During last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, Snoeman teamed with fellow artist Maya Hayuk to paint protest posters. Working from the rooftop of her Brooklyn studio, the pair created and distributed large quantities of the colorful signs, tossing them down to passersby. “It was gratifying to contribute our art to something so important, and for others to be able to express themselves through our art,” says Snoeman, who in past months began affixing hand-painted posters around the city with messages like “spread love” and “do the right thing.” “I have continued making posters and have been posting them in the street,” he adds. “Same purpose, different delivery.”
One of his protest posters ended up in the hands of gallery owner David Weiswasser. Last summer, Weiswasser — an entertainment marketing director and art collector — opened N.53 gallery just off Main Street in East Hampton. The new gallery is dedicated to showcasing artists in the street art and graffiti ecosystem, including the late hip-hop photographer Ricky Powell, graffiti pioneer Stash, and Paul Sevigny. In April, Weiswasser reached out to Snoeman — part of the creative collective Smart Crew, which includes rapper Action Bronson — about linking up for a solo show. “New York Love” opened May 28 and will close June 28.
“It exposes my work to a whole different audience of people,” says Snoeman of bringing his work to East Hampton for the first time. “The reactions have been very positive. Everyone can relate to the subject matter in one way or another, and people love the bright colors. There are also interactive installations for taking photos, which has been fun.”
One of those installations is an ice cream cart; the artist has painted carts for local street vendors in Washington Heights for the past few summers. Earlier in June, the gallery hosted an ice cream social from inside the gallery. “The only local ice cream joint [in town] closed. So this was the perfect opportunity to do something fun,” the artist says.
His work on view at the gallery will be familiar to anyone who’s walked a New York block. His portraits of city life focus on bodega storefronts, along with the resulting ephemera: overstuffed trash cans, lottery tickets. “These paintings were inspired by real places throughout New York, like ‘188 Bakery Cuchifritos,’ which is an iconic Puerto Rican restaurant in The Bronx,” he says. His newest work, created in the past few months as part of an artist residency at a vacant school in Harlem (which allowed him to work indoors and scale down from murals and up from smaller illustrations), incorporates subtle details that reflect the circumstances of the past year. “The way the subjects are depicted hasn’t changed much, aside from new signage about COVID-19 regulations on every storefront, which I included in the new work. The past year has also reinforced how important these small businesses are to the city and the world.”
With his first solo gallery show closing, Snoeman has turned his attention to future projects: brand collaborations and private commissions, and the next edition of ambitious traveling street art exhibition “Beyond the Streets.”
“Besides that, I will be doing lots of art in the streets this summer: posters, murals, ice carts, whatever I can,” he adds. “That is what summer is about for me.”
MORE FROM THE EYE: