Published on February 29th, 2016 | by gatsbyadmin0
“Old New York” Exhibition by SEEN
Growing up in New York, the Bronx more specifically, allowed an 11 year old SEEN to watch trains roll by covered in graffiti “scribble” intriguing the young artist. SEEN began writing on trains circa 1973, until 1989, a period often called “The New York City Subway Graffiti Era.” SEEN’s career is one of inspiration, creativity, travel, & artistic vision.
At 19 years old, SEEN’s first museum show was in Amsterdam. Then London. And naturally, Paris, where SEEN set down some roots & remained in the City of Light for several years, creating pieces of mixed media art. Always influenced by the “Old New York” art he grew up seeing, & creating, SEEN’s Parisian life was prolific. Painting, creating, experimenting, & developing new abstract techniques ultimately took SEEN all over Europe. After 5 years in Paris, he moved on to Valencia, Spain.
The 1980s saw the street art movement becoming a legitimate art form, & SEEN had moved his artwork onto canvases enabling fans to begin collecting pieces. Looking back to the trains that made him a household name in graffiti art, SEEN truly embodies his moniker & nickname as, “The Godfather of Graffiti.”
Luckily for us, the native New Yorker returned to this side of the pond sharing these detailed & elaborate works with his West Coast fans.
The Buckshot Gallery in Santa Monica opened the “Old New York” solo exhibition by SEEN on February 20th. Homages to subway art, abstract colors, & New York style pizza set the tone for a “New York State of Mind” kind of evening in Santa Monica.
As a native Los Angeleno, the Hollywood sign is something I have been looking at for decades. It has always been an interesting ”monument” to a development of homes created in the 1920-30s, then called “Hollywoodland.” Eventually, the “land” was dropped, and “Hollywood” remained.
In the mid 1980s, it was relatively easy to hike up to the Hollywood sign. There were no fences, no barbed wire, & no guards. How did he do this? How long did it take?
At the gallery, I had the chance to ask. “SEEN! I have to know, how did the Hollywood sign go??”
“Well, first I went up there about 3 or 4pm to cut down all the weeds & set up the area I was gonna work on, it was real overgrown at that time. I waited until it got real dark, & went back up. I’d start to work & then suddenly there’d be LAPD helicopters flying around with their lights on checking the hillside. I’d hide in the bushes as still as can be & wait it out until they left. This happened twice. Just sitting in the bushes waiting for the helicopters to move on. From start to finish, I’d say the whole project was about 12 hours of work.”
My big, stupid smile on my face was that of shock. Today there are fences, chains, signs, patrols, & of course, still the LAPD helicopters keeping watch over the sign. SEEN is integral to the history of graffiti, but also a large part of Los Angeles’ street art history. The Hollywood sign is a page in the long book of SEEN’s influential career.
What an amazing story to tell. From the Bronx trains in New York, to the Hollywood sign in California, and a solo exhibition in Santa Monica. SEEN has been everywhere, and seen it all.
“Old New York” by SEEN exhibition at The Buckshot Gallery
3129 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Hollywood sign pics from puregraffiti.com Written & other pictures by: Courtney Gilmore (@OGofCBD)