CONTACT: E. firstname.lastname@example.org – T. (646) 559-0535 | EVENT LOCATION: One Art Space, 23 Warren Street, TriBeCa, NY 10007
RECEPTION: Friday, July 23, 2021 from 6pm – 9pm | ARTISTS PANEL TALK: Saturday, July 24, 2021 from 6pm – 8pm
EXHIBITION HOURS: Exhibition: Wednesday, July 21 – Tuesday, July 27, 2021 | Weekdays from 1–6 pm | Weekends from 1–5 pm
One Art Space is pleased to present Arts in Transit, a group show of contemporary artists who got their start writing graffiti on the New York City subway trains as adolescents. On view from Wednesday July 21st through Tuesday July 27th, 2021, Arts in Transit offers a glimpse into the rich culture of graffiti and the liberating power of creativity from yesterday to tomorrow.
The history of graffiti is also the history of New York City; there is no separating the two. Arts in Transit features the powerhouse artists who led the first generation of New York graffiti writers alongside younger artists who inherited the tools to tell their stories, having grown up watching tagged trains from their bedroom windows. From the vibrant color scheme to gestural fonts, visual similarities in the artists’ work speak not only to the expressive nature of graffiti but also to its culture of collaboration and mutual inspiration. Despite being labeled as vandals in the eyes of the law, crews of minority youth together found an outlet for the pain of their adverse upbringing and a way to claim ownership over a city whose government overlooked them. In strokes, splatters, marks, and sprays, the artists brought light to their experiences and found solace in the process.
Among the leaders of early graffiti writing are artists Mike171, SJK 171, JEC*, a trio of friends who initiated the tagging of the A train at the 168th Street train lay-up, and each made significant contributions to the now recognizable aesthetics of street art. Also highlighted in Arts in Transit, Taki 183 is known to be the first famous graffiti writer; he wrote all over the city beyond his neighborhood and drew numerous imitators. From this origin, the younger generation of graffiti artists developed their own distinct styles while continuing to create with the same vigor and dedication to making art more democratic.
Seen clearly in OLGA’s depictions of women in powerful stances writing graffiti, the exhibited artists’ works are both autobiographical and socially-minded. Roger Smith’s portfolio includes both tag writings and anti-gentrification propaganda, and BC shares hopeful messages about love as well as abstract paintings that represent a commitment to artistic exploration and growth. VINNY’s writings demand respect for the man behind the name, and like BL, his repurposing of material culture is an act of intervention. Maps, menus, and grains of rice appear in various works, acting as an extension of street art by drawing the city into the work. COSE TDS’s abstracted geometric compositions depart from graffiti; though, imagery of spray paint canisters nods to the artist’s roots and glorifies the act of visual expression.An ode to the diverse voices of the New York City creative community, Arts in Transit celebrates art-making as a catalyst for change, both socially and inside oneself. As Paul Simon put it: “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls and whispered in the sounds of silence.”