Prospect Heights’ FiveMyles Gallery is hosting the artwork of five graffiti legends in an exhibit that will open later this week. The gallery, which will display 7-10 creations by each artist, is called “Street Art Legends Collective.” The featured artists include Albert Mercado, known as Lava I&II; Jaime Ramirez, aka MICO; Richie Admiral, or Bama, Joe Lopez, or Clyde; and Eddy Salgado, aka Flint 707.
“These guys are a handful of the very few original writers who wrote on trains” curator Frank Godlewski explained. “They are pioneers.”
Bama explained that at first, the art was just about names. “Then we took names and made them prettier. It went from simple print to more elaborate style and then we added more color, backgrounds. Then it became 3D and we started blending the colors.”
In the 70s, these artists, all teens from Brooklyn and the Bronx, were known as ‘bombers”™ making their names on the sides of subway cars and buildings with cans of spray paint. Vandalism wasn’t the main intent, though.
“Seventy-five percent of the youth who grabbed a magic marker or some spray paint and did a tag did it because he or she wanted to become famous” MICO explained. “If you were from Brooklyn, if you were from my neighborhood and we both rode the D train and it had a big MICO tag on, they would tell you and they would know your name.”
In addition to each artist’s individual works, the gallery will also feature a makeshift brick wall, constructed of six canvases, upon which the artists will paint together in homage to their 70s hobby.
MICO said: “This is the closest thing you can get on canvas in 2011 to a subway car writing. When you looked at the subways and you saw all the names on the subway cars, it was a collective thing. This canvas is essentially the same idea.”