You can see street art anytime you want just by roaming the roads and avenues of Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Chelsea, among other neighborhoods in New York. Or you can visit one of the galleries listed below, all of which are committed to showing work by up-and-coming or established artists who got their start on the street. By Jessica Allen.
More: Street Art Walk in Chelsea: 7 Murals To See
“Where the raw meets the refined” goes the motto at Mighty Tanaka, a small gallery in DUMBO. Billing itself as an “art gallery for the new generation,” Mighty Tanaka has shown work by such street artists as Skewville, Flying Fortress, H. Veng Smith, JMR, See One, Cake, and Hellbent. Indeed the curators value “urban inspiration,” and the shows demonstrate a willingness to break barriers between sometimes roughly executed street art and more polished gallery work. Also, some pieces cost less than a thousand dollars, making them (relatively speaking) more affordable.
Jonathan LeVine brings the tags, stencils, stickers, and images seen on the streets of Chelsea inside, into a large gallery space. Among the street artists who have shown at this gallery are Invader, specializing in mosaics; Gaia, specializing in wheatpastes; How & Nosm, specializing in installations and murals (pictured); Olek, specializing in yarn art; and Aakash Nihalani, specializing in tape art. Like a lot of contemporary artists themselves, this gallery doesn’t see a distinction between “high” and “low” art.
At the Hong Kong outpost of the Opera Gallery, you might see paintings by Marc Chagall, in Paris you might see work by Joan Miro, and in New York you might see stencils by Blek Le Rat, considered the father of this street art form. Put another way: this gallery is focused on the masters; whether they’re establishment or anti- doesn’t matter. In May 2012, the Streets of the World show collected pieces by Roa (pictured), Faile, Swoon, Know Hope, and Os Gemeos, among other street artists from around the world.
Not only does Klughaus Gallery put on shows featuring street artists, painters, and photographers, but it also runs an “aerosol agency,” linking graffiti artists with people who want specially commissioned pieces. (True identity of those involved in doing graffiti or street art kept secret as required, of course.) Without a permanent gallery space, its curators have focused on creating short exhibitions and mobile shows around New York and other cities, such as Miami. Recent “pop-ups” have included RIME, Seb Gorey, Aaron OBLVN, Brisk, Gorey, The Yok, and JURNE.
A few years ago Ad Hoc Art closed its Brooklyn exhibition space and left the city for Vermont. Nevertheless, it remains well-known and well-loved in New York, in part for its Welling Court mural project. Since 2010, this gallery has brought together several street artists to beautify the streets of a residential neighborhood in Astoria, Queens. A list of the more than 80 participants reads like a “who’s who” of some of the best artists putting up pieces on the streets today, including Chris RWK, Chris Stain, Gilf!, Lady Pink, Never, Sheryo, Veng RWK, Fumero, and Joe Iurato (whose 2012 contribution is pictured at right).
Run by the friendly Meres One, 5 Pointz is an outdoor gallery down the street from the Museum of Modern Art’s PS 1 in Long Island City, Queens. In September 2013, this complex will be torn down to make way for luxury condos. Go see the self-proclaimed “graffiti Mecca” and “Institute of Higher Burnin’” while you still can. You’ll be rewarded with masterpieces in aerosol, from portraits of Notorious B.I.G. to cartoon characters to sexy women to tags in an array of styles. A visit will absolutely change your mind about the possibilities inherent in a can of spray paint.