Witnessing graffiti during the train era in New York City has become the stuff of legend. On any given platform; a train would roll by and you could see various burners; side by side. Each created by different artists. While crews would go out and paint as a collectively; it was not often that art would come together as one. When the trains met the buff; so did most collaborative efforts within the graffiti community. While many artists turned to murals in an attempt to work together; the creative process--simply put--has not often met the same level of success as during the train era.
On March 9th in New York City at the ILegal Mezcal headquarters at 31 Perry street, New York, three artists collaborative effort of epic proportions will be on display. The show is called “The Collaborations” with work featured by Crash (@crashone), BIO (@biotatscru) and Nick Walker (@nickwalker_art). Rather than having their work featured alongside one another--the three artists decided to collaborate on each canvas featured in the show. Of course, crews and artists have worked together on efforts in the past but what makes this more significant than the other attempts is the magnitude that each artist brings to this effort individually.Editor and Author Jonathan Drexler went there to create a short write up about it!
A project of this magnitude does not happen overnight or by happenstance. Crash and Bio, artists from from the Bronx, New York, had the highest probability of the trio to rendezvous and they did back in 1995 by having their mutual spheres of influence interact. Over time, the two of them built a close bond that has continued to this day. Nick Walker of Bristol England, is one of the most celebrated street-artists in the world. I was most intrigued with how he got involved with this project and began getting the scoop on the story according to Crash: “I have always been a fan of Nick Walker’s work--for as long as I can remember. His art is truly just beautiful to me. Given that I had not yet been presented the opportunity to meet him; I had to admire his clean use of stencils from afar. My daughter Anna knew my affinity for Nick’s work. One day she gave me a call saying that she stumbled upon a wall he had just finished and that the paint was fresh. I could not believe it! I ran down to the Lower East Side hoping that he would circle back to check on his painting. I could literally smell the paint and watch it dry but Nick was nowhere in sight. He did not come back that day; but at another time I was down checking out the Bowery wall. Then my daughter walked up with a gentleman alongside her--she pulled me from my conversation and introduced me to Nick Walker. We clicked instantly.
When I shared with Nick how much I loved his work--he invited me to work on an elevated wall with him that was located at Elizabeth street, also in the Lower East Side. When I saw the size of the project I invited Bio and we all got down. It was definitely a fun project. That spawned this show for us. It has been two years in the making but now we have over 20 pieces to show the world and I know it’s going to be amazing. In my opinion; the best way I can explain the magnitude of this collab is to compare it to that of Eric Clapton and Buddy Miles making music together--such different styles meeting for the same goal of making art that moves the people.”
Nick Walker on how the show came together:
“It is kind of funny how we got here--preparing for this show. It all started with that mural on Elizabeth street. Sometime later, I was hanging with Bio and Crash in his studio. We were working together on some anniversary canvases to celebrate the wall we worked on. I remember placing a stencil I made of my daughter holding a spraycan over one of Crash’s canvases and something instantly. In this show, what people will see is three generations come together.
Of course, with me, you will get the vandal character. The two of these guys bring the canvas together because their work is so vibrant. I tend to paint a little darker so it really is great to see these popping colors the way Crash and Bio know how to apply them. The main takeaway is that all of these pieces came together for the enjoyment of it. It’s about bringing back the enjoyment - focusing on creating beautiful, vibrant pieces of work. This was really a fun project. It was nothing that any of us took too seriously. Meaning, we did not sit and contemplate what would go where, or who would do what - we just went for it and painted with enjoyment. Each person here brought their own skillset. Of course, compositions come into play but this was organic. It was also full of spontaneity - making this project easygoing and fun.”
BIO on the show from his perspective:
“My favorite piece of this show varies every time I check out the lineup.
I have a special relation to each one because it took time for this to come together. That had mostly to do with scheduling but it all worked out for the best--given the quality of the work. Part of the beauty of this was that there was no formula at all. We painted without rhyme or reason. Crash and I would work on something to make it cohesive--then Nick would literally go over it with his stencil, as he saw fit. Me and Crash never complained or felt any type of way. This was really an effortless process. Given how much fun I have had painting with these guys, it really did not feel like work at all. While I approached the canvas with blends and layers--Crash has a more solid touch to his work with that classic influence. Nick really acted as the clean up crew; pulling the canvases together as only he could. Ultimately, a show like this works because we all put down our egos. ”
Personally speaking; I was so impressed with the humility all three displayed when I approached them for this article. All three artists are renowned in their own right. Their work has spanned generations and the globe. To see all three of them put their personal accolades and accomplishments aside for the sake of the joy that painting brings them; was truly a reminder that graffiti art is not about fame or money--no matter how successful one becomes. Graffiti is an artform that serves to bring joy its own creator and that is why those who are drawn to it--create for the love of the art. These three artists tap into the core of why they paint even after all these years. At the end of the day; this show can serve as a reminder to the layperson, art collector, the graffiti bomber or the street artist that the love for the art is what keeps it alive.
The Collaborations will be on display in the ILEGAL MEZCAL headquarters located at 31 Perry street, New York. The days for the show are March 13, 15, 17, 20, 22 and the 24th from 2-7pm. If you are in New York City during that time, make sure you check it out and feel the vibe from this epic collaboration in person.