freedom with other writers at gallerySM


1980 was such a beautiful year for trains. The list of iconic whole cars and window down burners is long, with many of the cars captured by Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper to be dispersed worldwide via Subway Art. 1980 was also the year that a newer more technically proficient group of writers were asked to paint on canvas, this had happened previously with the writers in UGA in the early ’70’s with mixed results.

There is something about canvas that is intimidating, writers were no longer being asked to do “graffiti”, they were being asked to do something supposedly deeper – they were being asked to produce art – or, what they thought art was. The early works on canvas by some of today’s art stars are illuminating to say the least and raise a lot of questions. The first Dondi painting I remember from this period was done in spray paint and outlined with an El Marko, the story of how he evolved as an artist must be fascinating. The first Lady Pink canvasses were colorful flowers done in spraypaint, within two years she was painting politically charged works in acrylic. The first Crash canvasses were a gritty take on  “pop” imagery which looked a whole lot better when he and Daze rented a studio and both painters hit their stride.

Which brings us to the audacity of Crash and Daze renting a studio in 1983. Who would do such a thing? That was the prevailing mentality back then, there was always a feeling that it wasn’t going to last. It’s quite possible that without Subway Art, Wild Style and Style Wars that it wouldn’t have gone global and that collector’s would’ve moved on to the next fad – but it didn’t happen that way. It’s 34 years later and at least ten writers from that period are being taken as serious artists around the world, it’s nice that in this show there are some pieces where the artists didn’t have all of the answers yet. That was how it was in the 80’s.




In the vast history of graffiti there is simply no single train that one can point to and say that was the first Christmas car – however – the Blade snowman comes pretty close. It was painted in early December 1974 and helped propel him towards whole cars. In the mid-70′s the Wanted crew did many thematic cars, Halloween, Christmas, the Bicentennial – it was all grist for the mill. Of course Lee took it a step further by doing two adjoining Christmas cars with the names of the Fab 5 in 1977. After that Christmas cars became more common place, reaching a pinnacle with Seen and Jason’s Happy Holiday’s car from the early 80′s. Enjoy the images and have a great holiday!


1974-blade-snowman-B  1975-tracy-christmas-rev