Sunday, March 1, 2009

On the Hoof in Brooklyn

I went walking yesterday with my friend Katherine through Brooklyn, looking for interesting graffiti to photograph. It was a marathon! We started in Williamsburg, which always has tons of street art, and then headed east along the edge of Bushwick and down into Bedford-Stuyvesant, and back around into Clinton Hill and Fort Greene. It took us about five hours to make that loop.

These neighborhoods are all very distinct, and they have their own distinct street art. Williamsburg and Bushwick tend to attract artsy young people, so they have a lot more paste-ups, stencils, stickers and such. Bedford-Stuyvesant, on the other hand, has more old-school graffiti than anything else. So I got a good range of pics.

Katherine took the photo above in the outer part of Williamsburg. That speck on the left is me, and I’m 6’2, so you can see how big Norm’s wall-sized roller piece is!

All of these neighborhoods felt very safe, but I guess we looked out of place in Bed-Stuy, because we actually got stopped by the cops. About four of them pulled up in a van and asked us what we were taking pictures of and where we were from. I didn’t respond at all -- I was furious actually, thinking, “None of your business!” But Katherine’s cooler head prevailed and she said just enough that they seemed satisfied and drove on. (Law enforcement generally frowns on graffiti photography, because they believe notoriety encourages the writers, but there’s nothing illegal about it and we were on a public sidewalk.)

In between all the walking, we stopped at Rocco’s pizza in Bed-Stuy for a slice (chicken and broccoli!), and had coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. All in all, a great day!

(Photo: Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Feb. 2009)


  1. I can almost taste the pizza.

    Just read a piece on the woes of the newspaper industry nationwide. Perhaps you can have a second career as a roving graffiti photographer!

  2. I think, "I'm taking picture of none of your business", would have been the proper reply.

  3. Having dealt with members of law enforcement where I live, Katherine was smart to keep a cool head and reply. It seems cameras, especially in public, make people nervous, especially those in law enforcement. Someone I know got roughed up taking photos...Big Brother is unfortunately alive and well...

    I love your snap!

  4. B: If I could figure out how to make money from this hobby, believe me, I would!

    M: That would probably be an honest response, but it's never wise to throw attitude at the NYPD.

    E: You're right -- K handled it well!

  5. The Law frowns on a lot of stuff...but never upon themselves. It must be awful to have a career where a badge and habit train you to see only the failures in others and never the good.

    Cops are nuts.