As you arrive into Bushwick, a working class borough of the eclectic New York City; there’s an ambience about it that tells you this area once saw deprivation. But radically it’s blooming as a hipster area, cool and trending, resembling London’s Shoreditch in many ways. In truth, aside from the Street Art tour that encourages me to write this particular post, I didn’t see anywhere enough of Brooklyn and its surrounding areas. It’s a place high on my list to go back to, to roam and explore the depth of its history.
The streets are littered with walls and murals so colourful, inspiring and captivating. Bushwick is home to some of the world’s best street art. Against the backdrop of the industrial estate, these hand crafted art works bring a whole new dynamic to the area, lighting up the stark contrast of dusky grey that surrounds.
The walking tour was operated by Free Tours by Foot and an expert local artist met us to take us around and teach us about the history of graffiti. And there is a difference between ‘graffiti’ and ‘street art’. As I understood it, street art and graffiti are intrinsically linked. The difference, however, is the motive and the intended audience. ‘Tagging’ is the most common form of graffiti; it’s the artist’s signature and it’s deliberately elusive; it’s only supposed to be decipherable to those in the graffiti community.
Street art on the other hand is more open, it’s form derives from graffiti but it’s intentions are to engage and interact with the public and even intended to ‘decorate’ the environment, unlike graffiti which can be purposely destructive.
Nevertheless, whether you prefer street art or graffiti, there’s a skill and awe to it and in many ways you have to appreciate the talent required to create such a form of art. I remember a friend from college who was a graffiti artist, he scribbled my name across my sketch pad and I loved the tribute, my very own tag adorning the cover of my book.
And these art works are all stories; there is meaning behind them whether they are political, a celebration or a personal story of an individual. They are artistic statements.
As the tour came to a close, we were met with a stunning mural, a portrait of a young child splashed across an entire wall on St Nicholas’ avenue that screamed ‘JEEZE’. How this artist is able to depict reality at such scale and by hand fascinates me. It’s truly unforgettable. The artist is Jorit Agoch who is new on the scene, he is super talented and incredibly young.
I’d highly recommend anyone visiting New York to embark on this tour. The Big Apple has so much to offer, this is just one of many highlights.
I also have pictures to share of Melbourne’s colourful streets in this post here.