Before street art began party-crashing the blue chip galleries, Cern (aka CernOne, aka Cernesto) was a local tagger of subway cars and brick walls.

His meditative, playful murals still grace walls (and a few regular delivery trucks) around Greenpoint and Williamsburg, the latter where Cern has kept a studio since the late ’90s. Those were the days before gentrification, when Williamsburg was transforming from run-down immigrant neighborhood to DIY mecca.

Tonight (June 20, 2015), the artist will hop over the Pulaski Bridge, from Greenpoint into Long Island City, where his work will be shown in a solo exhibition at 26-19 Jackson Avenue, Queens. What to expect?

Small versions of Cern’s street work, I suppose. Like many graffitists, the artist has done design work, branding, and legal murals for-hire. His private oeuvre differs little from his commercial work, however. Girls are mostly painted in the Japanese anime style, often wearing distinct hipster glasses and speckled in neon colors. Surrounded by fantasias of foliage, clocks, and cute animals, the work is vibrant and meditatively youthful. Subtle modulations between the real and the imaginative give the characters an almost trance-like aura

Yet a melancholy hangs in the air (and in the subjects’ eyes), as if Cern’s contemporary goddesses and sphinxes await, almost expect, the interruption of their oneiric thoughts by unforeseen cruelties… beyond the wall. (Brian Chidester)

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