Tour New York City's graffiti gems
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Street art and graffiti are hotter topics than ever, of late. The internationally famous street artist Bansky recently blew threw New York and deposited some valuable, controversial surprises all over the place, and a famous Long Island City graffiti center was just painted over, causing much anguish among the taggers who created it.
But plenty of tucked-away gems remain -- artworks that exist outside of the usual world of museums and galleries. "Graffiti is one example, but it's only the tip of the iceberg," says Joachim Pissarro, who, with David Carrier, has written the just-published "Wild Art" (Phaidon, $40), which takes an expansive view of the category. "New York is a hotbed of wild art."
Here are four walks on the wild side, and you won't even need your pith helmet.
1. MURAL, CORNER OF THE BOWERY AND HOUSTON STREET
This location has long been a graffiti hotbed, dating to the days of legendary artist Keith Haring in the 1970s. Since 2008, owner Goldman Properties has hosted everything from a Haring tribute by contemporary artists to the work of Brazilian twin brothers Os Gêmeos. The latest mural, by the artist Swoon, went up last month and will be around until Jan. 15.
2. AREA AROUND THE JEFFERSON STREET STOP ON THE L TRAIN
The surrounding few blocks in Brooklyn (with the intersection of Troutman and St. Nicholas streets as the hub) is a graffiti magnet. "This whole area is brimming with great stuff -- it's growing like mushroom," says Pissarro, who is the great-grandson of the famed 19th-century French painter Camille Pissarro. "It gives you a jolt, and the compositions are very elaborate."
3. 'THE SPRIT OF EAST HARLEM'
East 104th Street and Lexington Avenue
This lively and busy mural, done in 1978 by Hank Prussing and later restored by Manny Vega, has long captured the imagination of the neighborhood. "The handling is very good, and I like how the real windows are used as the windows in the painting," says Pissarro.
4. GRAFF TOURS
Why not have an experienced guide for your journey? Graff Tours founder Gabriel Schoenberg will lead you around town on one of several graffiti expeditions offered ($25, add $10 for a T-shirt), or just buy a map ($25). At press time there were still open slots for this weekend's tours of Williamsburg and Bushwick.
INFO 201-397-9138, grafftours.com