Trains

Louie KR.ONE Gasparro kolorstorm book Louie KR.One Gasparro on: DON1, the Production of <em>KOLORSTORM</em>, His Upcoming Exhibit at the Urban Foundation Gallery and more

Born in East Harlem and raised in Astoria, Queens, Louie “KR.One” Gasparro has been sharing his vast creative talents — both as an artist and as musician — with us for decades.  ”Louie was an original,” Sacha Jenkins writes in the introduction to the recently-released KOLORSTORM: The Art of Louie “KR.One” Gasparro. “KR was a master of paint at a time in graffiti when there were more court jesters than kings, more tags and throw ups than masterpieces.”  Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to catch up with the impassioned artist while visiting his studio.

Louie KR.ONE Gasparro with graffiti Louie KR.One Gasparro on: DON1, the Production of <em>KOLORSTORM</em>, His Upcoming Exhibit at the Urban Foundation Gallery and more

It’s been almost three years now since your first book Don1: The King from Queens was launched with a panel discussion at the Museum of the City of New York. How has the response to that book been?

The response has been overwhelming. I put a light on a NYC graffiti master who had been forgotten.  He had influenced so many of us, but was living in obscurity. I was determined to uncover his story and share it with others. I spent nine years doing that. But my persistence paid off.  I had folks from Italy writing to me after the book was released.

Louie KR.ONE Gasparro the lost art of the tag graffiti Louie KR.One Gasparro on: DON1, the Production of <em>KOLORSTORM</em>, His Upcoming Exhibit at the Urban Foundation Gallery and more

And what about your current book? It’s quite impressive! How did that come about?

While working on Don1: The King from QueensI developed a relationship with its publisher, Schiffer Books. And when I proposed a book of my own works, I was encouraged to see it through.

I love the way your new book is organized into distinct chapters on different themes — such as The Early Days, Black Books, Model Trains, Abstracts, Walls and more. There is such an amazing variety of works and styles represented here, as well as a documentation of your journey as an artist — from subway graffiti pieces dating back to the early 80′s to contemporary urban art. How long did it take you to get it all together?

I spent two years working on it.  The greatest challenge was deciding which works to include. Originally, I had 600 images. I then had to cut that down to 400.

Louie KR.ONE Gasparro subway graffiti Martha Cooper Louie KR.One Gasparro on: DON1, the Production of <em>KOLORSTORM</em>, His Upcoming Exhibit at the Urban Foundation Gallery and more

louie gasparro abstract art Louie KR.One Gasparro on: DON1, the Production of <em>KOLORSTORM</em>, His Upcoming Exhibit at the Urban Foundation Gallery and more

Kolorstorm is also an amazing foray into your inspirations and passions.  Can you tell us something about your influences?

There are many. Comic books, cartoons, graffiti art, rock & roll, heavy metal…

Who were some of your favorite musicians back then?

Among them are: Jimi Hendrix, Rush, Yes… For me — and for many of us — graffiti was never related to hip-hop. The connection was largely an illusion that was accepted by many as “fact.” Graffiti transcends all concepts of race, religion, culture and class. That’s what makes it so great.

Louie KR.ONE Gasparro illustration band member Louie KR.One Gasparro on: DON1, the Production of <em>KOLORSTORM</em>, His Upcoming Exhibit at the Urban Foundation Gallery and more

In what ways has your work evolved through the past few years?

The entire process has become easier. My artwork is more detailed, and my line works are better.

Your Abstrakts are on a whole different level! What inspired them?

I was just experimenting with colors and shapes. The Abstrakts evolved from the experimentation. I’ve been told that they are “informed by graffiti.” And so they may be!

Louie KR.ONE Gasparro ART AS AN ANSWER exhibit nyc Louie KR.One Gasparro on: DON1, the Production of <em>KOLORSTORM</em>, His Upcoming Exhibit at the Urban Foundation Gallery and more

What’s ahead?

More art, of course! And opening Saturday (tomorrow) night is Art As An Answer, a one night only pop-up show with new works, presented by The Astoria Boyz and The Urban Foundation Gallery, at 208 East 73rd Street in Manhattan.

Congratulations!  It’s certain to be wonderful!

Images:

1. Cover of KOLORSTORM: The Art of Louie “KR.One” Gasparro, published by Schiffer Books

2. Louie “KR.One” Gasparro in his studio

3Louie “KR.One” Gasparro, The Lost Art of the Tag, True York

4. KR.One and Fome 1, IRT #2 Line, Bronx, 1982, Photo © Martha Cooper

5. Louie “KR.One” Gasparro, Abstract, Greyburst3

6Louie “KR.One” Gasparro, Band Member, Keyboardist

Interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky; images 1, 4, 5 & 7 courtesy of the artist; 2, 3 & 6 photographed by Lois Stavsky in Louie’s studio

Note: Hailed in a range of media from Wide Walls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

en play badge 2 Louie KR.One Gasparro on: DON1, the Production of <em>KOLORSTORM</em>, His Upcoming Exhibit at the Urban Foundation Gallery and more

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taki 183 and cornbread graffiti Riding NYC Subway Trains: Taki 183, Cornbread, Flint, Praxis, Nic 707, Spar One,  Steven Cogle, Gabriel Camacho, Stavro & David Lyman

Nic 707’s InstaFame Phantom Art movement continues to hit the NYC subway trains with classic graffiti along with contemporary urban art. Pictured above are graffiti pioneers: Taki 183 and Cornbread. Here are several more featured on recent rides heading Downtown:

Classic graffiti writer Flint

flint subway art Riding NYC Subway Trains: Taki 183, Cornbread, Flint, Praxis, Nic 707, Spar One,  Steven Cogle, Gabriel Camacho, Stavro & David Lyman

Colombian artist Praxis with a message

Praxis art Riding NYC Subway Trains: Taki 183, Cornbread, Flint, Praxis, Nic 707, Spar One,  Steven Cogle, Gabriel Camacho, Stavro & David Lyman

Veteran writer and founder of the InstaFame Phantom Art Movement Nic 707

nic 707 abstract art Riding NYC Subway Trains: Taki 183, Cornbread, Flint, Praxis, Nic 707, Spar One,  Steven Cogle, Gabriel Camacho, Stavro & David Lyman

Veteran writer Spar One

spar one Riding NYC Subway Trains: Taki 183, Cornbread, Flint, Praxis, Nic 707, Spar One,  Steven Cogle, Gabriel Camacho, Stavro & David Lyman

Steven Cogle and Gabriel Camacho

steve cogle and gabriel camacho art Riding NYC Subway Trains: Taki 183, Cornbread, Flint, Praxis, Nic 707, Spar One,  Steven Cogle, Gabriel Camacho, Stavro & David Lyman

Canadian artist Stavro

matthew stavro subway art Riding NYC Subway Trains: Taki 183, Cornbread, Flint, Praxis, Nic 707, Spar One,  Steven Cogle, Gabriel Camacho, Stavro & David Lyman

Abstract urban artist David Lyman 

david lyman art Riding NYC Subway Trains: Taki 183, Cornbread, Flint, Praxis, Nic 707, Spar One,  Steven Cogle, Gabriel Camacho, Stavro & David Lyman

Photo credits: 1, 5, 6 & 8 Lois Stavsky; 2-4 & 7 courtesy Nic 707

Note: Hailed in a range of media from Wide Walls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

en play badge 2 Riding NYC Subway Trains: Taki 183, Cornbread, Flint, Praxis, Nic 707, Spar One,  Steven Cogle, Gabriel Camacho, Stavro & David Lyman

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rocky184 and kerz graffiti Riding the NYC Subway Trains With Classic Graffiti Writers: Rocky 184, Kerz, Lava, Taki 183, Easy, Slave FAB 5, Ree, Nic 707 and Quik

Nic 707’s InstaFame Phantom Art movement continues to bring dozens of classic writers back into NYC subway trains. Pictured above is Rocky 184 and Kerz. Here are a few more images recently captured while heading from the North Bronx to Midtown Manhattan:

Kerz

KerzNYC graffiti Art subway NYC Riding the NYC Subway Trains With Classic Graffiti Writers: Rocky 184, Kerz, Lava, Taki 183, Easy, Slave FAB 5, Ree, Nic 707 and Quik

Lava

Lava graffiti subway nyc Riding the NYC Subway Trains With Classic Graffiti Writers: Rocky 184, Kerz, Lava, Taki 183, Easy, Slave FAB 5, Ree, Nic 707 and Quik

Taki 183 & Easy

easy and taki 183 graffiti Riding the NYC Subway Trains With Classic Graffiti Writers: Rocky 184, Kerz, Lava, Taki 183, Easy, Slave FAB 5, Ree, Nic 707 and Quik

Slave, FAB 5

slave fab5 NYC subway graffiti Riding the NYC Subway Trains With Classic Graffiti Writers: Rocky 184, Kerz, Lava, Taki 183, Easy, Slave FAB 5, Ree, Nic 707 and Quik

Ree

Ree subway graffiti nyc edited 1 Riding the NYC Subway Trains With Classic Graffiti Writers: Rocky 184, Kerz, Lava, Taki 183, Easy, Slave FAB 5, Ree, Nic 707 and Quik

Nic 707

nic kilroy Riding the NYC Subway Trains With Classic Graffiti Writers: Rocky 184, Kerz, Lava, Taki 183, Easy, Slave FAB 5, Ree, Nic 707 and Quik

And a recent Nic 707 abstract

nic 707 abstract art Riding the NYC Subway Trains With Classic Graffiti Writers: Rocky 184, Kerz, Lava, Taki 183, Easy, Slave FAB 5, Ree, Nic 707 and Quik

Quik

quik graffiti subway train nyc Riding the NYC Subway Trains With Classic Graffiti Writers: Rocky 184, Kerz, Lava, Taki 183, Easy, Slave FAB 5, Ree, Nic 707 and Quik

Photos by Lois Stavsky

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2 new and dia msk graffiti writers Speaking with the Original MSK    Manhattan Subway Kings    in Inwood

I met up with several members of the East Coast – and original – MSK crew while they were painting up in Inwood earlier this year. Among the writers I spoke to were: Kister, its current president; Dia One, MSK’s president back in the 80’s and its legendary former vice president, 2 New. (Note: pictured above is 2 New to the left of Dia One).

When was MSK first founded? And by whom?

It was founded in 1982 by MADE and WASE, along with a few other writers who attended IS 52 — right here in Inwood.

frankizm MSK action graffiti nyc Speaking with the Original MSK    Manhattan Subway Kings    in Inwood

Which trains was MSK hitting back in the day?

Any one nearby – the 1 train, the A, the AA, the C, the CC, the RR and sometimes the D and B.

How were the original MSK crew members regarded back then?

All of us growing up in the Heights and here in Inwood had enormous respect for them.  Everyone knew them and looked up to them.

dia msk graffiti nyc Speaking with the Original MSK    Manhattan Subway Kings    in Inwood

Can you give us a sense of what it was like hitting the trains back then?

We followed a routine. Five or six of us would gather in a friend’s house.  We’d design an outline. Then we’d rack the paint from a local hardware store. And once we had the paint, we’d pick a yard and sneak in.

And once you got into the yard?

We had to worry about gangs, dogs, cops and stepping on the 3rd rail.  Success was getting out alive and taking a photo.

kron graffiti msk nyc Speaking with the Original MSK    Manhattan Subway Kings    in Inwood

Do any particular memories stand out?

When three young MSK guys went to the 145th Street lay-ups and had their cans taken away by members of Jon One’s crew.  We had to retaliate, and we ended up eventually beating the crap out of two of them. The drama only continued, and eventually Jon One left NYC for Paris.

As the train era ended in the late 80’s, what surfaces were MSK’s second and third generation hitting?

Mostly highways, rooftops and handball courts.  And because we had to be fast, we mostly did bombs and throw-ups. We didn’t have time for pieces – except for occasional ones on handball courts.

msk graffiti mural nyc Speaking with the Original MSK    Manhattan Subway Kings    in Inwood

Here you have members of all three generations of MSK working together – painting on a legal wall.

Yes, we do it because it’s fun. It’s our way of celebrating our culture.

And how does painting on a legal spot like this one differ from working illegally?

On a legal space like this, we can take our time and make as many changes as we want as we work. But when we paint on walls like these, we can’t get the adrenalin rush that comes with working illegally. It’s not the same — nowhere close! And we miss it!

Images

1. Dia One and 2 New against mural by Frankizm

2. Frankizm at work on tribute mural to 2 New

3. Dia One at work at night

4. Kron

5. Dia One  — memorial wall first painted in 1992 and redone, at the family’s request, in 2013 — with Flite, Frankizm, Kister, Cel & Nest

Interview & photos by Lois Stavsky

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nether mural art tag project bronx nyc The TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx with: Nether 410, Damien Mitchell, Barlo, Daze, TOZ & BR Flesh Beck Crew, Sole Rebel, Ralph Serrano and Mr. Prvrt with A Visual Bliss

Founded and curated by SinXero, the TAG Public Arts Project – a A 501(c)3 Not for Profit in NY State — continues to bring a wonderfully diverse range of public artworks to the South Central section of the Bronx. Pictured above is a mural recently painted by Baltimore-based artist Nether 410. Here are a few others — fashioned by local, national and international artists — that I came upon this past Friday while exploring the streets on and off Westchester Avenue along the 6 line.

Brooklyn-based Australian artist Damien Mitchell, close-up 

damien mitchell mural art Bronx nyc The TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx with: Nether 410, Damien Mitchell, Barlo, Daze, TOZ & BR Flesh Beck Crew, Sole Rebel, Ralph Serrano and Mr. Prvrt with A Visual Bliss

Hong Kong-based Italian artist Barlo, close-up

barlo street art mural bronx nyc The TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx with: Nether 410, Damien Mitchell, Barlo, Daze, TOZ & BR Flesh Beck Crew, Sole Rebel, Ralph Serrano and Mr. Prvrt with A Visual Bliss

The legendary NYC-based Daze

daze street art mural bronx nyc The TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx with: Nether 410, Damien Mitchell, Barlo, Daze, TOZ & BR Flesh Beck Crew, Sole Rebel, Ralph Serrano and Mr. Prvrt with A Visual Bliss

With Brazilian artists TOZ & BR from the Flesh Beck Crew to his left, close-up

daze and fresh beck crew graffiti mural art Bronx NYC The TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx with: Nether 410, Damien Mitchell, Barlo, Daze, TOZ & BR Flesh Beck Crew, Sole Rebel, Ralph Serrano and Mr. Prvrt with A Visual Bliss

 NYC-based Sole Rebel

sole rebel mural art bronx nyc The TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx with: Nether 410, Damien Mitchell, Barlo, Daze, TOZ & BR Flesh Beck Crew, Sole Rebel, Ralph Serrano and Mr. Prvrt with A Visual Bliss

NYC-based Puerto Rican artist Ralph Serrano

serrano mural art bronx nyc The TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx with: Nether 410, Damien Mitchell, Barlo, Daze, TOZ & BR Flesh Beck Crew, Sole Rebel, Ralph Serrano and Mr. Prvrt with A Visual Bliss

Rochester-based Mr. Prvrt and NYC-based A Visual Bliss, close-up

Mr prvrt visual bliss mural art bronx nyc The TAG Public Arts Project in the Bronx with: Nether 410, Damien Mitchell, Barlo, Daze, TOZ & BR Flesh Beck Crew, Sole Rebel, Ralph Serrano and Mr. Prvrt with A Visual Bliss

 Photo credits: 1 Courtesy SinXero; 2-8 Lois Stavsky

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All-City Express, a hugely impressive interactive art exhibitionmade its world premiere last weekend at Randall’s Island’s Panorama. Under the curatorial direction of 5Pointz Creates leaders Meres One and Marie Flageul, Lady Pink, Tkid 170Toofly, Meres One, Jerms, Topaz, and See tf painted live, covering digital subway cars with original artwork. Fusing graffiti’s underground roots with innovative video technology, the project was developed by Brooklyn-based AST Studios with Tangible Interaction. Here are a few images captured in the course of this three-day cutting-edge homage to traditional graffiti art.

Five of the 5Pointz Creates crew with Marie Flageul in foreground — on green screen

5pointz creates with marie <em>All City Express</em> Premieres at Randalls Island with: Meres, Lady Pink, Toofly, See tf, Python, Jerms, Topaz and T Kid

Lady Pink and Toofly at work on green screen

lady pink and toofly graffiti <em>All City Express</em> Premieres at Randalls Island with: Meres, Lady Pink, Toofly, See tf, Python, Jerms, Topaz and T Kid

And with completed piece as viewed on virtual subway train

lady Pink and Toofly graffiti production <em>All City Express</em> Premieres at Randalls Island with: Meres, Lady Pink, Toofly, See tf, Python, Jerms, Topaz and T Kid

See tf and Python with completed piece on green screen

see tf and python <em>All City Express</em> Premieres at Randalls Island with: Meres, Lady Pink, Toofly, See tf, Python, Jerms, Topaz and T Kid

Jerms and Topaz  as a mix of technologies brings them at work onto a NYC train in real time

Jerms graffiti projection <em>All City Express</em> Premieres at Randalls Island with: Meres, Lady Pink, Toofly, See tf, Python, Jerms, Topaz and T Kid

T-Kid with completed piece on green screen

T Kid graffiti <em>All City Express</em> Premieres at Randalls Island with: Meres, Lady Pink, Toofly, See tf, Python, Jerms, Topaz and T Kid

And as viewed on virtual train

T Kid Randalls <em>All City Express</em> Premieres at Randalls Island with: Meres, Lady Pink, Toofly, See tf, Python, Jerms, Topaz and T Kid

Meres One at work on green screen

meres paints graffiti <em>All City Express</em> Premieres at Randalls Island with: Meres, Lady Pink, Toofly, See tf, Python, Jerms, Topaz and T Kid

Digital tagging by AST Studios; graffiti software by Tangible Interaction & advanced motion capture by PhaseSpace

5 pointz tags <em>All City Express</em> Premieres at Randalls Island with: Meres, Lady Pink, Toofly, See tf, Python, Jerms, Topaz and T Kid

And the trains roll by throughout NYC with AST Studios‘ life-like visual effects and editorial content by Possible Productions

graffiti trains <em>All City Express</em> Premieres at Randalls Island with: Meres, Lady Pink, Toofly, See tf, Python, Jerms, Topaz and T Kid

Photo credits: 1, 3-10 Nic Lyte and 2 Rachel Fawn; videos produced by AST Studios

Note: This blog will be on vacation through Sunday, August 7. You can follow us on Facebook and on Instagram.

Hailed in a range of media from the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

en play badge 2 <em>All City Express</em> Premieres at Randalls Island with: Meres, Lady Pink, Toofly, See tf, Python, Jerms, Topaz and T Kid

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Tracy168 graffiti Bushwick Collective NYC Speaking with the Legendary Tracy 168

With his outstanding sense of color, style and design, Tracy 168 achieved legendary status early on in the most significant art movement of our time. The personification of wild style and the first writer to hit the subways with cartoon characters, the prolific artist wielded tremendous influence. On reviewing Tracy 168‘s work on exhibit back in 1999, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times art critic Holland Cotter had the following to say: “Tracy offers an astounding variety of styles, from 3-D to space-age spiky to Cubistic. He floats out words on cushions of colors, and ties them up in unreadable knots, festooned with tendril-like flourishes.”

When did you first get up?

I first got up with a crayon on a wall in my house when I was four years old. I remember drawing a tortoise and a hare. I lived across from the Bronx Zoo, and I always heard the sounds of animals from my window.

What about the streets? When did you first hit the streets? And the trains? When did you first hit them?

In 1969 when the Mets won the World Series, I first hit the streets. And I tagged my first train the same year. I was 11.

tracy 168 mets yankees graffiti train Bronx NYC Speaking with the Legendary Tracy 168

Tracy flint photo Speaking with the Legendary Tracy 168

What inspired you to do so?

I loved the sense of adventure…the adrenalin rush. I envisioned myself as a Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn. And I loved seeing my name on the trains.

Had you any favorite spots?

I was all-city, and I loved painting anywhere with people whom I loved. But my favorite spots were New Lots Avenue and Utica Avenue on the IRT line in Brooklyn. Any train I painted there would run right away, and so I didn’t have to hang around too long to see my piece pass by.

tracy168 cartoon on subway train Speaking with the Legendary Tracy 168

What about crews? Did you get up with any crews?

I founded the Wanted crew. It was one of the largest crews ever, and just about anybody who was anybody of worth was in that crew. It represented Wild Style.

Had you any early role models or inspirations?

My mother, my grandfather, Jack StewartMichael Stewart… Michael Stewart gave his life so that others would live. After his death in 1983 — and the trials and investigations that ensued — the police were somewhat afraid of treating writers so brutally.  We are the true prophets…

Any particular risky ventures stand out?

I was always wild, always doing dangerous things.

tracy168 painting Speaking with the Legendary Tracy 168

How did you support yourself back in the day? What was your source of income?

In the late 70’s, I began to create all kinds of art-related jobs for myself — painting storefronts, memorial walls, murals… I was the first writer to do that kind of thing. I also worked in an advertising agency. Jack Stewart taught me about copyrights and trademarks. He was a true mentor. He told me real stories — not the ones from Fantasy Island.

Your work has been shown in all kinds of settings across the globe!

Yes!  I’ve been in museums and galleries all over the world. I was always breaking boundaries, Here in NYC my work has been exhibited in dozens of spaces including the New York Historical Society, the Brooklyn Museum and NYU.

I remember seeing your work at the Brooklyn Museum back in 2006.

Yeah! When I came by, I made some adjustments to my canvas with a paintbrush. That didn’t go over well with the security guards. They got the curator of the exhibit involved, who insisted that I couldn’t change anything, since it had already been photographed for their catalog.

tracy168 graffiti Bronx NYC Speaking with the Legendary Tracy 168

Did you have a formal art education?

My education is hands-on.

How do you feel about the role of the Internet in this scene?

It can be used as a tool — if you know how to read the truth.

tracy sketch Speaking with the Legendary Tracy 168

What’s your ideal working environment?

Anywhere outdoors. Even when I paint canvases, I like to paint outside.

What inspires you these days?

My main inspiration is to express myself and grow as an artist in a world that is reluctant to see me as one.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

Every culture. NYC is a melting pot, and I’m in the center of it painting.

tracy 168 abstract art in black book Speaking with the Legendary Tracy 168

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?

I’m not done until I’m happy. As long as I’m alive, I can improve on it. But it must have meaning and exude positivity. Otherwise, why bother?

A few years back you were reported dead. What was that all about?

If I hadn’t died then, I wouldn’t be alive now. It had to happen.  When I vanished, I saw the world going in the wrong direction. This art form can save it.

How has your work evolved in the last few years?

It’s constantly evolving.  This movement is to art like jazz is to music. It’s a fusion of styles and cultures that knows no boundaries. It is a universal language. And the message of Wild Style is “Be yourself. Find out what your talent is and get good at it.” I love everyone, but I will not surrender the truth and lose my integrity.

Photos: 1, 6-8 Lois Stavsky; 2, 4 & 5 courtesy of the artist; 3 Flint Gennariinterview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Note: Photos 7 & 8 were captured from Tracy’s current black book; special thanks to Flint for the introduction!

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Flip graffiti pioneer at Centre fuge Speaking with Graffiti Pioneer Charles Henry aka Flip One

A pioneer of the graffiti movement, Charles Henry aka FLIP One was immortalized in Flint Gennari’s classic photo of him tagging a Coney Island-bound train over 40 years ago. And this past spring the now-iconic photo made its way onto a stencil fashioned by Balu for the Centre-fuge Public Art Project. I met up with the artist — now an LA-based Emmy award-winning cinematographer – while he was visiting NYC last month.

When and where did you first get up?

It was back in 1974 in Propsect Park, Brooklyn. I was 15.

What inspired you to?

Flint’s writings were everywhere in my neighborhood. He was my main inspiration. He also got me into photography. Other writers such as Spin, Coco 144 and Mico also influenced me. And I loved the adrenalin rush hitting the trains late nights and the little bit of fame watching my name go by.

flint gennari photo of Flint Speaking with Graffiti Pioneer Charles Henry aka Flip One

What was your preferred surface back then?

The Franklin Avenue shuttle.

How did your family feel about what you were doing?

They were not happy. My dad used to work for the MTA.

Do you have any specific graffiti memory that stands out?

I saw once — and only once — an LL Cool J top to bottom while I was riding the train to school. I will never forget that!

Flip tags graffiti Speaking with Graffiti Pioneer Charles Henry aka Flip One

Did you work alone or did you collaborate with others?

I painted with the Ex Vandals and the Soul Stoned Brothers (SSB).  But I generally preferred working alone, because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.

What was the riskiest thing you ever did?

Entering the 7 yard with Flint, Dime 139 and Asp across from Shea Stadium during a playoff game in the World Series. Luckily, the cops — who were supposed to be watching the yard — were too busy watching the game on their little black and white TV to pay attention to us! And so we managed to get in and out and do our thing in broad daylight without anyone noticing.

Has your work ever been exhibited?

Yes, my work has appeared in Flint Gennari’s photos in several galleries and museums. My small trains have been exhibited in galleries in LA.

flint and balu Speaking with Graffiti Pioneer Charles Henry aka Flip One

How do you feel about the movement of graffiti into galleries?

I think it’s great! It suggests that what we did has meaning.

What about the increasing engagement of the corporate world in the graffiti subculture?

I used to hate it, but it doesn’t bother me any more. Writers risked getting arrested, maimed — and more — for what they did. They should be paid!

Have you any thoughts about the graffiti/street art divide?

It’s not an issue. My favorite artists tend to blur the line between both: They include: El MacRetna, ObeyMan One and Revok.

Flint Flip AimSSB Speaking with Graffiti Pioneer Charles Henry aka Flip One

How do you feel about the role of the Internet in it all?

I love it! I get to see the work of people I used to war against!

Any thoughts as to why the Europeans are more open to graffiti than most Americans are?

I haven’t really thought about it, but maybe it’s because they place a higher value on self-expression.

And there’s probably no art form more expressive art than graffiti!

Photo credits: 1, 3-5 Lois Stavsky; 2 Flint Gennari; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

Photo 3  features Balu to the right of Flip One and the last photo features Flint to the left and George Colon aka AIM SSB to the right of Flip One

Note: Jan Arnold, the artist’s wife, is in the process of completing a documentary about Flip One’s life. Be sure to check its Facebook page here for some great photos and clips!

Hailed in a range of media from the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

en play badge 2 Speaking with Graffiti Pioneer Charles Henry aka Flip One

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AD subway design winne High School of Art & Design Hosts First <em>A&D Urban Arts Subway Car Design Competition</em> and Graffiti Art Panel Discussion

This past Thursday evening, the High School of Art & Design hosted a reception, exhibition and panel discussion honoring 20 student winners of its first A&D Subway Car Design Competition.  Soon after the event, I had the opportunity to speak to Art & Design alumnus and Old School graffiti writer George Colon aka AIM, who had invited us to this celebration of our favorite art form.

George Colon Signs High School of Art & Design Hosts First <em>A&D Urban Arts Subway Car Design Competition</em> and Graffiti Art Panel Discussion

Thursday evening’s event was wonderful.  We loved the way it brought so many folks – students, alumni, faculty, parents, artists and us graffiti aficionados — together. Whose idea was it?

Two years ago, I presented the idea of a panel discussion on the theme of graffiti art to the school’s administration. Art & Design seemed like the ideal site to host such a symposium, since so many famed writers are A&D alumni.  The faculty, though, was hesitant at the time to engage in a graffiti-related event. They were afraid, I assume, of negative reprisals.

Art and Design subway car competition1 High School of Art & Design Hosts First <em>A&D Urban Arts Subway Car Design Competition</em> and Graffiti Art Panel Discussion

How, then, did last week’s amazing event happen?  What caused the change? Why was the school suddenly receptive? 

There were several factors. First, there was a change in the administration. The new principal is open to new ideas and programs that he feels are in the students’ interests.  And I connected with A&D alumnus, George Alonso, who was in touch with Klim Kozinevich – the designer of the All City Style Blank NYC Subway Cars. It was George’s idea that a few of us alumni offer the students a workshop in designing subway cars. Alumnus Klim Kozinevich donated the All City Style Blank NYC Subway Cars and everything else followed.

spar one training days book High School of Art & Design Hosts First <em>A&D Urban Arts Subway Car Design Competition</em> and Graffiti Art Panel Discussion

What was your original inspiration behind this? What spurred you to see it through?

I felt that I wanted to give back. It was also an opportunity to educate folks about a global art form that has strong roots in this particular school.

Kenji Art and Design High School of Art & Design Hosts First <em>A&D Urban Arts Subway Car Design Competition</em> and Graffiti Art Panel Discussion

The panel discussion was certainly informative. George Alonso was the perfect moderator, and you, along with Spar One and Kenji Takabayashi, had much to offer.  The audience was totally engaged. Why do you suppose there seems to be so much interest these days in graffiti, particularly from the perspective of veteran writers?

As graffiti is increasingly embraced by professionals and recognized as a legitimate art form, it is more likely to spur the interest of folks who would ordinarily dismiss it.

joe russo tags at A and D High School of Art & Design Hosts First <em>A&D Urban Arts Subway Car Design Competition</em> and Graffiti Art Panel Discussion

Yes! Once an art form becomes the subject of museum retrospectives, it is difficult to relegate it to mere vandalism! What’s ahead for you?

We are planning to continue collaborating with Art & Design. We would like to make the A&D Subway Car Design Competition an annual event, and we’d love to conduct graffiti–inspired design workshops in other educational settings.

That would be great! Good luck! 

Images

1. First-place winner, James Dundon (design — center top)

2. George Colon aka AIM SSB signing books presented to students

3. Trains designed by A&D alumni: Kenji TakabayashiGeorge Colon aka AIM, SexerSpar One and Flint

4. Spar One with black book in hand

5. Kenji Takabayashi

6. Joe Russo

Photo credits: 1, 3 & 4 Tara Murray; 2 Todd Atkinson; 5 & 6 Lois Stavsky; interview conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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Chris daze ellis view to the other side Chris “Daze” Ellis: <em>The City is My Muse</em> through May 1, 2016 at the Museum of the City of New York

The City Is My Muse, featuring new works, along with older paintings and memorabilia, by the legendary Chris “Daze” Ellis, opened this past month at the  Museum of the City of New York.  Curated by Sean Corcoran, the paintings on exhibit — depicting NYC’s streets, subways, landmarks and ordinary folks — exude an expressive, soulful energy. Here are a few more:

Cyclone Drop

chris daze ellis cyclone drop Chris “Daze” Ellis: <em>The City is My Muse</em> through May 1, 2016 at the Museum of the City of New York

The 7 Yard

chris daze ellis the 7 yard Chris “Daze” Ellis: <em>The City is My Muse</em> through May 1, 2016 at the Museum of the City of New York

Queensborough Plaza

Chris Daze Ellis Queens plaza Chris “Daze” Ellis: <em>The City is My Muse</em> through May 1, 2016 at the Museum of the City of New York

Daze with his painting Whitlock Avenue

Chris Ellis Daze with painting Chris “Daze” Ellis: <em>The City is My Muse</em> through May 1, 2016 at the Museum of the City of New York

Tomorrow evening — December 8 — at 6:30 pm, Daze will be joined by Jane Dickson and Lee Quinones in a discussion about how New York City’s environment, culture and daily life have inspired their work. Curator Sean Corcoran will moderate the panel. Use Code ART1 for discount tickets here.

the city is my muse daze mcny Chris “Daze” Ellis: <em>The City is My Muse</em> through May 1, 2016 at the Museum of the City of New York

The Museum of the City of New York is located at 1220 5th Avenue.

Photo credits: 1-3 Lois Stavsky; 4 & 5 Tara Murray

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