln Center, much of her work takes the form of dance videos cataloging street-style dance. Her company BELLE BY AIS is a platform which brings “beauty to street culture. It is a great way for the youth to connect with their culture.” Like many artists, funding continues to be a consistent challenge, and the proper equipment needed to make her work is not cheap. She is currently in London working on a dance street-style series featuring a variety of styles. This work brings light to the street dance movement London, which is mainly an Afro-beats dance culture. Up next, she’ll be traveling abroad working as a teaching artist with non-profits and giving inspirational speeches. Everything takes hard work but she’s willing to keep showing up. She is also interested in creating some sort of platform where dancers can present their work and tell their stories in an organized forum.
Follow her on Instagram @bellebyais
Born 1997 in Bronx, New York
Pauli Cakes didn’t become an artist, they was born one. “Art is something I naturally gravitated to as a way to cope with the world and an outlet for self-expression…It’s something that developed as a gift in my core.” From a young age, they possessed a powerful imagination that enabled they to see the world differently. As a child, they had a speech impediment and grew up in a hectic household that caused the artist to negate their own creative gifts. Eventually, they would recover them and as Pauli says, “I had a lot of content to work with and a lot of trauma to extract art from.” Working in their own plethora of mediums, one might see them engaged in all-encompassing performance art, illustration, collage, or digital art. Themes that continually take the stage in their work include life, death, sex, love, transmutation of pain and alchemy. No singular framework can define their multifaceted practice. Challenges come up at times around insuring their artistic integrity is respected and their labor is valued: “Assuring I am paid for my work and taken seriously, especially as a queer identifying femme with no secondary educational background.” Balancing so many projects across disciplines and time-management can be a challenge as well. “My whole life feels like an imitation of art visa-versa. I love playing with provocation and overt sexuality, especially when it comes to my performances and looks.” When Pauli is not spinning poison into gold, they has many side jobs. Their day gig at Gothic Renaissance on 11th street, one of the last remaining alternative goth/punk shops in the city, holds them down. Meanwhile, they moonlights as a DJ, nightlife host, performer and event curator. Look out for *Club Cakes* queer-centric underground events in Brooklyn & NYC. Pauli’s also doing a residency at Spectrum (@the_spectrum_bk), where they’ll be playing opening sets until the end of the summer.
Follow Cakes on Instragram @pauli.cakes & their curatorial platform @clubcakes
Born 1900 in Sargodha, Pakistan
Qinza became an artist to “fuck up the current status quo where some of the practices are happening as if we are still living in the 18th century.” She is an advocate of marginalized people (especially women) and an artist asking the difficult questions, urging her audience to do the same. For one of her recent anti-gun violence projects #NoHonorInKilling, the artist collected bullets from NYC shooting ranges and created a bullet headdress to question the practice of “honor killing” that affects thousands of women in South Asia and Pakistan each year, as well as the many school shootings that have plagued the U.S. Concept often plays a large role in shaping the medium of the work. Performance and painting are her signatures, while she dabbles in video and installation at times. Figures in her work are often stretched, deconstructed, distorted or pushed beyond their limits. Her paintings on Persian carpets and work with found objects are some of her most characteristic. “I am interested in the body as both medium and subject—the circumstances surrounding its physical occupation of space, the norms and laws that govern bodies as political subjects, and the uneven burden these norms often place on women and minorities.” Drawing from her upbringing in Lahore, Pakistan and migration to the U.S. in adulthood, her performance interrogates gender, politics and cultural power in relationship to geography and society. In this way, her work naturally combats cultural stereotypes, prejudice, Islamophobia, and racist and sexist norms. And despite these challenges, moving more deeply to the core of Qinza’s work we find a precious ode to the human capacity for transformation, generosity and acceptance. Qinza works out of her studio in Hells Kitchen which doubles as a space for artistic collaboration, community and dialogue called Prime Produce. Her body of work is growing and she’s ready for her first NYC solo exhibition. Meanwhile, she’s preparing for her solo in Pakistan, where her work is underexposed, and following that a solo show in Dubai. Creatively, she’s making new work traversing the territory of gender, sexuality and desire.
Follow her on Instagram @Qinza1
Born 1965 in Santiago de Chile
Carlos initially studied Art Direction, a career more focused on publicity, in his native Santiago, Chile. Right out of school the urge to become an artist, in particular a photographer, took hold. “Why [copy] objects with a pencil when I can do it perfectly with a camera?¨ the artist asked himself one day while drawing in the design studio. The camera would soon become his main medium. Years of world travel in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Pakistan, India, Haiti, South Africa and Mexico, the list goes on, helped to fortify the story Villalon would come to tell with his art practice. Today, his work explores the nature of our times in relationship to Coca – both sacred plant and Cocaine (including the nearly 50-year-long failed war on drugs.) “Certain plants can heal or destroy men, depending on the use you give them,” explains Villalon. “I think is important to let people know about these issues, so later on they can make wise decisions regarding these themes.” This body of work includes photographs he has shot in the regions of The Americas, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico and The United States. Some of his greatest artistic challenges arise in the presentation of his work; for instance, foregrounding his personal vision and visual statemq1ent in a way that can be truly received by viewers and the communities these issues affect. He is now in the midst of printing a book called “Coca The Lost War,” a collection of some 16 years worth of work. The book’s implicit message is this: “Coca plants are sacred to many in the Americas, but also they render Cocaine, a powerful drug that changes the lives of people for good or bad… the war on drugs is lost and we need to come up with alternatives to create a world with safer drug control assumed by the states across the world.” He’s nearly a quarter of the way in crowd-funding this project, and you can get involved here. Moving forward, he’s planning to retake on another long-term initiative focused on the immigration issues surrounding the Darien gap, “the infamous Colombian, Panamanian border where thousands of immigrants from Africa, South East Asia and Latin America go every year in order to cross from South America to Central America and then keep on towards the USA.” In telling this story visually with photography, Carlos is able to bring attention to a place that for many resembles a type of hell, where hopeful migrants fall prey to swamps swarmed with mosquitoes and armed drug trafficking groups.
Follow him on Instagram @villalonsantamaria
Born 1977 in New York City
Leopold Krist became an artist because “I am a stubborn hedonist and creating is my highest form of pleasure.” In recent years, he worked primarily in book and experimental filmmaking. Krist was a featured performer at our recent Art 511 3-day flash exhibition in Chelsea: EMINENT DOMAIN. His work makes broad over-generalizations about queer existence and uses text “to map out the interiority of the transgender experience.” Krist often works in libraries and coffee shops and finds that aside from economic survival, social obstacles and general lack of support for artists pose grave challenges to his practice. Currently, the artist is working on a digital photo-book called The Migratory Patterns of North American Queers at the Turn of the Century. Moving forward, Krist aims to find an affordable studio space and keep writing.
Born 1992 New York City
“The sensitivity that I contain can only be best expressed through making art. Making art is like inhaling and exhaling for me. If I can’t make work, it becomes very hard for me to feel grounded and sane. I truly love making art and it’s my life’s passion,” says Claire Christerson, a native New Yorker and prolific maker of drawings, paintings, sculpture, costume and video. Her work explores the intersection of melancholy, joy, pain and love. “I use my work as a tool to understand myself and to find the poetry in life.” Often prone to the fantastical, Christerson harnesses fantasy as a way of addressing difficult emotions. By leaning on alternative realities, she finds it easier to stay safely rooted in this one. She works from home, and sometimes finds it difficult to truly manage all of the various ideas and projects that engage her. Journaling is another important tool, and a place where Claire can write down ideas that will be fleshed out later. She also longs for a studio space where she can make larger works. “My last challenge is something that I feel I have grown with and learned to move through and that’s making sure that the work I am making is for me and no one else.” Currently, she’s busy finishing up her solo show “Night Shade,” which opens in Toronto at Little Sister Gallery this September, consisting of drawings, sculptures, costumes, sound installation and a book. The sound installation is by Sarah Kinlaw. Meanwhile, Christerson is also working on a series of 2-D Stop-motion animations, as well as a few other book projects.
Born 1992 in New York, New York
“I became an artist because I was always attracted to creating things,” says Castillo, who made a splash with her hanging textile and audio installation proclaiming “Pussy Power” during Art 511’s EMINENT DOMAIN exhibition in Chelsea. As a child, she felt surrounded by art, everything from her mother’s crafting and calligraphy, her uncle’s illustrations and the clothing her great grandmother made for the whole family. “We were a family that made things.” Meanwhile, growing up in Manhattan, Stephanie was exposed to a wide array of contemporary art and top notch art education from a young age. Although she has explored many mediums over the years, she has a deep love for painting, particularly in oil — “My best stress reliever.” Her work is often personal and transpersonal: “It’s important as women to remind each other of our human experiences, and stop apologizing for being women,” remarks Castillo. A female figure/spirit is a reoccurring theme in her work and not only that, one of her missions is to bring to light the unseen in our culture. She currently works from her apartment, and also enjoys backyards and parks. She is always working on a million projects, and at the moment is occupied with painting on clothing, political collages, a triptych of wild female cats, and painting the Fatboy Hair Factory’s backyard. Obtaining the financial support to keep making her work is a great challenge. She’s open to collaborating visually with more like-minded artists and wants to teach herself how to sew.