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  • Writer's pictureKristy Calabro

2020: Sold's Year in Review

When we look back at 2020, there are many defining moments that changed the world forever. Future generations will ask, where were you when–you first heard about the pandemic, the lockdown started, you first watched the 8 minute, 46 second video of George Floyd’s death, or when you heard John Lewis or Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed away? Another question is, who were you in 2020–a Covid denier, a "Karen," a mask wearer, a BLM supporter or someone who celebrated the defeat of Donald J. Trump by dancing in the streets?

Maybe you were an artist who shared your views, concerns, and frustrations through your artwork and had a huge social impact during this unforgettable and emotionally turbulent year. Your public art was your protest and your voices were heard louder than ever and we were there showing our support the best way we know how, by documenting it all. This is our photo diary, a visual journal of events that shaped 2020.

Art by @vballentine99 Photo by @kristycnyc

The official lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic started on March 22 when Governor Andrew Cuomo issued the “On PAUSE,” executive, stay-at-home order for the entire state of New York. All non-essential businesses were closed along with creative institutions and the only way to see art was on the streets. Along with this stay-at-home order were new guidelines for all New Yorkers to follow like, wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, practice social distancing and wear face coverings.

If you're an anonymous artist, you've probably been wearing masks before they were mandatory so adding one to your every day attire was no big deal. For some it seemed simple as they are proven to stop the spread of Covid-19, but others felt differently. Anti-maskers came up with every excuse not to wear one. "I have a Doctor's note, I don't want to breathe in my own CO2, my civil liberties are being taken away, it makes me look weak..." Did you ever think a piece of fabric could divide people and become a political issue? Many artists took this as an opportunity to incorporate "masking up" into their art to reinforce that masks do work and they do save lives.

Art by @citykittystreet Photo by @catscoffeecreativity

Art by @winstontseng @pure.genius @tristaneaton @jr @adamfu @7lineartstudio @feltboardfeelings @stikman @lexibellaart @dollfacestreetart @individualactivist @raddingtonfalls @_vewer_ @denisouch @dface_official @soulthundre @mollycrabapple @heartsny @captain_eyeliner @jkosart Photos by @catscoffeecreativity @johannabethpdot @kristycnyc @hadyontheweb @photomaul


The combination of the lockdown, the shutdown of many businesses, and the police slowdown, led to a perfect storm of graffiti, maybe the most we've ever seen in NYC. There was also a bombing blitz on train cars, (check @nyc.graffhead for pics), transforming us back to subway art's good old days of the 1970s.

Hound Snooz Jealous @from_old_school_to_new @its_all_sticky @suckybat #viloe Photos by: @catscoffeecreativity @kristycnyc @photomaul

Art and Photo by @its_all_sticky


Art by @mattadamson @acetates Photo by @joannabethpdot

On May 25th, after the death of George Floyd, protests quickly started mobilizing in Minneapolis and it didn’t take long for other cities across the country and world to join the fight against racial inequality and police brutality. On social media, there was a call for artists to protest peacefully through paint and to have their voices heard in the streets of NYC, specifically SoHo. There’s no one person or organization in charge of this resurgence of art in SoHo, but we’d like to highlight a few key players. Even before the death of George Floyd, the Bowery Mission started the Street Gallery Project: wheatpasting prints of original artwork on boards around SoHo on May 6th. In the weeks that followed, Art2Heart ( focused on messages of love and unity and Soho Social Impact art ( concentrated on political issues and injustices that affect our lives today. TMJ Arts (@tmjartscollective) had their first annual SoHoArtWalks in September, where artists painted on canvases in front of storefronts. In the remaining months of 2020, new plywood went up in preparation for the election results and the painting continued. People saw the value and impact the art was having and several of the plywood murals were stolen which led some artists like The Soho Renaissance Factory to join forces to keep control of their work and keep it safe in a studio space.

Art by: @konartstudio @sulecantcook @light.noise @amirdiop99 @brendantmcnally &

Photos by: @catscoffeecreativity @hadyontheweb @photomaul

The Soho Renaissance Factory is a collective of artists who create art for public good. Kontance Patton, Amir Diop, Brendan T. McNally, Sule, Trevor Croop/Light Noise.The SRF have been a constant presence since the beginning of the SoHo art resurgence. The SRF are currently showing their work at the National Arts Club with the support of Sothebys. Check out for more information.

While the art is SoHo gained a lot of support from the community, some black artists saw backlash and their work was painted over by certain members of the public. This attempt at censorship artistic freedom proves further that we need to keep amplifying and giving their voices a platform and why it’s so important for us to learn from this moment, better ourselves and keep saying loud and proud that, "Black Lives Matter!"

Protest, Plywood and Paint Art in the streets of SoHo, NYC (May 2020-Present.)

The plywood coverings are not barriers or protection for a high-end boutique, but a canvas for creatives to spread their art and messages. During this historic time, we are fortunate to be able to document the power and impact art can have.

Art by @nickckirk @saviorelmundo @erinkostudios @tylerivesnyc @vault49 @urbanrussiandollynyc @emmahaskel @hadleytutton @saralynne.leo

Art by @oricarino @aliceclaire95 @marco.villard@marco.villard @irenakenny.itstartswithadot @steveespopowers @dpfstudio @lenissima_castro @lissa.baur @davidhollier

Art by @dylanegon @pajtim.o @only_the_arts @hadleytutton @saynosleep @jasonnaylor @lovemkm @androidoi

Art by @irenakenny.itstartswithadot @tigerrayy @beelzebaby_ @dister @taylorruffin @hektad._official @captain_eyeliner @lovenotes @koffee_creative @buttsup

@fabioesteban @cattcaulley @july4art @nickckirk @eyeantic @majo_san @art_by_eyebrows @7lineartstudio @dvnny1 @jeffroseking @av_artist @alberto_barreto Photos by @catscoffeecreativity @johannabethpdot @kristycnyc @hadyontheweb @photomaul


"Covid is not the only killer."

"White silence is violence." "Brown allies must protect black lives, too."

Cop car found on Broadway, NYC. Photo by (@catscoffeecreativity)

In 2020, we witnessed a pandemic within a pandemic. A racism pandemic. Black Americans were more likely to get the virus than whites, they experienced higher numbers of unemployment and had to fight the ongoing battle with systemic oppression and racial injustices. George Floyd was found to have anti-bodies, which means he survived the coronavirus only to die at the hands of police. Most protesters felt they had nothing left to lose, "Am I going to let a disease kill me or am I going to let the system?" There's no other choice than to fight for their lives and take it to the streets.

Artists taking it to the streets all across the 5 boroughs of NYC

Art by @theohiogirl @peacheeblue & @crashone painting in Foley Square @nycthrive @artoftijay @iamwetpaint curated by @tatscru. @theartofwillpower @saynosleep @distoart Photos by @joannabethpdot Additional photos by @hadyontheweb

Art by @la_femme_cheri Pic by @hadyontheweb

Art by @raddingtonfalls @praxis_vgz @rabidartwork @albert_diaz1 @jillyballistic@theartofwillpower @la_femme_cheri @projectivity @ladypink @mayahayuk @thesnoeman @fire__flower

@andre_trenier @fumero @steveespopowers @reevilomar @distoart @jchundredsmuralco @vballentine99 @iheartgraffiti @meganewatters @itinplace @wordsonthestreet_ @ken.marcelina @tragedyofthecommons @jasonxcurtisss @theunapologeticstreetseries @winstontseng Photos by @catscoffeecreativity @joannabethpdot @kristycnyc @hadyontheweb


“You must be able and prepared to give until you cannot give any more,” John Lewis said.“We must use our time and our space on this little planet that we call Earth to make a lasting contribution, to leave it a little better than we found it, and now that need is greater than ever before.”

In Memoriam: John Lewis (Cogressman for 33 years, GA) and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Associate Justice of the Supreme Court for 27 years.)

David Barthold and Damien Mitchell Richmond Hood Co Projectivity (photos by @kristycnyc) Captain Eyeliner Muck Rock & @dvnny1 Photo (@kristycnyc) @biancadoesnyc @nycm2 Photo by @catscoffeecreativity

Art by @ellstreetart @lisaprojectnyc Photo by @joannabethpdot

"Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you." - R.B.G.


Adding to the intensity of the year was the Presidential election. Starting November 4th, we waited four excruciating days to find out the results, which felt like 4 years! On, Saturday, November 7th the world collectively realized that Trump would indeed be just a one-term President.

Art by @pure.genius Photo by @joannabethpdot

“We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity. - MLK.


VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! / Political Art

@stickermaul @annalustberg @individualactivist @mylifeinyellow @garylictensteineditions @manaurbanarts #project27 @thevoterparty @ivotebecausecampaign @art_in_general @legionpaper @lifeafterdeathstreet @chromae.s @ronenglish @only_the_arts @captain_eyeliner @janettephoto @davidbarthold @pure.genius @planndelism @sacsix @degrupo @crkshk @butterflymush @theartofwillpower @albertusjoseph @degrupo @eye.sticker @pure.genius @captain_eyeliner @winstontseng @georgecollagi Photos by @catscoffeecreativity @joannabethpdot @kristycnyc @hadyontheweb @photomaul


Ones to Watch in 2021

Urban Russian Doll

If we were handing out awards, Urban Russian Doll @urbanrussiandollnyc would get the prize for the "Artist most likely to succeed during quarantine". From the Spring of 2020 until today, she has hustled harder than almost anyone and has seen her dreams become a reality. It's no wonder her mantra is "Why Wait? Love Now." Life is all about taking risks, following your passion, and not letting an opportunity go to waste. Urban Russian Doll has used her time in 2020 so wisely and has grown so much as an artist. She painted at East Village Walls and various other locations around SoHo, the East Village and the Lower East Side and recently at the Great Wall of Savas in Queens. Are you ready to see what she shares with us next? We don't want to wait, bring on 2021 so we can love us some new art by Urban Russian Doll now!


Steel Fist Velvet Glove

The idiom "Steel Fist Velvet Glove," means gentle, yet determined. Steel Fist Velvet Glove's signature character seems sympathetic and determined and like Basquiat collabed with Dr. Frankenstein. It's relatable with scars and a signature teardrop under its left eye that's also a fractured heart that says, "2020." He worked alongside 7 Line Art Studio this year in the streets and in the studio. He also made big moves, like wheatpasting on the Bowery Wall! That was a street art highlight of 2020, so what else does he have up his sleeve or in his glove? We anticipate great things from @steelfistvelvetglove in 2021.


One Rad Latina

In a recent interview, @oneradlatina said, "Give a voice to the voiceless and don’t ever silence yourself… Once you have a space for yourself, make a space for others like you.” We first noticed her work in Bushwick, then SoHo and she also painted at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library at the NYPL in Midtown. She uses her Instagram for art, but also as a platform to bring awareness to issues like suicide prevention, domestic violence, frontline workers, the pandemic and masking up. We could use more voices like hers, but there can be only One Rad Latina. We will continue to follow along and see what this native New Yorker bring to the streets in 2021.


Fire Flower

Bringing a little heat to the streets, but with softness and beauty, is Fire Flower. We are drawn to her work like a moth to a flame. The spray painted pasteups are so unique and vibrant and a little mysterious. The ombre progression of colors come together beautifully and leaves the viewer with calming and warm feelings. In @fire__flower's recent piece, "BeeLove," she says, don't be afraid of bees because they bring "Peace, Progress, Success, Brightness, Personal Power, and Community," all things we wish for in the new year. We hope she shares more light and love in 2021.


Eye Sticker

Eye Sticker in known for spreading pink eye (the fun kind) in the form of stickers and pastes and incorporate pop culture icons from the 80s and 90s into their art. @eye.sticker also gets political and liked to troll Trump, by turning him in to an actual troll! Eye Sticker has also made some of the boldest moves this year by pasting on the door of a public NYC restroom on Allen St. and under the BQE in Williamsburg. Keep spreading that sweet eye candy art around and we will keep watching what you bring to the streets in the new year.



So you're walking down the street feeling down and depressed, (which for most was probably every day in 2020) and you come across hearts with perfectly positive messages like, "Kidness matters, You are stronger than you think, You don't have to be perfect, to be amazing, What makes you different, makes you beautiful." @heartsny hits you with just the right vibe and messages that make you feel like everything is going to be okay. When you can change a feeling or an attitude for the better, then that's a pretty powerful thing! Keep spreading those heartfelt and uplifting words of wisdom in 2021!


Here's a collection of artists whose work we've admired or gave us a much need distraction this year. We may be missing a few, but know that if you are a part of this NYC art family, you are much appreciate for your hard work and for sharing it with all of us in the streets. We also highlight those who document public art and who've contributed to this " 2020 Year in Review." As a photographer, you're an artist too and an integral part of this community. Thanks go out to @catscoffeecreativity @joannabethpdot @hadyontheweb and @photomaul.

Art by: @caryncast @surfaceofbeauty @lmnopimaize @joeiurato @loganhicks @hecksign @kloart_@7lineartstudio @zeroproductivity @chrisrwk @0h10m1ke @marzipanphysics @butterflymush @jl131 @jimtozzi @theohiogirl @saynosleep @futuradosmil @billy.barnacles @antennae @mattsiren @faileart


We're almost ready to say goodbye to 2020 and if you're reading this, congratulations, you survived! This year we also saw a record breaking number of natural disasters including wildfires, hurricanes and droughts. Our planet and our health should be two very important issues to focus on going forward. In the middle of all the chaos and tragedy, through a pandemic, protests, and climate issues, we focus on the best of humanity. We want to thank the first responders, doctors, nurses; the entire healthcare industry. Scientists, researchers, teachers, tutors, janitors, all the essential workers, we are so grateful for all that you do and for all your sacrifices.

What will we take from the experiences we went through this year? How will we make ourselves and the world better? We have to keep listening, be a supporter, educate ourselves, learn from the past and help each other build a better future. From all of us at Sold, we say," Peace out, 2020, it's been real, but we're ready for a fresh start. Here's to better days ahead in 2021!


Messages of Love, Hope, and Faith

@frank_ape @erichazenyc @littlericky001 @captain_eyeliner @art_by_eyebrows @queenandreaone @sinclairthevandal @thepostman_art @broken_hartist @nickwalker_art @blackligma @urbanrussiandollnyc @tekstthc @projectivity @heartsny@phoebenewyork @stickermaul @saralynne.leo @albert_diaz1 @jasonnaylor @jeffbeler @mylifein.yellow @winslowworld


"And now these 3 remain: Faith, Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is...LOVE."

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