El Principio: Drawings 1975 – 1985

lq_v1Raymond and Carmen Quinones were among the first residents to move to the newly-constructed Alfred E. Smith Houses at 10 Catherine Slip in 1954, where they raised four children in a three bedroom apartment on the 15th floor.

Both natives of Ponce, Puerto Rico, they met on the island after Raymond, a World War II veteran, returned from U.S. Army service, and married in 1949. With the advent of opportunity in the work force and affordable airfare, they joined the wave of more than 25,000 Puerto Rican immigrants who came each year to New York after the war. By 1955, nearly 700,000 Puerto Rican were living in New York City. In 1960, Carmen returned to Ponce to give birth to her youngest son, Jorge Lee Quinones. Lee and his mother reunited with his father and siblings in Manhattan one year later.

The Smith Houses are the southern-most projects in lower Manhattan, referred to as the “Lower Lower” by the local population, bordering Wall Street, the financial capital of the world. Lee grew up with the best view in town at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. He awoke to the New York City sunrise from his bedroom window facing east, and watched idyllic evening sunsets from the west-facing window. It was in this apartment, that he began to cultivate his artistic skills.

By the 1970s, Lee’s childhood neighborhood, once a vibrant hub of Italian, Irish, and Puerto Rican culture, had completely deteriorated. As a teenager, he responded with a series of abstract color and black and white drawings that became templates for his paintings on MTA subway cars. The figurative subjects of the drawings were inspired by Marvel and DC Comics, while conceptually, Lee drew from the issues he was surrounded by in the buildings referred to as the Dark Side — fear, poverty, politics, addiction, environment, and the hypocrisy of organized religon.

For El Principio Lee shows 24 original full-color works in their native environment – the very apartment he grew up in and where his mother resides. Nine of these drawings were developed into whole subway cars on the IRT #5 and RRs. Iconic pieces such as the “Heaven is Life, Earth is Hell” car that Lee constructed in 1977 depict the essence of Lee’s emerging talent as a painter.

These works were schematics for Lee’s prolific subway masterpieces, which ultimately provided the impetus for creativity as a means for survival among destitution. He has saved hundreds of drawings from this era, when his burgeoning art career took shape over a decade on the New York transit system. Lee intends to reveal the entirety of these works in a future career retrospective.

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Published by admin, on November 22nd, 2009 at 9:41 pm. Filled under: HERESAY,Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Lee Quinones Auctions Automobile Ford Flex for Urban Playground

Ford Motor Company will auction a 2009 Ford Flex art car, Lee Quinones’ “Only in New York”, at the Barrett Jackson auto auction in Las Vegas, Nevada Saturday, October 10, 2009. All proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Urban Arts Partnership and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Ford Flex has staked a claim on the streets as a true American original.  So has Lee Quinones.  He emerged from the New York City subway art movement in the 1970′s to international prominence in the arts and in popular culture.  Appearing and starring in important films like “Wild Style”, his work is part of the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum, the Groningen Museum and the Museum of the City of New York.

“Only in New York” is Quinones’ vision of the Ford Flex as an urban social gallery, a reflection of both modern day New York and folkloric aspects of Big Apple culture.  The exterior of the Flex art car is hand-painted using spray paint and clear coats.

The hood of the vehicle shows a typical New York street filled with those chasing success.  The driver’s side pays homage to the constant movement of the city that never sleeps.  The passenger side presents imagery of the controversial and tumultuous activity of the economy that is rocking the city and the chaotic images of the past decades that created cultural dynamics.

Features include a hand-painted center console, a band of poetry on the doors and headrests featuring the renowned “LEE” signature tag.

The “Only in New York” Flex was commissioned by Ford along with Automobile Magazine to express the diverse nature and customization possibilities of this groundbreaking new crossover.  Unveiled at SEMA in 2008, this art car was instrumental in the naming of Flex as the SEMA Design Awards “Most Accessory Friendly SUV”.

All proceeds from the sale of this car will be donated to two great organizations:
Urban Arts Partnership strengthens public schools by providing arts-based solutions to urban educational issue. Lee has taught courses to students at this New York City non-profit.

A portion of the proceeds will also go to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) which is dedicated to finding a cure for diabetes.
For more information:


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Palette Studies

Money Can’t Buy Love (Color Study)

Buried Blueberries (Color Study)

Money Flies (Study to American Splendor)

Worry Be Happy (Color Study)

The Rose (Study to Heart in a Hurricane)

Study #1 (Study to Send in the Clowns)

The Late Sho (Study to Windows)

The Lying King (Study to Windows)

Classical Mess (Color Study)

Published by admin, on June 28th, 2009 at 5:54 pm. Filled under: IF YOU SEE SOMETHING BUY SOMETHING,Uncategorized Tags: , 2 Comments

New Works

Send in the Clowns, 68 x 50

A Midsummer’s Dawn, 68 x 50

This Side Up, 51 x 32 (2 panels)


The Man from Uncle, 48 x 96

Pass the Dawn Unto You, 50 x 60

“Heart in a Hurricane” 110 x 66

Published by admin, on June 28th, 2009 at 8:52 am. Filled under: IF YOU SEE SOMETHING BUY SOMETHING,Uncategorized Tags: , No Comments

Nothing But the Truth & Consequences

In the event that anyone traveled to Genoa for my show to find bare walls this month, I want to apologize for any inconvenience. I made the very difficult decision to remove my paintings from the gallery walls as a result of the Il Trifoglio Nero gallery’s unprofessional conduct and financial challenges. I personally removed my paintings days after the opening before returning to New York to ensure their safe return to the U.S. I was forced to make this decision to protect my work and my family, as well as my integrity.

I am no longer doing business with the Il Trifoglio Nero Gallery in Genoa, Italy. They are still in possession of one my paintings “Speed Kills” that I consider a lost work in the wrong hands, as well as stacks of catalogs that were printed for the show. These catalogs are not an official release representing my work. I have the only original, signed, numbered and authenticated catalogs in addition to the paintings that are in my possession.

This turn of events was heartbreaking, because I love Genoa, I love all of Italy, and I love the Italian people and their culture. The Italian people have extended themselves to me with a warm reception and been extremely supportive of my work for the last 30 years. I hope to return to Italy and find a more ideal situation to share my work in the future.


Lee Quinones

Published by admin, on May 11th, 2009 at 6:40 pm. Filled under: UncategorizedNo Comments

Helenbeck Gallery Comes to NYC on May 28

You’ll see a few pieces from your’s truly here:

Published by admin, on May 7th, 2009 at 3:02 pm. Filled under: HERESAY,IF YOU SEE SOMETHING BUY SOMETHING,Uncategorized1 Comment

Return to Italy: Truth & Consequences


If you find yourself in Genoa, Italy this time of year, Truth & Consequences opens at Galleria Il Trifolglio Nero Sat. April 18. I had my first international show in Italy 30 years ago with Fab Five Freddy — but as I always say — history rhymes with itself. Here we have all new paintings unveiled for the dawning of a new day, unleashed for their solo mission. My man Rich Medina will be blessing us with his beats at the opening and after party.


Published by admin, on April 16th, 2009 at 1:50 am. Filled under: IF YOU SEE SOMETHING BUY SOMETHING,UncategorizedNo Comments

Martin Wong’s Downtown Crossings


Martin Wong’s Downtown Crossings opens at the Asian Pacific American Institute at New York University Friday, March 6 and is on display through Dec. 18. Martin and I collaborated on a piece that I loaned to the exhibition.

Here’s exhibiton info:

The Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University is proud to present the exhibition “Art, Archives, and Activism: Martin Wong’s Downtown Crossings” from March 6-December 18, 2009. From the mid ’80s through the early ’90s, artist Martin Wong and other downtown New York artists were affected by an intersection of major historic events spanning the AIDS epidemic, urban renewal and attacks on graffiti in the city, to Tiananmen Square abroad. The exhibition explores artists who crossed paths during this particular time, influencing and inspiring discussions, art works, and activism.

Artists, writers, and friends of Wong who worked alongside him have loaned his paintings, personal remembrances, photographs, and selections of their own work for this exhibition. These friends and peers include Charlie Ahearn, John Ahearn, Tomie Arai, Jane Dickson, Chris “Daze” Ellis, Bing Lee, Miguel Piñero, Lady Pink, John “Crash” Matos, Lee Quiñones, Yasmin Ramirez, Sharp, Harley Spiller, Wicked Gary, Zhang Hongtu, PPOW Gallery, and his New York art dealer Barry Blinderman at Semaphore gallery.

“Art, Archives, and Activism” presents a story of a time and the interconnectedness of the artists with the world around them through artwork, letters, photographs, videos, postcards, posters, and flyers of participant artists. The exhibition traverses two decades, presenting an artist’s life and the issues that engulfed him, catalyzed from these connections and overlapping paths.

The opening reception is also the reception and book celebration for the Asian American Art Symposium 2009 at NYU presented by A/P/A Institute and co-sponsored by The Noguchi Museum; The Japan Foundation, New York; The Asia Society; NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development; and Museum of Chinese in America. For more information about the symposium please visit www.apa.nyu.edu

Co-curated by Alexandra Chang, Tomie Arai and I-Ting Emily Chu.
Associate Curated by Mie Iwatsuki.
Archival consultation and support by Fales Library and Special Collections at NYU
Installation design by Jonathan Lo

Gallery hours: 10am-6pm Monday-Friday
FREE and open to the public.
For more information, visit: www.apa.nyu.edu

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Published by admin, on March 5th, 2009 at 1:12 pm. Filled under: BONCHINCHE Tags: , , , , 1 Comment

The New York Hoax


So did we all just jump step back into our collective miserable futures?

By this I mean, are we repeating the same old vinyl on the jute box by being passive about current issues on our newspapers and writing off how this action can and will remorselessly effect our future?

How is it that a popular New York City tabloid gets away with racist (either bluntly or subliminal) remarks during such a vital but sensitive climate. Even though I think The New York Post is one of the worlds ugliest, imbecilic boring papers, their editorial staff are indeed smart enough to know when some thing may be offensive or even provoking. Maybe their intent is to provoke more paper sales by being sarcastically brash, but is it so in vogue to assist and provoke national incidence just to sell a few thousand of a crappy urban paper? As they say, New York may not be physically part of the United States, but its actions and reactions are shots heard around the world.

Boycott like Montgomery in 1955. Maybe Boycott the companies that advertise in them also. Let them know as well. It might hurt the gold nest for now, but it will flush the toilet as needed.

I remember when the passing of Yasir Arafat was front page news on all the local papers back in 2004 which it should have been expected because of his influence and presence in world politics. We may have not agreed with policies and rhetoric that comes from other places and its peoples, but lets be real and honorable here as a nation. Whether right or wrong, we do not have the right to just write off people no matter what their religious, political beliefs may be and dis them publicly with the following as The New York Post did. “It isn’t over till the Arafat lady sings” was the headline that day. Our children may get a glimpse of these headlines as papers tumble across windy city streets. Is this what we intend on teaching them and ourselves?

Maybe it was a title to sooth the nerves of blinded bamboozled consensus that really think they know who, what and why terrorism came to our shores. At the end of the day creative vandalism is what that was. Vandalizing our senses with dirty low down literary Graffiti.

In my book, we as a nation are routinely subjected to approving and perpetuating that kind of conduct especially in the tender light of some our own personal losses. Say or write any vulgar thing to a hurtin’ people in hurtin’ times and they may just follow your lead into temptation. Whack ethics with no respect for morale is what that is, just as whack as when the last Commander in Chief declared war by ringing sabers on top of what I considered sacred ground, the still smoldering wreckage of the Trade Center.

A righteous Commander walks softly and carries a big stick. He/they are to keep the calm and collect themselves, keep the revenge parties to within the Oval walls till they are sure and deteminned to act in the most right ways.

A righteous news print keeps the senseless rhetoric to within the water cooler and avoids from instigating the very same blind acts that plague our mess.

I say to every one stop peaking down at your I-pods, I-phones, berries and look up to the nasty anti social campaign raining down on your heads as we speak. Boycott the SOBs and get real smart relevant information else where while you’re at it.
I’ve been Boycotting them since the early 80′s.

Nuff said.

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Published by admin, on February 18th, 2009 at 10:55 pm. Filled under: HERESAY Tags: , 2 Comments

For who the closing bell tolls.


Just adding a few captions here, no pep talk, no explanations. just the facts Man…..
I’ve always said that if you want to get a peak at the economic climate, especially of the global type, then look no further than the street signs of New York. This is the epic center to all transactions and lean times bring mean streets.

When was the last time you saw FOR RENT, FOR SALE, signs plastered onto the sides of store fronts and or building facades that were not removed for weeks at a time? Usually when a vacancy is all but eminent in New York, it is called for before the old tenant even knows he or she is leaving.

Another ironic phenomenon may be the first ever sightings of high rise vacant condominiums. All I can say is this and hear me clear. It’s going to be an interesting Summer in the year of the OX.

The Arts is the only true last front. Keep your voice boxes, pencils, brushes, cameras charged up, we’re all going to need ‘em.

Published by admin, on February 10th, 2009 at 8:38 pm. Filled under: HERESAY Tags: , , 2 Comments