Emperial Gallery at Camaradas El Barrio

Street art: Galleries and alternative spaces to see exhibits in NYC

Lois Stavsky of blog Street Art NYC picks some of the best galleries, bars and alternative spaces to catch a show.


Since the early 1970s, the graffiti world hasn’t confined itself to just splashing walls. It regularly crosses into the art gallery scene, or carves out space between the two worlds. Lois Stavsky of Street Art NYC (streetartnyc.org) recommends 11 great spots—in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx—to see artists who are active both on the streets and in the studio.

RECOMMENDED: Street art and graffiti guide

Emperial Gallery at Camaradas El Barrio
This pop-up in an East Harlem restaurant and bar exhibits an impressive array of urban artists: Graffiti heroes Part One, Sen2 and Daze have all graced its walls in the past year. Its current showcase (through Tue 30), curated by Fernando Ruíz Lorenzo, presents paintings and 3-D works by Vermont-based Hans “HAKS 180” Schmitter, depicting his signature character, the Lonesome Soldier. 2241 First Ave at 115th St (emperialgallery.tumblr.com)

Gallery at 5 Pointz
A wondrous, 200,000-square-foot open-air display of aerosol art, LIC’s 5 Pointz also houses an indoor gallery adjacent to the loading dock. Under the curatorial direction of 5 Pointz founder Jonathan “Meres One” Cohen, recent show “From Bricks to Blades” (part of Armory Arts Week) featured works in various media by local (and co-curator) Zimad, along with Toronto’s famed Spud. A solo exhibit by veteran KR.ONE opens May 11. 45-46 Davis Street at Jackson Ave, Long Island City, Queens (5ptz.com)

Gallery 69
This Tribeca spot is the one Manhattan space that presents exhibits by an incredible range of veteran graffiti artists, including those who maintain an active presence on NYC walls. Past exhibits have featured works by Lava, Stay High 149, Terrible T-Kid 170, Tracy 168, Bama, Snake 1 and Nic 707. Recent shows have included a solo exhibit by Cope2, a local stalwart since the ’80s, and a two-person offering by the Bronx’s Sen2 and King Bee. These openings bring together generations of graffiti writers and their steadfast fans, and most are eager to write their tag in your black book (sketch book). 69 Leonard St at Church St (212-343-2278, nygallery69.com)

Jonathan LeVine Gallery
Since launching in 2005, this Chelsea space has exhibited celebrated street artists such as Shepard Fairey and mosaic-tile installer Space Invader. Upcoming presentations include a two-person show by Pose and Revok (June 29–July 27); a group exhibit of global street art (Aug 7–24) curated by Sara and Marc Schiller, founders of premier street-art website Wooster Collective (woostercollective.com); and a solo show by European stencil pioneer Blek le Rat (Sept 7–Oct 5). Keep an eye on the gallery’s website for book signings and an array of special events. It also recently presented first-rate pop-up exhibits at the renovated former I-20 gallery space (557 W 23rd St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves) by talented European twins How and Nosm—noted for their intricate patterns in shades of black, white and red—and inventive multimedia artist WK Interact. 529 W 20th St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves (212-243-3822, jonathanlevinegallery.com)

Joshua Liner Gallery
This Chelsea champion of graffiti and street art has presented an international range of emerging and established artists since 2008. Among those featured in the recent exhibit “Direct Address: An Inaugural Group Exhibition” were Brooklyn-based painter Steve Powers and acclaimed artist Swoon. Upcoming shows include solo exhibits by painters Ian Francis and Oliver Vernon. The gallery’s recent move from the third floor of an adjacent building to its current spacious ground-floor digs is cause for celebration, as are its monthly Thursday evening openings. 540 W 28th St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves (212-244-7415, joshualinergallery.com)

Le Salon d’Art
What was once exclusively a hair salon has evolved into one of the LES’s hottest urban art spots . Owner Hans Kerremans began to exhibit in 2009 and has since established an underground reputation for splendidly curated solo shows and has featured Lisa Enxing, noted for her kimono-clad girls and deftly stenciled animals, and Joseph Meloy, celebrated for graffiti-infused, expressionistic works. 90 Stanton St between Ludlow and Orchard Sts (212-777-6008, lesalonart.com)

Low Brow Artique
In addition to selling an impressive selection of graffiti supplies, tees, jewelry and tote bags, stalwart sprayer and owner Bishop 203 hosts monthly solo and group shows, featuring works in various media by such locals as politically engaged stencil artist Gilf! and comic-infused portraitist ND’A. Check out the current exhibit of alluring, inventive pieces on reclaimed wood by Miami’s Alex Yanes (through May 10). 143 Central Ave between Starr St and Willoughby Ave, Bushwick, Brooklyn (718-724-3450, lowbrowartique.com)

Mighty Tanaka
Headquartered in the heart of Dumbo, this organization displays fresh visions by mostly local artists like ChrisRWK, VengRWK and Alice Mizrachi. Brooklyn-based Hellbent’s solo show, “Even Romantics Love Violence,” runs May 10–June 7, and Austria’s Nychos, known for his wondrous, weird characters, shows off new work Aug 9–Sept 6. Stop by during the Dumbo First Thursday Gallery Walk, when the space remains open until 9pm. 111 Front St between Adams and Washington Sts, suite 224, Dumbo, Brooklyn (718-596-8781, mightytanaka.com)

NoBar was opened less than two years ago by actor Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker) and now hosts monthly shows with art venture POPUP X NYC. Curated by Brian JerkFace and Iman Johnson, the exhibits showcase a diverse range of artworks by Phetus, Col Wallnuts and Carson DeYoung (Deps1), among others, and openings include artworks, music and live painting (next event Fri 26 7–11pm). 608 Nostrand Ave between Atlantic Ave and Pacific St, Crown Heights, Brooklyn (facebook.com/nobarbkny)

Tuff City
Founded 20 years ago, this Bronx establishment is a graffiti writer’s and tattoo lover’s paradise. Owned by longtime scene member Med, it not only sells supplies and welcomes artists from across the globe to paint in its outdoor space, but also exhibits first-rate pieces on canvas by such masters as Nicer, the late Iz the Wiz, Cope2 and T-Kid 170. Among the works currently on view are collaborations by NYC graffiti king Ces and famed comic artist Mark Bode. Tuff City recently opened a smaller but no less enticing studio on the Lower East Side. 650 E Fordham Rd between Belmont and Cambreleng Aves, Bronx (718-563-4157) • 17 Essex St between Canal and Hester Sts (212-777-4157) • tuffcitystyles.com

Woodward Gallery
Works by luminaries Francis Bacon, Robert Indiana and Andy Warhol sit alongside edgy street art here. Kosbe, Cassius Fouler and Moody, all active on the streets and in studios, are featured in the current show, “Detail” (through Sun 28). The legendary Lady Pink, who continues to blur the line between graffiti and fine art, was the subject of a solo show in the past year, and last summer, Harlem’s Royce Bannon curated an exhilarating exhibit featuring Cope2, Russell King and UR New York. After a visit, cross the street to Woodward’s art lounge and bar, Ghost (132A Eldrige St between Broome and Delancey Sts; 212-755-8390, ghostoneldridge.com), to admire striking, stylish works in a range of media by Matt Siren and DarkCloud. 133 Eldridge St between Broome and Delancey Sts (212-966-3411, woodwardgallery.net)

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