Write of Passage, sponsored by Red Bull, kicked off a six-week program with a huge opening event, series of panels, workshops and exhibitions, on topics like “signature analysis” and the difference between graffiti and street art. Every Saturday from now through November 23, the Red Bull Studio on West 18th opens its doors for a sprawling exhibit on the history of NYC graffiti, focusing mainly on the golden age from the early 1970s through the mid 1980s. The show includes all things graf; tags, stickers, and throw ups from the legends such as Dondi White, NE, Cost, Zephyr, Chris Pape (aka Freedom), Easy, Mare 139, Haze, Alan Bortman, Futura, Moses 147, Claudia Claw Money and more. The show offers fans of today's street art a nice lesson in the mediums roots, and for those of us "from back in the day;" enough nostalgia here to deliver chills.
The event is curated by Mass Appeal and Sacha Jenkins, who has been a promoter, archivist and sometime practitioner of the art form—what he calls the "language of the street" for the past several decades. Special pieces to see are Dondi White's "King Ad-Rock" piece, loaned by Adam Horovitz for the show; the cabinet of classic writers' tools, like Flo-Master ink containers, (stolen) subway door keys, and plenty of spray; and the wall of vintage 80s graffiti stickers.
One thing you can't miss is the brilliant tattoo parlor from writer turned tattooist Mr. Kaves. His art work hangs in the parlor along with a host of Brooklyn-vintage items from the 70's - and my favorite; a "Saturday Night Fever" ALBUM, (not cd kids!) And, a very slick photo of Travolta on the classic 70's subway, priceless . Also, you can see an actual-size "subway car " canvas, bombed here in the studio by real-life rival crews The Magnificent Team (TMT) and The Cool 5 (TC5).
Similar to the Red Bull Music Academy, the beverage maker’s annual conference, the program will include also offer classes for 12 students of the art form, selected in partnership with youth organizations like Paint Straight and Art Start NYC, along with the School of Visual Arts and others.
The idea is to give graffiti its due in a larger cultural context. Graffiti is often misconstrued, denigrated or simply ignored by America’s people and her institutions, both on the academic and fine arts side of the art world.
Quotes and comments I heard that night, (and that have already been published), read like this: "One of the things we've been hearing a lot of this month is Banksy. Yeah he's OK but if wasn't for guys like the NYC graffiti legends there wouldn't even BE a Banksy. People should show some respect to the writers who invented this, all here in New York!" Nothing is more true.
The preview party for the show was packed with writers both current and classic. New street artists were also getting an education. Have a look at the nights activities, (and yes, I'll be going back for more each Saturday during the event!)
The "train stations" and supplies from Scrapyard in Soho
Louie "KR.ONE" Gasparro, author upcoming book DON1 "The King From Queens: The Life and Photos of a NYC Transit Graffiti Maser"
Gasparo with Mr. Kaves
James Sexer Rodriguez and Luis Zimad Lamboy among many signing.....
Jay Edlin, author of "Graffiti 365"
The train, above/below....
Enter Mr. Kaves Brooklyn tattoo parlor....
You can see Write of Passage every Saturday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. from now through November 23. Red Bull Studio is at 218 West 18th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues.
Here are the events scheduled for each Saturday:
Oct 26 - Wall Writers: "Graffiti In Its Innocence" Screening & Panel Discussion w/ Mike 171
Nov 2nd - "Cops & Writers" A conversation with Steve Mona & Special Guests
Nov 9 - "Style Wars" Screening & Panel Discussion
November 16 - Chino: My life in graffiti through the lens of photography
November 23 - Handselecta: A conversation about the evolution of tagging