Class #4 – 7/12 – NYC Walking Tour Reflection

Class #4 – 7/12 – NYC Walking Tour Reflection

The class met on Thursday in New York City for a guided walking street art & graffiti tour with NYC Graff Tours  –  SOHO & Nolita was covered.

LEAF was our tour guide for this edition of the tour.

Please take your time, reflect, react and respond by Monday 7/16 to the questions below:

1. What do you know now about public space that you did not know before this tour? Has NYC forever changed for you? Explain yes or no, and why?

2. What did you like most about the guided tour?

3. Was there one piece from the tour that has stuck out or spoken to you the most? If so, which one?

*I have published a new Gallery page for image resources from our course. If you have taken a series of good quality photos that you would like to contribute to the site – please e-mail them to me.

(Edit your image the exact way that you wish to see them displayed on the website – preferably no larger than 1000 x 1000 pixels)


10 Replies to “Class #4 – 7/12 – NYC Walking Tour Reflection”

  1. 1. Besides the obvious visuals that we saw in various locations, many of which were awe inspiring, others no so, it was interesting to meet a current graffiti “kid” to discern his motivation to leave his mark on the street. At one point he used the word “narcissistic” in this regard, which perfectly fits this obvious addiction to finding the PERFECT spot so as many people as possible would see his tag for as long as possible.
    All artists want people to see their work, but I think the thrill of doing something illegal adds to the motivation of this art form.
    In our class videos we learned that in the 1970-80’s the inner city kids needed some means to express their existence, thus the proliferation of graffiti. But I would have thought that the allure had passed with the era but I was wrong, since it seems to be going strong.
    I did find it interesting to learn about the corporate sponsorship of murals around town. As an artist, one one hand, I truly appreciate the quality of a piece like the Bowery Wall/INTERMISSION piece, but on the other hand, it subverts the original (from the 80’s, etc.) , personal, expressive intent of these creations. I guess it parallels the dichotomy between the fine and commercial arts and you can’t fault anyone for needing to make some money to “pay their rent”.
    Thanks to LEAF for showing me to look for stickers on lamp posts, mail boxes, small spaces next to large windows, little nooks and crannies all over the place. I will never be able to blindly observe a street scene again without noticing these small designs.
    2. I found LEAF’s personality very interesting. His honesty and obvious passion towards this art form was real and I appreciated the chance to meet him. However, I would have liked him to actually explain his mural painting when we were in that park on Houston St., giving insights to its technique, color, design, etc., formalizing his artistic expression.
    3. As mentioned above, Tristan Eaton’s Bowery wall was fantastic. To think that it was freehand, spray painted without stencils is awe inspiring. Upon research, I also liked the artist’s statement towards it’s concept. Although I appreciate the ability of art as social commentary, its nice, every now and then to simply appreciate the sheet skill of an artist without having to discern their political intent.

    1. Thanks so much Len, great response here! I cant think of a better medium than both street art and graffiti to help people expand upon their definition of art and how the word expands. Public non commissioned work is a thrill, no question about it. Lots of emotions bubble up, and it is not for everyone. I know quite a few people who were caught on their first experience! Tristan Eaton’s talent is incredible, both for technical skill in the application of the spray can as we all his imagery and huge compositions. The Bowery wall compliments every aspect of his style.

  2. Out of all my travelling doing mission trips, schooling and vacations, I will always say submerging yourself in the “true” culture of a place gives you the best experience. There’s always the glorified version of a place but I have always been the one who enjoyed the unfiltered version of a place. I felt that way with this tour. It leaves a mark with you. It’s more memorable. Going to the city and getting a tour from a graffiti artist and not just some regular tour guide brought a new level to the experience. We were really able to see the perspective of the artist, his thought process as he walks the streets and get the inside scoop of the artist communications.

    I can say my perspective has changed, not just in the city but in everyday observation. Although it is not as common where I live, it still exists. I am more observant and am looking out for new tags, trying to find connections between them. When you become more observant on your surroundings, it helps you connect deeper in the reality in which you are. You are more present in like in that time than you would be if you were just walking through life without a thought. Life becomes an aesthetic experience, enhancing it from the everyday. I wish everyone could experience that.

    One piece of the tour that stood out to me was when LEAF mentioned the mosaic tile artist, Invader. For one, his work is definitely different than the others. His work has monetary value and it is recognizable all around the world. What I found most impressive is that Invader has an app that can explain the piece to you and you can get points for finding his work. I think it’s really cool because it’s just another level where you can connect with the artist and another way of being recognized.

    1. Excellent! I love how you are connecting a spiritual context to the tour. It is possible to become further attuned to our surroundings and environments once we become more aware of them. This is a visual literacy. Once we do, we cant go back, we can only start to look for more examples because we ourselves have become more. Graffiti is powerful language, often always misinterpreted at first, second and third glance. 🙂 Invader is unique indeed. A perfect example of artistic awareness. How the artist also figured out how to create a new pathway to join the game and also stand out. Perhaps he borrowed an already existing idea……?

  3. After our tour I can definitely say that I was more aware of my surroundings when walking around the city. Every spot seemed to have opportunity written all over, no matter how small or high it may seem. I really enjoyed Leaf’s take on the graffiti game and how you can use simple materials to get your name out there on the streets. One of my first printmaking classes that I took at post we were screen printing on those postal stickers on our free studio time and after really seeing how many sign, mailbox or post is just covered in them it has really inspired me to want to go back and create more stickers to have some fun with. My favorite place that we explored was the First Street Green Art Park. I loved how that space has been transformed into a street art gallery and I was very excited to see Fumeroism’s piece. I have been following his work for sometime now and always had an appreciation for how he can use line and color to create such beautiful and clean portraits/murals. I had a lot of fun on this tour, it was an awesome trip to see the city with a new perspective.

  4. Before this tour, I knew that public space was constantly in transition, but I only paid attention to the big changes-buidings being renovated, new restaurants popping up, houses being built… This tour (and this class) has made me search for the smaller changes surrounding my environment. Changes such as art on walls–was it done illegally by an artist overnight? Was it commissioned by the owner of the establishment? It’s now easy to spot which is which, depending on the content of the work and how involved the mural is. This tour taught me how to look at graffiti and street art and where to look for it. Even in the smallest of areas in the city are constantly changing. A pole can be littered with numerous stickers made by graffiti artists to get their name out, or even by someone else for commercial purposes. I never paid attention to what these stickers said, or if a certain name was repeated more than others. Now, I know that graffiti writers will try and get as many stickers or tags out to the public as possible so that other graffiti writers can learn their name. I also know the benefits of postal stickers and eggshell stickers and the reasons for choosing both.

    What I really liked about this tour was the information about both legally commissioned murals and illegal ones. I enjoyed the background information about well known graffiti writers, and the do’s and don’ts of the graffiti world. Learning about the two walls of FSG really stuck out to me. I loved the concept of having one wall consist of commissioned work while the opposite wall contained the artwork of graffiti artists. It saddened me a bit to find out that was no longer the case. What I wasn’t aware of however, was the fact that even if an artist “had permission” to paint on the wall on top of an existing illegal piece, that the commissioned artist would be shunned for selling out. After speaking about this in length in both class and during the tour, it completely makes sense to me, but I would never had made the connection on my own.

    We saw a lot of great work on the tour, and a few things stuck out to me. I loved learning about all of the street art that spills over onto social media, such as “#peopleleavingdrinks.” Having the Invader mosaic tiles pointed out along with the corresponding app was also much appreciated, and I plan on downloading the app myself! What really got my attention the most, however, was the mural on the Bowery Wall by Tristan Eaton. The mural was so incredibly well done, and it completely blows my mind that it was all done freehand at that large of a scale. I loved the bright bold colors and crisp line work. It reminded me of something out of the pop art movement. Combining black and white portions into the mostly colorful mural was done in such a way that the change feels completely natural, something very hard to do. The details up close were amazing, but stepping back to take in the entire piece at once was even better. This was by far my favorite mural of the day.

  5. The NYC tour with Graff Tours, lead by street art & graffiti artist LEAF was an “eye opening” experience for me. In such a short time, I was able to absorb and feel much from this walking experience. It has changed the way I see markings and paintings on walls, buildings, lamp posts, etc. Before I was subconsciously ignoring and trying to avoid looking at them for fear of feeling so disgusted at the illegal violation of public spaces, and disrespect to property for no apparent reason. Now, I have a broader understanding of the people behind this, and can see this as an acceptable means of artistic expression for people exposed to this environment. There seems to be a complex meaning, purposeful thought process involved in composing for these artists, not just random. Including symbolism to show metaphor, and portraying a feeling that needs to be advertised to the public. They are attempting to capture attention, share, and express themselves in the same manner as any artist seeks through the preferred media, tools and methods.
    I especially, was left with awe at the uniqueness and reason that Leaf provided for usage of stickers in ordinary places with such subtlety to blend in his artistic tag, promote himself as an artist. The various artworks were enjoyable, but this I will not forget and be able to ignore the hidden meaning.
    It will now be hard to pass by street art & graffiti, with my love of art, as I do not have the ability to walk through a museum filled with precious art work without acknowledgement to the greatness that it has taken to produce them.

  6. Before I come to New York, the culture of street art in Manhattan has already attract me to discover what’s hiden by the concrete jungle.So the first two trips in the city was not only to see this uncompetitive city also to get into streets and feel the culture.
    Fortunately I have a friend who’s passionate about street culture, he told me a lot about the graffitis on walls and those artist who creat these interesting piece.
    Every one has a different perspective about art, so what I have learned about New York graffiti has some difference between what my friend had told me and what Leaf introduced to us.
    It’s not like the difference between North Korea and America, it’s more like different comprehensions for different generation. Personally I really appreciate the inclusiveness for art in New York, that’s also one of the reason I love this city, Bowery wall is truly attracting me to discover more about graffiti, one thing I would like every to discover is go to Korean town and east village, we love to have some Asian foods in there, and also there are tons of tags and writter’s mark and artwork, including graffiti, sticker, also wall paintings, those work has many oriental elements which is very interesting.
    I was expecting the trip could be a little longer than we had, cause there are many other impressive work I would learn more from a graffit artist, but it is still interesting and very knowledgeable.
    Thanks to Leaf giving us fresh thoughts about tags and graffiti, and also appreciate professors Ryan to gave us a chance to curate this trip.

    1. Sorry about the grammar mistakes and blurry expressions, my laptop has broken, iPad is really hard to check my comments and review it. I’ll try to make it better, thanks!

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