With spring break and warmer weather on the horizons, families will likely be out and about this weekend enjoying a holiday Easter egg hunt or not-freezing seasonal walk. If you’ve been following local artist Steve Wasterval, you know that a different kind of community egg hunt has been going on for years. Steve’s “mini-paintings” depict scenes from the neighborhood, which he then peppers around Greenpoint for passersby (and those tipped off on his VIP list) to scout out and take home — for free.
We caught up with the longtime resident whose Instagram bio says it all: he’s “that Greenpoint artist.”
We chatted a few years ago about your work, particularly what it means to paint an ever-evolving neighborhood which, for better or for worse, provides much inspiration. Catch us up: How have you been during this time?
Oh man “this time”… lots of existential crises, which I welcome, but luckily all my family is healthy and people still make and love art. Those must be the things I care about most. New York is cool too. If you’re still here, you love New York.
Your pieces are so fun, vibrant, and evocative: they so winningly capture the essence of each of their subjects via your energetic strokes. How would you describe your style?
I like the way you described it! “Essence, energetic, fun, vibrant, and evocative”… just like New York, nailed it. And am I supposed to credit you if I say this now? Actually, I might anyway, it sounds even better than me saying it: “My work has best been described as energetically evocative by Billy McEntee, Art Editor of Greenpointers. Now that sounds like a style to me!
Ha! So you’re back to dropping some Easter eggs around the neighborhood. Can you discuss the origins of the mini-hunt?
I love graffiti, street art, stickers, all public art. So for a long time, I wanted to do it too, but those weren’t my mediums and I wasn’t risking jail time! That’s why those guys and gals that do it are gladiators. So my genius partner Pia Silva and I came up with the idea of traditional paintings, on the street. “Fine” art that fans and art lovers (or even just those that love their neighborhood or borough) could go out and find, for free, and own, take home and hang on their wall. I’ve been hiding them every other weekend for about two years, but with breaks, most recently because of lockdown.
Why and when did you bring the hunt back? What’s something you learned from the first go-around?
I think it was October 2020. I remember seeing more people outside, the weather was still good, businesses were reopening, and there was a palpable urge to go out. Anywhere. To do anything. The information was saying outside wasn’t so dangerous with social distancing and such. I noticed us all wanting and trying to do whatever was available to do outdoors. That’s when the mini-hunt not only felt safe to resume, it seemed important.
Any hints you can give about future hiding spots?
For my VIPs, who know, the minis have always been a very Greenpoint thing and even more near-my-studio thing. So the hint is that I will be expanding my territory with each following hunt. Starting with the most-requested, not yet painted Greenpoint spots like Eagle, India, McGuiness, McGorlick, but in no particular order. Sorry! Can’t give it all away. Then I’ll go past McCarren park all the way into Williamsburg, to the bridge, and so on…
Very fun. Anything else to add?
Yes. No mini-painting has ever been sold by me or commissioned. Ever. They can only be found. So if you live in the Greenpoint-Williamsburg area and want any chance of ever finding one of your own, you have to be on my VIP list. In two years of hunting, only VIPs have ever found my mini-paintings. If you’re not already on the list, go to my website and join the hunt.