Friday I headed to the Museum of the City of New York to hear Bronx graffiti artist Blade discuss his work and his newly released book, Blade: King of Graffiti. It was super cool to hear about how he scaled the Allerton station to tag his name and even cooler to see some veteran graffiti artists in the crowd. Blade discussed the importance of recognizing graffiti as a legitimate art form and increase its presence in museums such as the Guggenheim – a view I totally agree with. A couple of months ago, I attended a professional development workshop at the museum an got to see the City as Canvas exhibit (which is AMAZING and has a book to go along with it, that Blade signed for me). In addition to sparking my dormant interest in becoming a graffiti artist myself (lack of artistic talent be damned!!!), I was also exposed to the idea that some people are morally offended by graffiti, which I never knew before. A woman in our group literally walked out of the exhibit. Now, I understand how it could annoy people if someone tagged their property or even the fact that money had to spent to repaint the trains that were bombed. Sure. Fine. But I never knew people had such a strong reaction to it as to leave a room in its presence.
It’s important to understand that graffiti takes talent and skill. It sends a message and is, particularly in the 70s, an outlet for people to express themselves. Why not give people a real space to do that and showcase/recognize it? *steps down from soap box*
Anyway, I had a great time and strongly encourage you to check out Blade’s book AND the City as Canvas exhibit while its still open featuring work from Keith Haring, Lady Pink, and one of my favorites, Lee Quinones.