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Staten Island Artists Spotlight: Jahtiek Long, Katinka, and Nikki Bacas

Back in April, Richmond City Media visited the 11th Annual St. George Day Festival. Organized by Everything Goes Bookstore and CATPAW, the volunteer-based event gave the community a day filled with music, art, food, and Earth Day celebrations.

One of highlights of the festival was the Art Around the Park Fence Show. Curated by artist Jahtiek Long, the Fence Show featured work from several different Staten Island artists, including Long’s own work.

Long draws his inspiration from the concept of line weight, a technique he learned while attending a pre-college art program at Cooper Union. From there, he began experimenting with different line styles and shapes to develop his unique style.

Some of Long’s signature pieces incorporate vinyls and CD cases, which allows him to combine his love of music with his passion for art.

“I found a bunch of old vinyls underneath an overpass in Grasmere,” said Long. “There were about 200 records, so I just picked whatever ones looked interesting.” Long aims to bring these two relics from the past into the digital era to give them a fresh look for new audiences. You can find more of Jahtiek Long’s artwork on his Facebook page or by following him on Instagram at @mikediexverse.

When organizing the Art Around the Park Fence Show, Long was sure to utilize his network of local artists that he met through other Staten Island art-centric events.

“We’re all too talented to just not utilize everything we have in our circle,” said Long. “Each one of the artists involved has their strengths that they bring to the table. Together we’re just a conglomerate of creativity.”

One of these artists, Katinka, is an acrylic painter who specializes in abstract, “alien” landscapes. Katinka also has synesthesia, a condition in which a person sees colors when they hear different kinds of music.

“I listen to certain music and it evokes certain emotions and colors,” said Katinka. “Each painting has different music attached to it.”

Katinka has been painting her entire life, but stopped for a long time until she experienced a “creative unlock” earlier this year.

“I was introduced to a lot of good music that got my creative juices flowing again,” said Katinka. Most of this music stems from heavy metal, although one of her pieces was created while she was listening to an early ‘90s freestyle pop song.

All of her work features a series of structures that she refers to as “celestial cathedrals.” According to Katinka, these cathedrals are an expression of the emotions and reactions of sentient beings throughout the universe.

“We are the universe reflecting back at itself,” said Katinka. “Each painting tells a different story.” You can follow Katinka on Instagram at @ravennaknight.

Nikki Bacas, another Fence Show artist, is also inspired by celestial scenery throughout the universe. Her paintings feature nature based landscapes painted over cool colored galactic backgrounds.

“I started doing space paintings after I went through a really traumatic time,” said Bacas. “As I developed that style, it went from being just planets to an outer space landscape. I’ve had people tell me that they want to live in my paintings.”

Bacas draws a lot of inspiration from beloved artist Bob Ross, as well as photographs of natural landscapes. While she doesn’t necessarily copy these photographs, she does look to mimic the “vibe” of each photo within her paintings. When it comes to color selection, it really depends on whatever mood Bacas is in at the moment.

“Most of the time I stick with a lot of cool colors,” said Bacas. “I usually go for a blueish green theme, but I’ve been trying to break out of that and choose warmer colors.” One of Bacas’ warmer colored paintings, which several fence show attendees were fighting to purchase, was created after she made the decision to go back to college.

Bacas and Katinka are teaming up to showcase their galactic works in a show called Area 51. The event, held at Hub 17 on June 14th, will also feature live music and a DJ playing ethereal music sprinkled with David Bowie’s greatest hits. You can follow Nikki on Instagram @nikkidaniellabacas for more of her artwork, as well as Area 51 updates.

The Art Around the Park Fence Show, as well as the upcoming Area 51 show, are two examples of the positive outcomes of artistic support.

“It’s kind of isolating sometimes when you’re an artist,” said Katinka. “Society in general doesn’t encourage you to express emotions and have opinions. When the art community gets together, they encourage expression. Supporting each other and being positive helps us all feel a little more confident and expressive about our work.”

Supporting the arts is not only beneficial for the creative community, but for the Staten Island community as a whole.

“When you don’t get out and see all of the art that takes place on Staten Island, you think it doesn’t exist and you think you live in a void,” said Katinka. “Then you go out and it’s like oh, wait a minute, there’s more to it.”

Stay tuned for more updates from these artists, as well as information on other artists and upcoming shows.

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