HOTTEA Pays Tribute to Dondi

Hottea Dondi tribute (photo by Luna Park)
HOTTEA Dondi tribute (photo by Luna Park)

After his yarn installation on the Williamsburg Bridge this summer met with so much interest, I lept at the opportunity to help Minneapolis-based street artist HOTTEA realize his next New York City project. On an unusually warm and sunny November day, I met up with HOTTEA and a small crew of fellow assistants, Jaime Rojo of Brooklyn Street Art, Disco Bryso and Patrick Sullivan.

Jaime Rojo and HOTTEA hold up the panel at the 1st location (photo by Luna Park)
Jaime Rojo and HOTTEA hold up the panel at the 1st location (photo by Luna Park)

HOTTEA came prepared with two heavy panels: each bore a meticulously stenciled recreation of one of Dondi’s iconic 1980 Children of the Grave wholecar pieces applied onto a series of yarn rectangles fastened onto a metal framework. It was our job to position these panels in such a way so as to create the illusion of Dondi’s work passing by on the modern subway.

Of his inspiration, HOTTEA wrote, “As an ex-graffiti writer of 12+ years there is no denying the influence of 80’s NYC subway graffiti had on me. I still remember the first time watching Style Wars and how much of an impact it had on me and my work. Dondi’s work stood out to me amongst them all. The way he spoke about his work, the colors and the style in which he wrote his letters were very inspiring. I no longer practice writing graffiti and have taken on yarn as my new medium of choice. I wanted to create a piece about one of my biggest influences non-destructively.”

This was no easy task, as each passing train gave us merely seconds to line up the panels, all the while gauging the proper distance of camera to panel to train to achieve the desired proportions. Multiple attempts had to be made at several Brooklyn locations.

HOTTEA lines up his panel at the 2nd location (photo by Luna Park)
HOTTEA lines up his panel at our 2nd location (photo by Luna Park)

After much trial and error – coupled with some rare patience for the MTA’s labyrinthine weekend scheduling – success! With a little suspension of disbelief, the magic of Dondi on rolling stock is in the air…

The memory of Dondi lives on... (photo by Luna Park)
The memory of Dondi lives on… (photo by Luna Park)

Houston at Bowery: 5 Years

The last five years have seen enormous changes to the face of New York City. It’s been especially noticeable on the once illegal wall on Houston at the Bowery – now home to commissioned public art works by international stars of the graffiti and street art scene (on an increasingly pricey piece of real estate).

Retna/March 2012 (photo by Luna Park)
Faile/October 2011 (photo by Luna Park)
JR/June 2011 (photo by Luna Park)
Kenny Scharf/December 2010 (photo by Luna Park)
Sace RIP/November 2010 (photo by Luna Park)
Barry McGee/August 2010 (photo by Luna Park)
Shepard Fairey/May 2010 (photo by Luna Park)
Os Gemeos/July 2009 (photo by Luna Park) - Last masterpiece to be painted on the actual wall before it was covered in wooden scaffolding!
Keith Haring recreation/April 2008 (photo by Luna Park)
Omni/September 2007 (photo by Luna Park)

Update: The links below offer further insight into the history of this wall.

On the occasion of Os Gemeos painting the wall, Martha Cooper shares photos of past artists at the wall from her archive (including Keith Haring). [12ozProphet]

Jeremiah Moss makes the argument that the Houston mural wall is part of the larger gentrification process of “turning the Bowery into a luxury lifestyle destination”. [Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York]

Brian Rose examines the wall’s humble origins as a handball court. [Journal/Brian Rose]