Pieces of PART - An article by Jonathan Drexler
A slow start to the Urban Arts Gallery Foundation showcase, Pieces Of PART, gave me the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the most influential figures from graffiti history. At first I thought I was lost. No, it was the right address – the artist is a friend of mine. Pieces Of PART did not have what I expected. I thought I would have seen a line of fans, eager to get in, overflowing into the streets for a chance to experience graffiti art in person. Instead, it was me overflowing into the street to check I had the right cross streets.
But the small crowd was filled with big names in the graff world. I followed the trail of bright PART canvases to the back of the gallery and was greeted by someone motioning for my book to give me a signature.
The crowd consisted of NIC 707, an old-school style master from the first generation of graffiti writers and founding president of Out To Bomb (OTB). There were a few people people from the 156 AllStars, noted as a close-knit, creative New York City crew. Also there was ROCKY 184 (WC 188), one of the earlier graffiti writers and definitely a pioneer for women in graffiti.
Finally, the crowd did arrive and made their way inside, as we followed PART who was awaiting some VIP arrivals. While the people filed in I learned from BIND 156 – who owns and operates the gallery – that PART has earned his reputation not just because of the work he put into the train-era of graffiti but his commitment to the craft as an art-form.
The trail of graffiti celebrities continued when I stepped outside to find DULI 007, part of the UA crew. Out front was also JOEY TDS, who runs the graffiti Hall-Of-Fame. Next I met KEON and COSE. On the insides of the 6 Line, COSE was king. I was able to spend a few moments conversing with him because everyone knows SEEN UA on the outside of the six line but COSE has a unique relation to that era. While we spoke the crowd really poured into the gallery.
PART personally greeted several new arrivals, one with a hug. It was dark outside and I could not make him out until he stepped into the light. I instantly recognized his face and Style Wars T-Shirt...it was SKEME! SKEME’s rise to notoriety is credited, but not limited to the cult-classic, Style Wars, he was also king of the 3 yard.
As they bantered with PART, these graff icons reminisced about their past work, adventures, innocence and sincerity of the art as it used to be – the raw emotion was not what I expected.
That night, I was able to hear from other graffiti writers in attendance about what they thought of the showcase:
Joey, TDS: PART’s work is clear to see when you look at it. It goes beyond just bombing and tagging. PART has taken his letters and consistently made burners and pieces. His work is art. That is what separates him from most graffiti artists.
Rocky 184, WC 188: PART takes his artwork to different levels using graffiti. Graffiti is not only his passion, but a craft he he has dedicated his life to. that dedication is evident in that he has made his name recognized worldwide--rightfully so; his color sense is amazing and now his lettering is becoming a fine art form within itself.
KEON, Ex-vandals, MG Boys: In the short time I have known PART; I have watched his work morph with details and pinpoint accuracy--including abstract letters. His graffiti really is a fine art form. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for him; the talent is clearly there and I am sure we will see his work his work as an artist evolve into something beyond the lettering he has mastered.
NIC707, OTB: PART has, as all style-masters must; his own personal stamp. His font and letters are still evolving as his own contribution to the culture. He is an old-school style master who is still relevant and doing his thing even to this very day. I am glad the age of information is finally giving him the recognition he deserves--PART’s art is part of the past, present and most definitely the future.”
My main takeaway from the night was how tight-knit the pioneers of graffiti are even to this day.. Over time, many youthful friendships fade and change. However, that night, it was clear that graffiti as an artform had an everlasting impact on the writer's sense of community. Artists like PART, NIC and SKEME could very well keep to themselves--but I found every single one of them to be more than approachable and eager to share their own perspectives with me.
When asked about the night that was; PART said “This was my just my second solo venue in New York in quite awhile. It was great spending time quality people. I look forward to the next showing and I appreciate all the people that came out.”
You can follow @partonetds on Instagram for updates about future showings or to see PART’s work. If you have an interest in experiencing genuine New York City graff and getting to know some of the pioneers; all you have to do is come out to PART’s next showing. Graffiti artists are a community, so you may end up meeting some of these legends for yourself.