Lee Quinones on Life and Times

Lee invited Life and Times to his studio.

Published by admin, on May 2nd, 2011 at 11:41 am. Filled under: Art,HERESAY,IF YOU SEE SOMETHING BUY SOMETHING Tags: , , , , No Comments

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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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

Instigating a Manifesto

dscn19842Finally, a new horizon has been reached. Here I am at the tender age of 48, as the world’s oldest teenager attempting a back door entry into the modern age arena. Sometimes arriving late to the party one can feast on the good and settled music already playing and skip the bland opening act. But for the old school loyalists out there with notepad sketches and a pencil riding on their ear lobe brim, do not worry; I still keep one foot wedged in that old door with my day planner in hand. After all, coins and pay phones still do work in NYC, and I use them for sure.

I’m really excited about sharing my new work with the many varieties of people around the world, and on this coming April of 09′ in Genoa, Italy, that testament will come to rise. It will be my first solo show on the boot since 1979 when the first ever Graffito exhibition was launched in Europe with Fab Five Freddy and myself. As of late, my work has truly changed in my mind only a few hundred times and it will take on a whole different face from the previous state as it materializes into real matter.

Art based on the spray can has been a dynamic movement propelled by young people since the late 1960s that reaches a larger audience gauged by its own persistence. As artists, we are responsible for the advancement of this movement, just as we were responsible for its introduction. We must breach the tar pits of our outlaw status and use our social and resourceful skills to painfully advance an art movement that continues to gain respect in its own time and beyond. This is a call to arms for all Rapid Enamelists.

Ignore the Media
In talking about new work, I come to the forefront of a desolate social plain. These dunes of debate have been walked on before, but this discussion has been perpetuated by outside academics and media sensationalists that never quite breach the core of it all. A little known contradiction has been that — No! — a movement such as this should never be understood entirely. To misunderstand it is to keep regurgitating it for the sole purpose of making headlines. We are the catalyst to a manifesto of a modern movement. We must stop whining and carry our own weight. This manifesto may start with an argument and gain legs within an argument, but arguments aren’t strange to movements. Debates have been settled by artist by either moving forward with groundbreaking work or moving on to brawls on the bar room floor. Check your options and adoptions.
The movement within a movement has to be modeled after the courage by some to take on new challenges within them selves. Graffiti has to be taken out of its historical context in order for it to be debatable and understood enough to debate. No wish washy kid-speak here. Only groundbreaking, well-natured new work will move us forward. Solo shows, installations and thoughtful commentary are key to this advancement.

Turn the Page on the Good Old Days

To my fellow peers — some who are very talented — rid your selves of the nostalgic bug. Sure we can venture over to THE OLDEN DAYS as they say, and re-live those vital heroic years from our youth. After all, some of those days and nights were the most exciting and successful feats of our lives. But let that happen naturally from within our selves and for the appropriate reasons over a beer. Nostalgia should only surface when its disciples have the notion to reflect on a relevant cause or as a need to contrast a point and time and not because the world’s idea think tanks have dried up. If it were such, then we’d all still be pigment scratching the catacomb walls of Pompei. It should not dictate our future and present moment to the tilt, the Graffitists were a powerful and versatile collective back when and survived a gritty fiscally challenged city without any blue print handed to them. The just cause of what we literally fumed about 35 years ago has now gone on to influence a hundred thousand more from all corners of the globe, just like the Italian Futurists did at the turn of the 20th century. What we have to remember as a whole and as individuals is that a true movement will always be about evolution within its own revolution.

Embrace the New and Improved
I’m deeply excited by our new incoming President Obama and Vice President Biden. They both shine with honor and valor the way I always expected this country’s dignitaries to hold court. Rolled up sleeves will become the norm around these parts again and perps best chirp their dirt some where else, it’s time to flush the toilet Baby!

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Published by admin, on February 1st, 2009 at 10:08 pm. Filled under: HERESAY Tags: , , , , , 4 Comments