Everybody knows I love graffiti. Which means that I also love wheat-pastes, stencils, paste-ups, tags, bombs, murals and collages. Which are all elements of a new vanguard of urban expression – Street Art. I like to say that “Street art is graffiti with a college degree.”
Back in October, USA Today asked me to put together a photo-essay and accompanying blurb about the BEST Street Art in NYC. In my various research, I ended up getting in touch with a few of my local heroes, finding out all about what they do and how they do it (mostly under the cover of night) in order to serve their passion, which is putting art up onto the streets.
Take a gander below, both of the pics and the text, and if you’re ever interested in seeing the art in person, checking out the neighborhoods and their amazing art-fueled transformation, I’d love to show you around Brooklyn’s street art scene.
By Matt Levy
Wheatpaste. Freehand. Murals. Stencils.
All of these describe the new vanguard of street art in New York City. Graffiti may have once indicated a neighborhood hit bottom, but today street art ups a neighborhoods cool factor. And with the cool kids comes cafes, shops, restaurants, safer streets – and increased property values. Think graffiti with a college degree.
Street Art can take many forms: – a hand-colored wheatpaste poster slapped on a wall, a drip painting on the sidewalk, a sculptural installation on an abandoned building, a hidden hand-cut glass mosaic or a tag so large it can only see it via satellite. NYC’s best street art comes from a field of multi-disciplinary and multi-ethnic artists who aim for neighborhood beautification via illegal (and legal) means.
Post-industrial neighborhoods have gone from beat-down to boutique-ified. Bushwick in Brooklyn is a beautiful example. In the late 1970s, Bushwick was the bottom of the barrel – destitute and derelict, known for arson and arrests. Now Bushwick is NYC’s most creative neighborhood, thanks to its artists.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at these pics. And we’ll see you on the streets.
– Matt Levy is a native Brooklynite and owner of The Levys’ Unique New York! NY’s First Family of Tour Guides. His signature tour is From Graffiti to Galleries.