Words on the Street - 4 of John “CRASH” Matos’ Iconic Murals

Joanne Artman Gallery
May 20, 2018 7:26PM

Walking through the streets of NYC it’s impossible not to notice the bevy of colorful murals, stencils, and tags that populate every available wall surface. Some are at dizzying heights, occupying territory on the tallest of scalable structures, while others decorate the sidewalks themselves. All different styles and of various origins, many are done by artists that travel all the way to NYC to carve out their name and say that they too, have their work amongst the greats.

Graffiti and street art are now recognized artforms that are globally appreciated, in part due to its public nature. By appearing in public spaces graffiti and street art are art forms that bridge barriers, creating a dialogue with the city and its populace. For those curious enough to wonder about the origins of graffiti specific to NYC, the Netflix series The Get Down, provides a crash course to life and culture of the Bronx of the late 70s. The series traces the emergence of hip-hop that thrived alongside the now legendary NYC graffiti culture, evolved by young artists looking to make their mark. One of the young artists in the Bronx at this time was John “CRASH” Matos. Having earned his moniker at school, CRASH gained his notoriety on the street for his daringly placed, detailed, large-scale throw-ups done in a signature style.

Cited as one of the first graffiti artists to spray paint on canvas, CRASH is a New York City graffiti legend. His ability to stay fresh, pushing the boundaries of graffiti as a medium while elevating his fellow artists through collaboration, is well recognized.

Here are four pieces from CRASH’s four decades of influence that demonstrate exactly why this recognition is so well deserved:

Houston/Bowery Wall, 2018

Having already painted the famous Houston Bowery Wall back in 2013, CRASH unveiled a new addition to the historic location earlier this year.

Coney Art Walls, 2015

Image Courtesy of John “CRASH” Matos

This outdoor museum of street art in Coney Island (Brooklyn) hosts the work of some of the best recognized names in street art, drawing thousands of visitors each year.

Miami Marine Stadium, 2014

Image Courtesy of John “CRASH” Matos

A modernist design marvel of the 60s, this water sports stadium in Miami boasts commissioned murals from both local and international artists that were unveiled during the 2014 edition of Miami Art Week.

NYC Train Car, Undated

Image Courtesy of John “CRASH” Matos

Due to the nature of graffiti and the constant change to many of the painted surfaces, many of CRASH’s best-known works have been erased by natural elements, whitewashed, or destroyed through construction. Some exist in photographs only like this classic train car collaboration between CRASH and Kel in an undated photograph.

Though originally the term graffiti artist applied to those who grouped themselves into tight knit crews, today graffiti and the culture around it can be seen as a unifier of those of diverse backgrounds, through a wide spectrum of ages and cultures. Graffiti is a visual language full of signs meaningful to a handful of those in the “know”, yet speaks on a greater platform as well, to the freedom of expression and a global, collaborative camaraderie.

John "CRASH" Matos is represented at JoAnne Artman Gallery

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Joanne Artman Gallery