Living in New York City, there are many opportunities to go see Graffiti/Street Art openings. Every week there seem to be 100 different galleries having openings in NYC, and sometimes it is difficult to pick which one to go to and Instagram your heart out. This weekend the choice was obvious, as Pandemic Gallery had their second show since moving from Williamsburg to a warehouse by the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Chris “Daze” Ellis, in front of a site specific painting done for the exhibition
The Museum of City of New York’s upcoming City as Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection, is the first exhibition of the 1970s and ’80s graffiti art amassed by artist and pioneering collector Martin Wong. The exhibition, which opens Tuesday February 4, features important paintings and “black book” drawings by some of the earliest graffiti artists in New York City, including DONDI, DAZE, FUTURA 2000, Keith Haring, LA2, LADY PINK, LEE, SHARP, ZEPHYR, and many more. We had a chance to preview the exhibit and meet some of the artists.
Lady Pink, Death of Graffiti, acrylic on masonite, 1982.
The Museum of City of New York’s upcoming City as Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection, is the first exhibition of the 1970s and ’80s graffiti art amassed by artist and pioneering collector Martin Wong. The exhibition features important paintings and “black book” drawings by some of the earliest graffiti artists in New York City, including DONDI, DAZE, FUTURA 2000, Keith Haring, LA2, LADY PINK, LEE, SHARP, ZEPHYR, and many more. We recently had a chance to chat with Sean Corcoran, who curated the upcoming exhibition.
Untapped Cities: Tell us a little bit about the artwork in the exhibit.
Sean Corcoran: The exhibition will have about 130 objects from the collection. There will be a combination of works on canvas, works on paper, blackbook drawings, photographs and other media. There is even a painting on a refrigerator door by an artist named Quik!
With the whitewashing of 5Pointz in November, the curators are looking towards the future. While many hope that 5Pointz will rebuild elsewhere, one small consolation is that the artists at the graffiti mecca have taken back to the streets of New York. Curator Meres One has been making new pieces in Nolita and Astoria. “We have lost a building but we can’t be stopped–free art for the people!!” a 5Pointz tweet proclaimed on December 23rd.
Here at Untapped Cities, we’ve rounded up 5 other graffiti hotspots in New York City to take in street art while 5Pointz goes through this period of transition.
A project by the arts group Ad Hoc Art, it is interesting to note that the stunning murals at Welling Court came about because the neighborhood’s community was looking for ways “to spruce up the neighborhood” in 2009, and street art was the option they chose. The diversity and eclectic nature of this neighborhood has been reflected in the brilliant and absolutely unique works of art that are now showcased here. In the four years that Ad Hoc Art has been working here, more than 58 artists from around the world have left their mark in this Western Astoria locality.
Long before the whitewashing of 5Pointz, communities in New York City took a stand to preserve and encourage street art. One of the best examples of this can be found in East Harlem at The Graffiti Hall of Fame in the playground of the Jackie Robinson Educational Complex. Founded in 1980 by a local community activist, the purpose of The Graffiti Hall of Fame was to give graffiti artists a permanent place to hone their skills in a safe and open environment. It has evolved to become an internationally known destination for the Who’s Who in graffiti, and this past July they celebrated their 30th anniversary in grand style.
The 200 foot long mural along a warehouse on Drake Street has become a graffiti mecca, run by TATS Cru. According to TheNew York Times, the owner of the building asked the street art crew to “recruit good artists to keep the bad artists (or just scribbling vandals) at bay.”
Bushwick is one of NYC’s major street art hubs, with an outdoor art gallery known as the Bushwick Collective. Over the past two years, Joe Ficalora, a Bushwick native, has taken the lead as the Bushwick Collective’s curator. Ficalora told the New York Times that commissioning these murals is a way to help him reclaim a neighborhood full of painful memories, including his father’s murder in 1991 and his mother’s recent death. He simply began googling street artists and inviting them to come paint. Business owners donate their wall space and the artists contribute their time and pay for their own supplies.
Today there are over fifty murals lining the buildings on Troutman Street and that number is constantly growing. We’re taking you on a street art tour beginning on Jefferson Street, up Wyckoff Avenue and continuing on Troutman Street towards Saint Nicholas Avenue.
5. Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Williamsbug might have gotten all trendy over the last decade, but its roots in the street art scene are still alive. Walk along Bedford and peer onto the intersecting streets. You’ll see a mix of spontaneous and commissioned murals (even some commercial brands mimicking wheat paste for ads). On North 8th right now you can find Marilyn Monroe by The Art of Chase (entitled “Geezer Monroe”), a piece by the Queens crew Smart Crew and other pieces. Groundswell has a mural on North 7th made in partnership with local teens. Nick Kuszyk of RROBOTS has a piece at The Bagel Store on North 3rd. And don’t miss the fun pieces as you get closer to the Williamsburg Bridge and Broadway in South Williamsburg.
Martin Wong, an East Village artist and collector of graffiti art, amassed a significant body of street art which included works by Keith Haring, Lee Quiñones, LADY PINK, FUTURA 2000, Dondi, Christopher “Daze” Ellis, and more. The Museum of City of New York exhibition City as Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection, which opens on February 4th, is showcasing Wong’s massive collection, beginning with photographs of graffiti writing long lost in New York City’s subways and on buildings.