Looking for art that is quintessential New York City? Look no further than the art of Chris “Daze” Ellis, currently on exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. Daze’s work is a marriage of street and studio art, drawing upon his subway graffiti art experience as a teenager in the 1970s. The City Museum’s exhibition spans Daze’s career in includes a range of his work throughout the years. Called The City is My Muse, the exhibit really demonstrates how an artist can draw inspiration from New York City life in all its manifestations.
There were several paintings inspired by Coney Island, and those paintings spanned different time periods in Daze’s art as well. Here’s one titled “Cyclone Drop,” painted in 2011. This painting shows the spray painting technique more prevalent in street art, as well as the detailed oil and acrylic work more commonly done in the studio. The result: as I looked at the painting, I felt like I was almost on the roller coaster myself.
Some of Daze’s paintings portray aspects of the character of Times Square, with its feelings of frenetic energy and bright colors. “The Duel,” painted in 2012, is one example of those works. The painting features two things I most associate with Times Square – yellow taxis and neon billboards.
Other paintings seem to draw from Daze’s past as a street artist, such as this one with a subway station setting, titled “Whitlock Avenue” (2010). I particularly liked the technique used on the man’s body, where the paint ran down the canvas.
These are just a few of the pieces that you can see if you visit the exhibit. If you have the chance, I definitely recommend that you visit the Museum of the City of New York before The City is My Muse ends on May 1, 2016. (There are also some other great exhibitions at the museum, all with a New York City connection.)
How can you get to the City Museum by public transportation? To travel by subway, take the 6 train to the 103rd Street Station. You can also get there by bus – just take the M1, M3, or M4 to Madison Avenue and 104th Street, and then walk one block west to Fifth Avenue. While you are in the area, check out the nearby El Museo del Barrio as well. You get tickets to both museums with your entrance price, and El Museo de Barrio has some really good exhibits as well.