Event Recap: Track Work Art Opening – Spotlighting Curator BILLY SCHON
On Sunday night, I attended the opening reception of the Track Work Show, a collaborative effort between Billy Schon, Good Wood NYC, and Colfax & Bale. The group art exhibition showcased photographs by Billy Schon, placed inside wooden (freight or subway) train panels, produced by Good Wood NYC, and painted by recognized New York City graffiti artists.
The show took place in the back room of The Village Pour House on the Lower East Side. Young and old graffiti artists and lovers of graffiti culture were all in attendance, from Chino BYI to Lord Ezec DMS; it was pretty awesome to see this range of writers come out for this event.
The walls in the back of the room were filled with a variety of blown up photographs by Billy Schon and Urban Hooker, along with wooden painted trains from a dope lineup of artists, each frame holding a photograph that Billy Schon had taken of that writer’s graff in the wild. There was a crazy lineup of writers selected to paint the frames: TOPER, KEMOS, MUTZ, FREE5, EROTICA67, CASH4, QUEEN ANDREA AOK, KAVES, CES, WANE, BZEE, GIZ, MONE, JEST TVT, JERMS, CINIK DEK 2DX, SUCH, GHOST, SPOT, KEO, PLASMA SLUG, SEST2, JEDI5, ACET and HOME.
Aside from being featured in the art show as a photographer, Billy also curated the show, and said that he chose those particular artists because
“They were real. They actually have a presence in the tracks. Walking the tracks, they’re on freight trains, on subway trains.
Billy is quite possibly one of the most well-recognized and active NYC graffiti documentarians of today. He has been photographing graffiti since 2002 and has consistently put out flicks, traveling and exploring different cities as often as possible. He is also one of the most well-respected NYC photographers in the graffiti world. This is due, in part, to the maintained anonymity of the locations he photographs.
“That’s for a specific reason… I was showed that way by older folks who would give me shit for going into an abandoned building and taking a picture out the window where you can see the surroundings, so I’ll go in a building and take a pic of some shit where you can’t see what’s next door. I went to New Jersey recently and found some spots with very very little traffic, but if it was on the map everyone would go there. I didn’t even post a picture of it because I didn’t want people knowing about it.”
His genuine love of the graffiti culture is what makes Billy’s work so exclusive and consequently. What he does doesn’t stem from just enjoying photography but also from being in love with graffiti and adventure. In regards to shooting, he mentioned that he always uses “something different, not some balling ass camera,” and majority of what he posts on Instagram is straight from his iPhone. When asked what had made him realize that he wanted to document graffiti, his response was:
“At first I just liked walking around the streets, graffiti wasn’t even the main focus. I used to look for spots to skate. I liked to look for weird things to see in everyday life. I also knew writers, I knew writers crazy lives that I didn’t think I could ever be a part of it because it’s just so crazy. I never thought… Like I thought there’s no way in hell I’ll know everybody’s name. There are so many names out there like how do you get to know everyone’s name. Now I sit down and think about how I used to think like that. I can now really recognize every single name on that wall and tell you whether that’s some new guy or some old guy. It’s a hobby just like every other hobby. There’s a love in it that all ties in.”
We also spoke a little about how he feels about what camera phones and Instagram have been doing for graff photography.
“It’s great that it’s keeping things moving. It’s keeping people on their toes. Whether they have something bad to say about it or something good to say about it, they’re talking about it. It’s a focus. It’s not something that’s gonna get stale. You can bring up the topic, a 4 x 6 photograph print, which anyone who grew up with that stuff would be like ‘ah this was the good times’, you could actually hold the picture. They (this generation) can’t relate to that. You can’t force them to relate to that. They know iPhones and Instagram. So they’re just continuing it. There’s always going to be something new.
I enjoy going to abandoned buildings and tunnels and all that shit and now you go on Instagram and see everyone and their mothers go there, for whatever reason.(Because of this) It makes you feel like if everyone is going there it’s not as fun so you have to go out and find some new spots. So it’s a good thing.”
With over 30,000 followers on Instagram, it’s safe to say that Billy Schon is one photographer who graffiti lovers can trust to go out there and show pieces we might not be able to see ourselves. He hopes to continue curating art shows and wants to focus more on doing just that.
The opening was organized by Colfax & Bales at The Village Pour House, but the artworks will be put on view and for sale at their Lower East Side Boutique, located at 174 Ludlow Street. Good Wood NYC has also designed blank train photo frames that are available for purchase.
For more photos of the Track Work Show check out http://www.trackworkshow.tumblr.com.
Interested in purchasing a piece? Contact FreshPaintNYC@gmail.com or head on over to Colfax & Bale.
Good Wood NYC
Colfax & Bale