Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Studio Visit: Legendary Graffiti History & Art / Fashion Mix with George "SEN-One" Morillo!

I recently had the opportunity to visit the studio of legendary graffiti artist George "SEN-One Morillo" and have a talk with him about his beginnings, changing neighborhood and flourished career.  It was a wonderful afternoon looking through his art from the past to present and especially "real" photographs (on photo paper!)  from the 70's and 80's kept in stacks of photo albums, (a thing of the past that we over 35 used to put our printed photos in long before digital.)  I also was able to see the trench coat and pieces done from the 2009-10 Rachel Roy collection that I had always admired, a nice art/fashion mix right there.  SEN-One was recently featured in Time Out NY magazine for his contributions to (graffiti) art, have a look and read the interview which will pleasantly take you back in time.
Your work is legendary and many, many artists are inspired by you and your writing and designs. At what young age did you begin?
I really started bombing hardcore at 12, my first year in J.H. school. That's where I meet POKE. He was 12 as well.

Do you remember which was the first piece you ever put up and where?
First piece, well it was different back then. Because we was really poor and spray paint was getting hard to steal, and the fact that our crew was still learning, most of our earlier piece's was done together. Like we did a piece that said “GHOST” in 1982 for the Ghost Station located on 91st Street and Broadway. So I don't remember the first piece I ever did, I do remember the first train I did. Winter of 1982, Joey aka “Tel” at the time a member of Young City Boyz and Rock Steady Crew, took POKE and myself and someone else was there, but I can't remember who it was. TEL was about 3 to 4 years older than us and he used to hang out with POKE's sister at the time. It was a weekend and the city got hit with a snow blizzard and remember being with POKE and him telling me “Yo you ready? We are going to do this”. “And I was like Hell Yeah”, and we rolled down to 103rd and Broadway where there was a winter lay-up. Lay-ups are underground yards where they park the trains, instead of parking them in larger outdoor yards. And we both popped our cherries and we became animals after that. It was like a drug, all we wanted to do is Bomb the trains.

Which was your train line or area?
I have 1,2,3 and the A,B,C, but we went after the number 1 line. That was our goal to take control of the 1 line, And we did.

Who were/are your favorite or most influential writers growing up?
Wow so many of them, OK. Doze, Poke, Frosty Freeze, Sia, The original Zoo York crew, Ken-Swift, Zepher, Freedom, Furtra 200, Ali, A-1, Dondi, Dez, Volcan, Kel 1st, Tel, PRAY, Shadow, Ton One, Slave, Jester, I can go on and on. To many Kings to mention.

Who are you following today closely? Is there anyone you particularly admire and watch his or her work?
My older brother Ricky Mujica. He's a classical illustrator. I like Marthalicia Matarrita art works. Graffiti I love anything these crews do. IBM, TC-5, FC, X-MEN, ROCSTARS, TATS Crew.

When did you start transforming into the “design” (gallery and product), scene as well?
In 2009 I started collaborating with Rachel Roy for a line called Rachel Rachel Roy she was dropping that was distributed by MACY's. That collaboration pretty much blew up and was real successful for both of us. It lead for MACY's to invite me to have my artwork as the widows display along with the clothing and apparels in 7 of its main window's. My art work was used on 3floors of MACY's floor display for the Rachel's line.
It was pretty amazing. It was a head of its time. The stuff we did is timeless, because right now if that same product was release today, I believe it would it would be just as successful if not more so because of the Graffiti craze that we are having all around the world.

Can you describe a bit about the trench coasts and variety of products?
It was a ladies black trench.  And, the material was develop so that it could take the paint, and I did two versions. One was silver over the black and the other one was full color. We had flat shoes, we had high heals, we had short boots, purses, and sizes hand bags, ladies tights, scarves, leather jackets with my print as the inside liner, blouses, t-shirts, pretty much everything.
Will there be another fashion collab with her?

Can you tell us about your collaboration with KOVERTON?
KOVERTON is an high end furniture company that is based out of California. They and in business of outdoor furniture. And we have been collaborating for about a year and a half, something like that. We started with me doing one of artwork directly on the outdoor dinning, club chairs, and on the sides of there coffee tables. And now we developed the first of it's kind outdoor Graffiti pattern fabric line called “Urban De-jour”.
Please visit koverton.com, all the furniture is also still being offered.

From where do you draw inspiration?
I'm inspired by the true Revolutionary spirit of Hip Hop culture. And keeping true to it's belief that ANYTHING is possible, and everything is.

What is / was your piece complete thus far, if you can pick one or two?
I think that my “Cultural Crosse-fiction” piece. I rehabbed a 25 year old cross that an old church in Spanish Harlem (East Harlem) threw out. I painting the two major decades that New York City, Hip Hop Graffiti really took form. The 1970's and the 1980's, although Graffiti was around before then these were the decades that it came together. My American Flag series that are Graffiti influenced fine art paintings. These piece can be seen on my website or my IG page. SEN-ONE.com or IG originalSEN1

In which other cities, countries have you put up work?
I don't do group shows. Only when I do Expo's or Trade Shows that I show with other artists. I have had a solo show in Israel at the Hadani gallery, I have done 3 International Art Expo, in Miami, RED DOT show, the Cleveland Fest, and countless solo New York shows.

You were recently featured on the cover of TIME OUT NY – how did that come about?
I was contacted by Time Out to do one of their covers artwork, and after we had our meeting they decided to include an interview as well. It was as simple as that. That piece is hanging at Time Out NY office. I'm really proud of that canvas. It represents the gentrification that is happening on the Upper West Side.

Are there any other directions for your work? I noticed you are working on lots of different thing…can you tell us about any?
I'm exploring new collaborations that haven't been done yet. Original ideas, I hate bitters. I want everything I do to be fresh. To many artists are bitters. Stealing everything they see, it's ok to be influence by someone else, but shit let artists rock their own shit with out someone copy their whole style and artworks. So I stay ahead of the game always. Always FRESH and new. I'm working on some real new shit, that has not been done yet. I'll be showing my new paintings, sculptures, clothing, merchandise, and new collaborations in the end of this years and the beginning of 2015. I will begin to hit the International Expo's and Interior Design trade shows. And I'm looking forward to doing some international shows that are on the tables right now. The KOVERTON collaboration and RAYDOOR are two major collaborations. We are dropping Graffiti doors for the interior designs industry.

You grew up on streets you still live today and remain very active and a prominent figure in your community. You mention how the neighbored is being price out and gentrified? What are you working on to preserve the neighborhoods rich history?
I teach Graffiti art classes to the Upper West Side youth at a local community center, called Goddard RiverSide located on 92nd street and Columbus Ave. We just started a bunch of new programs. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I teach from 7-10 p.m. and it's free to anybody from ages 11 to 21. I teach there because my neighborhood was a major player in the development of this great culture that we know as Hip Hop in the 1970's and the 1980's, with groups like ZOO YORK, Rock Steady Crew, IBM and a few others. And that community center was a major place for that development. Frosty Freeze, Norm-Ski, Ken-Swift, Dj Looie Loo, and so many more hung out there and learned to master their crafts. We had original Hip Hop jams there as well. I'm also an activist regarding our rights to be able to co-excise with people with more money then must original or average New Yorkers normally have. The corruption in New York City politics is out of control. F+++ BLOOMBERG; the greatest theft ever.

Can you tell us anything about the Arts In Action program across the street at the pottery/art center? I noticed you painted their exteriors, etc.
Yes I'm also working with local Moms and Pops businesses that want to keep the Upper West Side, the Upper West Side. Little Shop Of Crafts located on 94th street and Amsterdam ave. I'm also in the early stages with Dagositno's supermarket about a 129 feet wall project set for spring of 2015.

Do you still put up you tags and pieces, if so what is the general area for us to find?
No I don't tag anymore on the streets. I live in Manhattan they hang you for shit like that. They'll give me a hundred years for that, whack right? But I still get up with legit morals. Ha ha, and I make a living as well. I see it as I already bombed New York City, and as a kid, so for me I bomb now on products that are everywhere. so I'm still bombing I just get paid and i can't be locked up for it, like when I bombed all of MACY's main windows and I got paid to do it.. You feel me...

If you could have dinner with one or two people, dead or alive who would they be and why?
My Mother, Mercedes Morillo she passed away a few years ago. Tupac “2Pac” Shakur, Michael Jackson, Huey P. Newton, CHE, Malcolm X (El Malik Shabazz) because of there revolutionary visions. The countless of my Homeboys and Homegirls that became victims of this fucked up society that flooded the streets with CRACK and AIDS in order to take back control and be able to redesign the city. I miss all the people that I grew up with, so sad to have watched an entire two generations get wiped out and no one gives a fuck and no one was ever held accountable.
It's like it never happen. 9/11 made everyone forget what had happened to us.
For more information on SenOne visit:
 http://www.sen-one.com and on his instagram at @OriginalSen1