subway graffiti

Flip-graffiti-pioneer-at-Centre-fuge

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

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

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

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

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.

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A&D-subway-design-winne

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

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-competition

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.

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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

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

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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"subway graffiti"

Moving Murals: Henry Chalfant & Martha Cooper’s All-City Graffiti Archive, a mosaic of 850 wall images of subway graffiti photographed by Chalfant — along with a series of Martha Cooper’s artist portraits — continues through this Thursday, December 18 at 4pm.  A homage to the boundless creativity of the graffiti artists whose talents and passions paved the way to the global street art movement, Moving Murals is the first exhibit to grace the City Lore Gallery at 56 East 1st Street.

Another close-up from Henry Chalfant collage, featuring the legendary Iz the Wiz

Henry-Chalfant-subway-graffiti-City_Lore

Martha Cooper’s portraits

"Martha Cooper Photography"

Including such contemporaries as Lady Aiko (top left)

Martha-cooper-photography-city-lore-nyc

And next Saturday, December 20, 12pm – 6pm, you will have the opportunity to take home one of Henry Chalfant’s graffiti train prints as City Lore will be offering Chalfant’s train photographs from the Moving Murals exhibit with each membership purchased. Membership begins at $35. Hot cider and a variety of gifts by local NYC artists will also be available for sale at the City Lore Store

City-Lore

Moving-Murals-City-Lore

Final photo courtesy of City Lore; photos of Henry Chalfant’s installation by Lois Stavsky; of Martha Cooper’s by Dani Reyes Mozeson

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The ingenious InstaFame Phantom Art, conceived and curated by Nic 707, continues to bring old school writers — along with newer ones from NYC and beyond — back to the trains.  Here are a few images captured on recent rides:

Paulie Nassar and the legendary TAKI 183  — with background by Nic 707

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Anjl

Anji-graffiti-1-train

Nic 707

Nic-707

Praxis

Praxis-stencil-art-on-subway-1-line_edited-1

Shiro 

Shiro

Nic 707 and TAKI 183

Nic707-taki183-graffiti-MTA-subway-train-NYC

TAKI 183 with background by Nic 707

Taki183

Photo credits: 1 & 7, City-as-School intern Tyler Flores; 2 – 6, Lois Stavsky; 8, Nic 707

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Nic707

The brainchild of veteran graffiti writer Nic707,  InstaFame Phantom Art continues to bring graffiti back to NYC trains — with artists from across the globe now contributing to this ingenious project. Here are a few images of artworks captured on the 1 and 6 lines:

The legendary Kingbee

KingBee

British graffiti pioneer Pulse

Pulse

Bronx native Yes One

Yes-one-graffiti-subway-NYC

Bogota-based stencil artist Praxis

Praxis

Style-master Meres — of 5Pointz fame

Meres

Old School writer Tony164

Tony164

And new from Nic707

Nic707-2014-graffiti

Photos by Lois Stavsky 

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Sen-One-graffiti-Time-Out-New-York

Born and raised on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, George “SEN One” Morillo first got up in his neighborhood in 1980. Soon afterwards, he began painting subway trains on Manhattan’s No. 1 line and became a member of IBM (Incredible Bombing Masters), one of NYC’s most celebrated graffiti crews. When asked to design an original cover for Time Out New York, SEN One painted a tribute to that era.

In his studio with painting on canvas

senone-graffiti-artist

And here’s a sampling of some more of SEN One’s tributes to that era:

graffiti-on-train-George-SEN-1-Morillo

To Kill A Red Bird, 2012, a recreation of a piece done on a NYC wall back in 1985  

Sen-One-NYC-subway-train-on-canvas

My First Love, 2012, based on the first train SEN One ever did with “POKE” and Joey aka “TEL” in 1982

George-sen-One-Morilla-NYC-subway-graffiti

If you are interested in viewing and purchasing some of SEN One’s artwork, he is conducting an Open House at his art studio through the end of this month. For further information, you can contact the artist at ArawakMedia@gmail.com.

Images courtesy of Time Out New York and the artist