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Exhibition about NYC graffiti art opens Oct. 7 in Indianapolis

graffiti art
Lady Pink, The Death of Graffiti, 1982, acrylic on Masonite, 19 × 22 in. Museum of the City of New York, Gift of Martin Wong, 94.114.96.


INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 24, 2017—This fall, step onto the streets of New York City and immerse yourself into the world of graffiti art with City as Canvas: New York City Graffiti from the 70s & 80s at the Indianapolis Museum of Art Galleries at Newfields from Oct. 7, 2017 through January 28, 2018.

Traveling to the IMA from the Museum of the City of New York, City as Canvas features more than 100 works from the renowned Martin Wong Collection, and chronicles the origins of graffiti and its evolution from a creative outlet—viewed by many at the time as a public nuisance—to an accepted form of art. With intricate drawings, colorful works on canvas and photographs of graffiti writing that has long since been erased, this exhibition includes a variety of seminal works by pioneering graffiti artists such as Keith Haring, Lee Quiñones, Lady Pink and Futura 2000.

In spite of the movement’s beginnings on the streets and subways of New York—as well as the city’s attempts to eradicate it—graffiti art quickly proliferated, forever impacting music, fashion and visual culture. In the decades that followed, graffiti became heralded as an important new form of artistic expression and an international phenomenon.

This exhibition also highlights local Indiana artists such as FAB Crew, Malcolm Mobutu Smith, Samuel E. Vazquez, Nicholas Smith and Nathan Storm. Together, these individuals represent a community of Indiana artists who carry on the legacy of their New York City counterparts.

Discover the artists’ collective spirit through photos, sketchbooks, hands-on activities and more in this one-of-a-kind exhibition in the IMA Galleries.

Newfields guests are invited to celebrate the exhibition opening with four days of exciting events:

  • Oct. 5, join us at 8 p.m. for a special performance by the famous beatboxing pioneer and hip-hop artist Doug E. Fresh. Tickets go on sale today and are $25–$35 for members and $30–$40 for the public. VIP Meet & Greet tickets are available for $75. Members are invited to preview the exhibition this evening from 5-9 p.m.
  • Oct. 6, celebrate the opening of City as Canvas in an evening filled with dueling DJs, beatboxing, breakdancing and artist demonstrations from some of the exhibition’s featured artists. Member tickets are $15, public tickets are $20 and the event will be held at 7 p.m. in Pulliam Family Great Hall. Members are invited to preview the exhibition before the opening party from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 7, the whole family is invited to a day filled with fun for all ages. Family Day: Live, Play, Create is complete with live music, artist demonstrations and breakdancing demos. Also on Saturday, join us at 2 p.m. as the Contemporary Art Society hosts a City as Canvas Artist Conversation about the New York City graffiti movement with some of the artists from the exhibition including Zephyr, Daze and Lady Pink. This event is free and open to the public.
  • Oct. 8, members are invited to an exclusive behind the scenes Member Only Talk with Elisabeth Smith, curatorial assistant of contemporary art, at 2 p.m. in DeBoest Lecture Hall. Join Smith as she explains the influential works by pioneering graffiti artists such as Keith Haring, Lee Quinones, Lady Pink and Futura 2000. The event is free for members.

Continue your exploration of art and its influence on the cultural life of a city at the IMA galleries with Portraits of Our City, opening Oct. 27. The photography exhibition features hundreds of photographs of Indianapolis residents and invites the community to discover human connections through people and place.

City as Canvas runs Oct. 7, 2017 through Jan. 28, 2018. The exhibition is included with general admission and free for members.

City as Canvas: New York City Graffiti from the 70s & 80s was developed in collaboration with the Museum of the City of New York. City as Canvas is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and is part of the IMA’s ARTx series, made possible by a gift from the Efroymson Family Fund.

For more information regarding the exhibition and upcoming events at Newfields, visit

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graffiti art