City Lore Gallery Inaugurates New East Village Space with ‘Moving Murals’ Exhibit

Posted on: April 7th, 2014 at 11:00 am by

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Photo: Lori Greenberg

City Lore, a local organization that champions NYC’s grassroots cultures, has often been described as “New York City’s museum without walls.” This non-museum has now opened an actual gallery in the East Village, at 56 East First Street.

The inaugural exhibit, “Moving Murals: Henry Chalfant & Martha Cooper’s All-City Graffiti Archive” kicked off last week. Chalfant and Cooper have been known for chronicling the graffiti movement since the “Golden Age of Graffiti” in the 1970s through the early 80s. “Moving Murals” displays their images of tagged subway cars in a wall-to-wall mosaic covering nearly the entire gallery. One wall is also devoted to portraits of the graffiti “writers.”

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Photo: Lori Greenberg

Considered vandalism by the authorities in the 1970s (and even into the 1980s, when graffiti started to become recognized as a new art form), tagged trains were usually painted over as soon as possible by the MTA. Chalfant and Cooper were able to permanently capture hundreds of works of subway art before they were whitewashed or destroyed (This writer fondly remembers subway cars that were covered in colorful and exciting art. One often could not see out the window due to the overzealous tagging, but there was a real sense of sadness, when an all-white, newly scrubbed train rolled into the station.)

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Photo: Lori Greenberg

The opening was packed and the crowd was excited about both the new gallery space and the exhibit. We spied a number of graffiti writers in the crowd including the legendary Lee Quiñones (he recently completed a mural on Eldridge Street).

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Lee Quiñones. Photo: Lori Greenberg

Also on view is an interactive, crowd-pleasing iBook by Chalfant which includes train image archives, artist interviews and videos. And make sure you exit through the gift shop. We have our eye on a number of graffiti and street art books for sale. You can also pick up a DVD of Chalfant’s film Style Wars, which is a favorite of some of us Boogie staffers.

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Place Matters Director Molly Garfinkel, City Lore Founding Director Steve Zeitlin. Photo: Lori Greenberg.

There are also some very cool upcoming special events at the gallery on Thursdays at 7:00pm. Here is the rundown:

  • April 17:  The Return of Style Wars: A Screening of Style Wars I & II
  • May 8:  Ephemeral Landscapes: The Transformation & Destruction of Public & Street Art
  • May 22:  Bronx Stories: (Im)migrant Experiences from the Bronx and the Lower East Side
  • June 19:  Spray Cans in the Gallery: The Legendary Fashion Moda & the Fun Gallery
  • July 10:  Generations on the Writer’s Bench: Graffiti Then & Now

“Moving Murals” runs through July 10. The City Lore Gallery is now open Wednesday – Saturday, 12:00pm – 6:00pm.

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