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La Rosa Negra takes Hania “The Howling Huntress” by the hair.La Rosa Negra takes Hania “The Howling Huntress” by the hair. All photos by Chris Ragalie.

Certainly women have wrestled in Brooklyn before, but not like this. On a balmy night in May wrestling fans packed the Ludus Wrestling Center to see history being made at VALKYRIE, the first professional women’s wrestling event in New York City. With female wrestling banned throughout the city for fifty years until 1972, it’s taken a while for female wrestlers to catch up to their male counterparts. VALKYRIE aimed to showcase the sport in a serious, competitive atmosphere the likes of WWE.

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Image by Liz Ligon Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.  An arrangement of photographs taken by Martha Cooper. Image by Liz Ligon Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.
Life-size photograph of graffiti artist Dondi taken by Martha Cooper. Photographs of subways covered in graffiti taken by Henry Chalfant displayed along the walls in the City As Canvas exhibit.

With some exceptions, graffiti often hides in plain sight. But both its creators and the photographers that capture these works of art aren’t always as visible, a pattern the Museum of the City of New York interrupted with its panel discussion last week, On the Front Lines: Graffiti’s Documenters, that brought together photographers featured in the current exhibit City as Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection.  In a delightful presentation, legendary photographers Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, Flint Gennari, and Jon Naar, along with moderator and artist/author Jay J.SON Edlin, shared their images documenting graffiti writing in the 1970s and 1980s. Their stories gave us a glimpse of some of their earliest experiences photographing the graffiti culture.

Graffiti Kids, photograph by Jon Naar, 1973. ©Jon Naar   Photographer Jon Naar documented New York’s graffiti art movement in 1970s and ’80s including artists, such as the pictured kids, posing with their work. Graffiti Kids, photograph by Jon Naar, 1973.
Photographer Jon Naar documented New York’s graffiti art movement in 1970s and ’80s including artists, such as the pictured kids, posing with their work.

What isn’t immediately noticed in photographs of graffiti is the intimate relationship between photographers and graffiti artists. The photographers befriended and promoted the young graffiti artists at a time when the art movement was highly controversial and had very little support.  Jon Naar described meeting writers for the first time and realizing they were just young children. He remembered feeling surprised, but not frightened as he shot his iconic photograph, Graffiti Kids (above), and discussed their resilience in finding ways to survive and thrive in very neglected neighborhoods in the city.

One of the photographs included in the presentation by Henry Chalfant. The photographers would often have kids seeking  them out to photograph new work on trains. One of the photographs included in the presentation by Henry Chalfant. The photographers would often have kids seeking them out to photograph new work on trains. In this photo, we see Henry’s shadow as he photographs a direct message from a writer.

The photographers further explained how over time, their relationship with the writers became collaborative. Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper famously had writers calling them about their newest work on trains. As photographers favored certain train lines because of features like lighting, background, and location, eventually writers would gravitate towards those spots too. Young artists would “bomb” specific train lines because they were more likely to be photographed.

One of the photographs included in the presentation by Flint. A writer himself as well as a photographer, Flint's work offers rare glimpses into the graffiti culture of that time, such as this image of a writer tagging inside a subway car. A photograph presented by Flint.

For Flint Gennari, the relationship between writer and photographer was even more intimate. He was writer as well as a photographer, documenting his peers and friends.  Flint’s work offers a rare glimpse into the graffiti culture of that time, such as this image (above) of a writer tagging inside a subway car.

Redbird (Stay High 149) photograph by Jon Naar, 1973.©Jon Naar Photographer Jon Naar documented New York’s graffiti art movement in 1970s and ’80s including landscape images of graffiti-covered subway trains rumbling through the city. This particular photograph is of a train painted by STAY HIGH 149, a pioneer in the writing movement.  Redbird (Stay High 149), photograph by Jon Naar, 1973.
Photographer Jon Naar documented New York’s graffiti art movement in 1970s and ’80s including landscape images of graffiti-covered subway trains rumbling through the city. This particular photograph is of a train painted by STAY HIGH 149, a pioneer in the writing movement.

Since we first interviewed the curator and met some of the artists , we have seen City As Canvas take on a life of it’s own through excellent public programs.  What makes these programs special is that they offer the public a rare opportunity to meet and interact with some of the earliest graffiti artists in New York City and their documenting photographers.  The book signing and reception after the presentation gave guests plenty of time to mingle.

The photographers who documented New York’s graffiti art movement in 1970s and ’80s posing with their work, remind us of their muses, the Graffiti Kids.  Pictured: curator Sean Corcoran, Jay Edlin, Martha Cooper, Jon Naar, and Henry Chalfant. Pictured: curator Sean Corcoran, Jay Edlin, Martha Cooper, Jon Naar, and Henry Chalfant.
The photographers who documented New York’s graffiti art movement in 1970s and ’80s posing with their work, remind us of their muses, the Graffiti Kids.

The next public program in this series, Graffiti (R)Evolution: Graphic Design and Fine Art, is coming up on Wednesday, July 9 at 6:30 p.m. Join Cey Adams, founding creative director of Def Jam Recordings, and accomplished collage artist Greg Lamarches for a conversation moderated by graffiti artist Dave “Chino” Villorente on the evolution of graffiti from illicit underground movement to international force in the contemporary arts.

And, if you are looking for some kid-friendly Untapped events, be sure to check out the awesome family programs at MCNY.

What makes these programs special is that they offer the public a rare opportunity to meet and interact with some of the earliest graffiti artists in New York City and the documenting photographers. What makes these programs special is that they offer the public a rare opportunity to meet and interact with some of the earliest graffiti artists in New York City and the documenting photographers.

Take note, the exhibition has been extended and will be on view until Monday, September 1, 2014.

Get in touch with the author at Rachel Fawn Alban  and follow her on instagram.

14152634651_8b3de6ddda_zImage via Flickr

Don’t let New York City’s bright lights fool you: it is possible to see the stars even in an illuminated city like this if you know where to look. One such vantage point is Columbia University’s Rutherfurd Observatory, where, on every other Friday night, the Columbia Astronomy Public Outreach series allows New Yorkers to peek through the smog while standing on a piece of science history.

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Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 10.11.04 AMImage via Luna Park NYC Flickr

Here is your weekly curated events guide for this week.

Monday, June 23rd

Make your way to Brooklyn Brewery in Greenpoint for “Big Chill,” an event featuring cold bites and colder beers. Menu items include cold borscht shots, chicken liver terrine, and ice cream sandwiches — all paired with Brooklyn Brewery beers and ales. This event is from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and a ticket is required.  (more…)

Our exclusive Untapped Cities Woolworth tour has been so popular, we’re offering more chances to check out the off-limits building this summer. Although our July 17th tour is sold out, our Saturday August 23rd tour has just gone on-sale today. This intimate, hour-long tour is led by Jason Crowley, a preservationist and architectural historian who is working to digitize and catalogue the New York Historical Society’s extensive collection of Woolworth Building archives.

Jason will lead us across the street to City Hall Park where we’ll examine the highly ornamented exterior of what was once the tallest building in the world. After discussing the Woolworth’s crucial importance to the development of the skyscraper and the New York City skyline, Jason will take us into the lobby, where he’ll share commentary on the vaulted ceilings and sculptural details, and into the bank vaults of the basement.

Following the tour, there will be an optional cocktail hour at Fraunces Tavern. While you mingle with other members of the Untapped community. Buy tickets here:

Tour has limited capacity. Tickets available for tour only, tour and cocktail-hour Q&A, or cocktail-hour Q&A only.

Chelsea Music Festival General Theological Seminary 2013 NYC Untapped CitiesLast year’s concert at the General Theological Seminary. Photo courtesy of the Chelsea Music Festival.

Untapped Cities is a proud media partner of the Chelsea Music Festival, now in its fifth season. 

The Chelsea Music Festival returns for its fifth season on Friday, June 6th with the opening night gala ushering in nine days of concerts in some of Chelsea’s most unique venues. This year, the festival celebrates German and Brazilian music in honor of some major anniversaries: C. P. E. Bach (300), Richard Strauss (150), and Heitor Villa-Lobos (55). The festival’s motto is “Hear, Taste, See,” and with three culinary artists in residence, three visual artists, and many musicians, the events are sure to engage all the senses.

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