It's hard to comprehend the scale of Beyond the Streets NYC, and, it's also difficult to fully grasp the expansive, detailed history of the worldwide embrace of this evolving street art movement. You start with tags, move on to train stations and gallery exhibitions, explore hip-hop and the simultaneous rise of street art and fine art, experiment with augmented reality and Takashi Murakami's embrace of Japanese graffiti, all the way to coral reef tags – that's a simple way of describing the show's path. In between these hallmark moments, curator Roger Gastman and his team have included ways the music culture, protest art, and political art, as well as classic and brand-new works from vital artists that expand on street art lineage. 


Beloved by the same energy and camaraderie that defined the Los Angeles version, New York's Beyond the Streets is a blockbuster event for the summer, not only by virtue of its presentation as a museum exhibition, but because of the distinctiveness of artists such as Barry McGee and Jenny Holzer, Emory Douglas and Cleon Peterson, Sister Corita Kent and Nina Chanel Abney being embraced by New York City culture. Just some examples of the show's fascinating range, and their narrative links the generations, helping to contextualize the individual contributions to history and the way each artist interprets the meaning of street art for their individual practice as a springboard to contemporary art. 

BTS 148 Barry McGee

The result is staggering in what requires hours to fully cover the two floors in probably the biggest, most comprehensive look at the culture to date. Amplifying on the works previously shown,  the show includes FUTURA, Jose Parla, Conor Harrington, Kent, Abney, Douglas, Broken Fingaz, Doze Green, Reyes, ZES, and many more. A comprehensive pop-up exhibition on the Beastie Boys turns into a unique story of how graffiti, fashion, photography, music, and skateboarding evolved in to from the 1980s to 1990s. 

There will be detractors, for sure, but graffiti and street art culture have flourished for over 50 years, inspiring animated conversation about what is, who is, and who will be. Beyond the Streets navigates such tricky positions by encouraging some of the major foundational members to explore their roots in their own words. It doesn't detract from the essence. No artist tries to outshine or gain more attention than their peers, but rather, relishes a positive conversation from the street, yet through studio practice. That vibe will forever be difficult to duplicate.  

Beyond the Streets is on view at 25 Kent Ave through August 2019. Buy tickets here or get them on site.

text by Evan Pricco, who provided additional curation with David CHINO Villorente and Sacha Jenkins SHR