New York artist, Danny Cortes, has gained massive acclaim for depicting striking scenes from Hip-Hop & popular culture in miniature form.
For Danny Cortes, his artwork is an homage to the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn that he grew up in and all of the nostalgia that’s associated with it. The miniature collectibles he crafts by hand are a look at “the little things that we pass by every day” from the recreation of the nearby Chinese takeout restaurant Ho May Kitchen to one of his first creations – a white commercial ice box that’s often seen outside delis and bodegas in the city right down to the graffiti on its sides.
“If we take the time to notice we are surrounded by inspiration,” he says on his website.
Other works also include odes to The Notorious B.I.G. and the Wu-Tang Clan. For the 42-year-old artist, what began as a hobby from his childhood became more as the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold in New York City and the rest of the country.
“We are adults, but we never stopped being kids,” Cortes said. “Who doesn’t like toys? Who doesn’t like miniatures?” He began to post his work on social media, which garnered him a lot of attention. That led to a commission by Mass Appeal, the artistic label that has partnered with Hip-Hop legend Nas.
That connection led to Cortes doing a model of a classic boombox radio for the cover of DJ Premier’s EP, Hip Hop 50: Vol. 1. In March of this year, four of his works were sold at a special Sotheby’s auction of Hip-Hop related items with one item selling for $2,200. The aforementioned restaurant replica? It was purchased by Joel Ortiz, for a price of over $10,000 dollars.
“He has really captured the grimy, gritty atmosphere that was the birthplace for a lot of the ’90s style of hip-hop music,” said Monica Lynch, the former head of Tommy Boy Records and a consultant on the Sotheby’s auction.
Cortes is pressing on with his art, aiming to document his beloved Bushwick where “there is a lot of change” occurring. As the neighborhood’s reputation as an artistic haven grows, so do concerns about gentrification having a serious impact. But he sees the changes as a good step. “I think it’s good, I think it’s safer, even though Bushwick is always gonna be Bushwick,” he said. “There are more opportunities.”