New York, 1983. My first year in the city was unending with the excitement of not having walked anywhere I would walk those days. Everything I saw I never saw before, except for tidbits on TV, film, postcards, and in coffee table books. Don’t take the subway after 8pm I was told by a caring, but perhaps also a bit jealous voice, in the week before I left for NYC. I loved and feared the subway, and therefore loved it. I loved the rebel texture, the primal imprint graffiti gave to the trains, to the city. I roamed through Soho, the Village (East & West), Tompkinsville, L.I.C., as if they were galleries in the Museum of Graffiti, snapping 35mm slides of all that writing.
I remember the Kenny Sharf shack on Spring Street, and walking past it one afternoon while Kenny and a pal were painting a Tailfin Era car. I remember paying for a Keith Haring catalogue at Tony Shafrazi’s—a Christmas gift for my artist brother—when Keith came up from the back of the gallery with a silver paint marker in the ready to dedicate and sign the book. I remember meeting Liz+Val of paintroller renown. I remember watching teens tagging a wall along a train track. I remember how unnerved they were by someone watching them. I remember Richard Hambleton’s shadow characters gracing white walls. I remember Red Spot’s red spots on the sidewalks of Soho
After each visit to PS1, the entrance becomes exit becomes frame. Each time it focuses me on the piece I missed inside—5 Pointz (www.5ptz.com) across the avenue, the Institute of Higher Burnin’, a living collage of graffiti art covering a converted warehouse full of artist studios. The art of famous and novice graffiti artists covers the building’s facade, all done with the encouragement of the building’s owner—the Max Yasgur of the daubers and scrawlers, the graffitists, those who have given and continue to give color to New York’s FOUDROYANT underbelly.