ART: Lady Aiko Puts Her Stamp on Coveted Bowery/Houston Street Wall
We should all welcome those random moments when something unexpected can change the course of our lives for the better. The other night while walking in the Lower East Side, I turned the corner just off Bowery at Houston Street and met two women who inspired me just by watching them at work, clearly doing what they love most. Internationally acclaimed graffiti artist Aiko Nakagawa (Lady AIKO) was busy with stencils and spray can in hand while renowned documentary photographer Martha Cooper shot the petite artist in action and chatted with curious passers-by. A priceless moment indeed since Lady AIKO is the first woman to put up a mural on the Bowery/Houston Street concrete wall, replacing the distinctive red, white and blue symbols of L.A.-based artist RETNA on display since March.
Photos from 1982 capture Keith Haring on a ladder painting the first major graffiti mural at the Bowery/Houston Street wall. Other artists have followed with signature pieces such as Kenny Scharf, Shepard Fairey, Os Gemeos, Barry McGee and street art collective, FAILE (Lady AIKO is a founding member). You’ll notice immediately her geometrically complex designs, expressing femininity, sexuality and whimsy. She earns respect in graffiti circles and the contemporary art world amid prominence as a solo artist who famously collaborated with Banksy, directed the seminal biography on Takashi Murakami and ran his Brooklyn studio for years, commissioned large-scale pieces in many cities and whose works have been exhibited at major museums and galleries around the world. Aiko was born in Tokyo and she has lived in New York since the mid-90s, graduating with honors in Media Studies at The New School. She calls Brooklyn home now and references it in her tag which also incorporates a leaping rabbit and the Japanese symbol for her name (which means LOVE).
In a matter of a few days, the latest Bowery/Houston Street mural nears completion for all the world to see … and what a sight to behold. I’ll look at the wall and remember what a pleasure it was hanging out one balmy, late night in July alongside Lady AIKO, Cooper and everyone else converging on Bowery and Houston at the right moment.
Lady AIKO: http://www.ladyaiko.com/
Complex magazine article on Bowery/Houston Street mural wall: http://www.complex.com/art-design/2012/03/the-history-of-the-boweryhouston-street-graffiti-mural-wall-in-nyc
Photo gallery by Tania Fuentez Media: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ajournalist/sets/72157630530733588/
Martha Cooper’s NYC Snaps: http://www.nycitysnaps.com/
Martha Cooper video interview with BabelGum.com: http://www.babelgum.com/4026246/martha-cooper-graffiti-icon.html