The well-known Bronx graffiti troupe, Tats Cru, which turned urban blight into a recognized art, was recently commissioned to create several murals that adorned the windows of Lord & Taylor’s 5th Avenue storefront.
“Graffiti continues to break barriers everyday,” noted Hector “Nicer” Nazario. “Ad agencies are employing people who grew up with graffiti and understand it as a viable art form. And, in turn, they are helping companies to become more open-minded to the idea of using graffiti to help promote their product.”
According to Nazario, Lord & Taylor’s reached out to the Bronx-based business. For Tats Cru, it was their first job of this magnitude, as it pertained to a department store of such local and national acclaim.
However, Tats Cru has come a long way from “bombing” subway cars in the late 70’s and early 80’s when making a living off their work seemed like an impossible dream.
“When you did graffiti, you did it in the dark subways tunnels and only intended other graffiti artists to see your work,” Nazario said. “We never aspired to have stuff hanging in the Guggenheim. But that’s changed.”
As truly the first art style created by Americans, graffiti pioneers like Tats Cru are now conducting lectures at MIT and were even asked to create a mural at the Washington Smithsonian, where a fake four-sided brownstone was erected for the spray can artists to use as a canvas.
“There we were with the Washington Monument to the right and the Capital building to the left,” Nazario recalls. “It made me feel proud to see where graffiti has gone.”
Not looking to be put into the same category as vandals who deface mailboxes and street signs, Nazario points out that there is a place for their type of art.
Working in their Hunts Point studios, Tats Cru, which in addition to Nazario, consists of Wilfredo Feliciano, a.k.a BIO; Sotero Ortiz (BG 183), Raoul Perre (How) and David Perre, a.k.a. Nosm, created 27 backdrops featuring urban scenes, the New York City landscape and specially designed murals featuring products representing Gucci, Prada and other designer goods that wrapped around the store throughout the month of July.
Putting the finishing touches at the Manhattan department store, Tats Cru was proud of their latest accomplishment.
“That’s always the best part of this job,” said Nazario. “Each job is something so completely different from the last.”
Nazario hopes that their latest endeavor will further illustrate that graffiti can be used for good. He even has an idea that will ironically help the MTA.
Realizing how indebted graffiti’s rise to the top is to the trains they once used for their art, Nazario believes it is time graffiti became a part of trains once more.
“I would love to wrap the trains in graffiti,” Nazario said. “We can create murals and they can sell ad space. Old school meets new.”
For more information on Tats Cru, go to www.tatscru.com.