Write on! Graffiti legends relive the past in new gallery show

Subway graffiti pioneers Bama, Clyde, MICO and curator Frank Godlewski pose in front of a collective piece to be shown at the FiveMyles Gallery in Prospect Heights opening Dec. 9.
for The Brooklyn Paper
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From subway walls to gallery walls.

Five graffiti legends are reliving the 1970s — sans the vandalism, police and barbed-wire fences — with a new show at the FiveMyles Gallery in Prospect Heights.

“These guys are a handful of the very few original writers who wrote on trains,” said curator Frank Godlewski. They are pioneers.”

The show, “Street Art Legends Collective,” will feature Albert Mercado, aka Lava Iⅈ Jaime Ramirez, aka MICO; Richie Admiral, aka Bama; Joe Lopez, aka Clyde; and Eddy Salgado, aka Flint 707.

But now, they’re being hailed as bona-fide artists — a far cry from what they were considered back in the day.

“We were considered criminals,” said Bama. “We want to have that door open, for people to understand we’re not criminals, we’re not dangerous and that, no, we’re not going to rob you.”

These writers, or bombers, as they were also known, were teenage kids from Brooklyn and the Bronx who literally made their names on the side of subway cars in the most ostentatious and colorful script one can conjure from a can of spray paint.

“At first it was just names,” said Bama. “Then we took those names and made them prettier. It went from simple print to more elaborate styles and then we added more color, backgrounds. Then it became 3D and we started blending the colors.”

For them, it wasn’t about gangs and it wasn’t about vandalism, at least, not for vandalism’s sake — it was about fame.

“Seventy-five percent of the youth who grabbed a magic marker or some spray paint and did a tag did it because he or she wanted to become famous,” said MICO. “If you were from Brooklyn, if you were from my neighborhood and we both rode the D train and it had big MICO tag on, they would tell you and they would know your name.”

The gallery will feature around seven–10 works from each artist, as well as several collective pieces, in which six canvases are arranged together, like a brick wall, on which the artists paint in tandem in homage to their work during the ’70s.

“This is the closest thing you can get on canvas in 2011 to a subway car writing,” said MICO. “When you looked at the subways and you saw all the names on the subway cars, it was a collective thing. This canvas is essentially the same idea.”

FiveMyles Gallery [558 St. Johns Pl. between Classon and Franklin avenues in Prospect Heights, (718) 783-4438], Dec. 9–11. For info, visit

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 3:36 pm, December 6, 2011
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Reasonable discourse

Pher from Prospect Heights says:
St. Johns east of Classon is not in Prospect Heights.
Dec. 5, 2011, 10:06 am
First generation from All city says:

Congrats to my brothers BAMA and CLYDE!

I find it ironic that Mico has made a career of trolling the internet angrily criticizing anyone and everyone who chooses to use the word GRAFFITI, but he has yet to comment beneath this particular article. Since the advent of the internet Mico has bitterly forced his outdated opinions on generations of younger graffiti writers. His long vehement, dizzying hate speech and dragged out tirades on the subject can be found all over the internet - as well as on his website:


A graffiti pimp is that individual who for obvious personal reasons, sponsors the graffiti prostitutes and without any regard and respect for our Culture, continues to perpetuate the racist and classist denigration of our Culture by referring to it as "graffiti."

A "signature" and/or a "masterpiece" were never, nor will they ever be, a "crude drawing," a "scribble," a "scratch," or a "scrawling."

The graffiti pimp is usually a Culture outsider who has never set foot inside a train yard or tunnel to write his or her name or do a masterpiece on a train car, and/or risk his or her behind to the 600 volts of juice that run on the third rail. They've never done these required things because the graffiti pimp simply put, was never a Writer. The fact tha the 'G' pimp is an outsider to our Culture, is the one reason why he or she doesn't understand that those of us who are Writers, refer to our art form as Writin' instead of "graffiti."

Graffiti pimps are always searching for and expecting some type of personal reward for their manipulation and mentoring of the graffiti prostitutes that constitute the pimp's barn. This reward could be financial, free press, fame, etc.

There are two types of graffiti prostitutes, of the first and the second kind.


It is the worst of the two kinds. This creature will distort history by selling his / her false soul to a book author or to a film maker and by lying. Making up stories. Placing himself / herself at a place in time that really never existed or will ever exist, a "twilightzonical" situation.

It is the worst of the two types of "g" prostitutes because the film, magazine article, or book in question will remain as a printed record filled with false data for future generations to also be misled.

Of course, this kind of "g" prostitute carries out this type of behavior for personal, selfish gain. But in this mythical and self-serving process, the "g" prostitute of the first kind hurts the accuracy of historical data on Writin'.

The damage is worst if the book or movie in question really takes off and is very successful in the public domain. Obviously, the more people who see or read this prostitute's garbage, the greater the number of people who are at risk of being misled and misinformed, such as it is the case of a lot of people in Europe who became aware of "graffiti" through Hip Hop books, and therefore, have been misled to believe the nonsense that "graffiti is one of the four elements of Hip Hop." This suggestion is just as ludicrous as the suggestion that the New York Yankees, defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the baseball world series last year.

Modern Writin' as we know it, was started in New York City and Philadelphia in the late '60s - early '70s. Hip Hop was started in the late '70s when rap music was bogarted by the American rappers from the Jamaican rappers. Therefore, in the case of Writin' -vs- Hip Hop, the chicken absolutely, positively did not come before the egg. Instead, it was the other way around.


This kind of graffiti prostitute is the one who sells his / her "tag" to be featured on anything and everything from condoms to jeans to skate boards to toilet paper, in order to make a few chump dollars.

This poor creature is just that - poor, and must earn some chump change somehow in order to pay for a subway ride. This is the kind of graffiti prostitute who labels himself or herself an "entrepreneur." The same kind who will sell his/her "tag" for a few dollars at eBay.

Who knows, with the advances in technology, it may be appropriate today to refer to this creature as a 'cyber-graffiti prostitute.'

At times, this kind of graffiti prostitute will try to convince a true legendary Writin' pioneer from the Original or Old Schools of NYC Writin', to join him/her in selling his or her wares at an eBay auction for example, in an attempt to ride the historical coattails of the legitimate Original or Old School Writer.

Today, the majority of the public who visit eBay and are not familiar with the true history of NYC Writin', run the risk of being further misled into believing a "g" prostitute's false "historical" hype such as, "Yo!, I started 'bombing' in the early '70s."

If the public sees, for example, this "g" prostitute's tag alongside a "Stay High 149" signature being auctioned off for a few chump dollars, then the public has very little choice but to believe that the "g" prostitute is indeed a "pioneer" and a "legend" because he or she is involved in the same auction as is the true pioneering Writer.

Although a graffiti prostitute of the second kind has the unethical qualifications to lie about his / her place in time in the history of Writin', his / her behavior is not as damaging to the history of this Culture as the behavior of a graffiti prostitute of the first kind's is, but nevertheless, will sell all rights to his / her name without regard for where it may be printed and how often it may be printed, therefore, truly losing out on the full benefit of residual income. Some "entrepreneur," a true loser!

So what kind of prostitute does this make you?
Dec. 11, 2011, 4:19 pm
MICO from Bronx says:
Hey Hugo Martinez, you should have identified yourself. This way way people would understand that your "congratulations" for your "brothers," BAMA and CLYDE are not genuine, and instead, quite hypocritical, given the fact that you have no respect either for Bama's or Clyde's work.

You are just bitter because you couldn't be in control of this show, nor will you be "in control" of the our next show in Jersey City.

Hugo Martinez, aren't you the one who invented graffiti pimping???

Dec. 14, 2011, 3:04 pm
Hugo Martinez from Manhattan says:
I did not write any comments on this article. I believe your records will demonstrate that I did not send/write the All city commentary. Kindly remove this slanderous statement.
Dec. 15, 2011, 2:45 pm
MICO from Bronx says:
Hugo, isn't AllCity the corporation you are the head of?

Or did you get your son, daughter or someone else with a different computer and IP number than yours to post your hypocritical "congratulations" to your "brothers" CLYDE and BAMA here, which was your excuse for attacking me with your post in the first place? It strikes me as interesting as well, that you neglected to "congratulate" another "brother" of yours, LAVA a true first generation Writin' legend who you always talked down about, just like you've done with s many others who detected early on your sick ways of treating others, and chose early on not to business with you.

Or should I show the world your e-mails to me, prior to posting your crap here, e-mails in which you demonstrate your bitterness of not "being in charge," by making such a big issue of me being involved in an art show in which the term "graffiti" is used?

Don't try to be slick as you think you are, and stop being bitter at not being able to be in charge of my art eandeavors and the art endeavors of of the other Writers/Artists who were part of your "Martinez Gallery" stable for years, and who finally became disgusted with your condescending treatment of others and left you.

You never attend any of the Writin' / graffiti shows because you know that there are so many people out there in society whom throughout the years, you have mistreated, humilliated or bounced checks on, that would love to meet you in person and settle a few scores with you. Why don't you just live the rest of life in peace, and allow others to do the same?

Peace and have a happy holidays season with your family.

Dec. 16, 2011, 10:22 am
Hugo Martinez from Manhattan says:
You must have not read the conditions below -

"...You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law..."
Dec. 16, 2011, 1:17 pm
MICO from Bronx says:
And you must be a bitter in-control-of freak, who is no longer in control of other people's artistic present & future, for having started this whole discussion.

Live your life and let others live theirs.

Dec. 16, 2011, 3:14 pm
Rob aka Bobby172 from Bronx 1970 says:
Clyde! It's been a long time !!!
May 27, 2014, 11:51 pm

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