Some people might think about graffiti as a sign of vandalism but in some cities and countries graffiti is an art form that is celebrated and decors the walls spread across the city. It is a way for artists to communicate while decorating and a way for the general population to appreciate art in their everyday world.
photo by Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
76 E Houston St, New York
The Bowery Mural is a famous 70-foot painting that shows a single face among 365 hash marks, the face is that of a woman, a Turkish artist named Zehra Dogan. The powerful yet simple image was created by Banksy when the country of Turkey was torn apart by war. Dogan’s watercolor was sketched from a newspaper photograph of the Kurdish town of Nasyabin, which was destroyed after a brutal attack by the Turkish Government’s armed forces. After Dogan posted her painting on social media, she was arrested and sentenced to two years and nine months in jail. The mural concurs with her first full year in jail. This piece evokes heartbreak, a sense of belonging to the piece and a slice of history at the same time.
photo by bigcitiesbrightlights.wordpress.com
East Harlem, New York
Sting Ray decided to break orthodox and create a slightly unauthorized gallery in 1980. Ray’s and his supporters created the “Hall of Fame” was a place where graf artists could come and practice in a safe place can during a time when the art form itself was moving away from simply scrawled tags to bright, expressive murals. Since them, the school yard’s four walls both in the grounds and out were fair game.
Today the philosophy has changed with the motto of the site being, “Strictly Kings or Better,” and a rotating cast of internationally celebrated street artists visiting the Hall of Fame and leaving a piece on the walls. Now the walls are usually covered in clean, professional, pieces of graffiti. Despite graffiti’s often badmouthed reputation, the Hall of Fame has brought enough attention to the school complex, that the schoolyard has been renovated to help support the Hall of Fame. This is a community supported schoolyard art gallery that has stood the tests of time over the last 40 years.
photo by Taglialatella Galleries
229 Tenth Avenue, New York,
This is home to the famous street artist from the 1980s, Jean-Michel Basquiat. Originally known by his tag name “SAMO” which stands for “Same old shit”. Basquiat earned a living by selling painted postcards and T-shirts and making collections from scrap metal. It didn’t take long for his work to attract the attention of New York’s art scene. His life and his work went onto inspire other great artists like Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf, other prominent graffiti artists in the late twentieth century. Jean-Michel Basquiat's very authentic to himself, unique painting style, that was applied to paper and canvas, made him a star almost overnight.