FREEDOM - "Captain America". Acrylic & Spray on wood panel. 18" x 24" x 2". signed from 2013.
The current pieces in the Dirty Pilot show are from a collection of images that I've been painting from 1966 / 1967. During those years I would go subway fishing. This entailed getting a long string, adding a small weight to it and a wad of gum on the bottom of the weight. You'd lie on top of the grating and slowly let the string drop to the bottom, hopefully sticking to any of a hundred buried treasures including: baseball cards, pennies, nickels, bottle caps, matchbook covers etc. Each object had it's own specific charm, some I kept and some I traded. While I only got one Marvel sticker out of the grating I was able to trade for many more. I've cropped these two to fit my own artistic needs.
Chris Pape / FREEDOM
Born in 1960, Chris Pape began painting trains in 1974 as a teenager in New York using the name GEN 2. His early train painting career came to a halt as he entered the prestigious La Guardia High School of Music and Art in 1976. The Music and Art curriculum was ambitious and gave him a foundation in skills as diverse as printmaking, watercolor and oil painting.
After leaving home, the artist returned to graffiti in 1979 with his new name FREEDOM. While painting trains he noticed he was able to get grey tones while painting in silver and black, with the tones he realized he could draw with paint.
In 1980, while exiting Riverside Park, FREEDOM watched as joggers stopped and stared into a grating above an abandoned tunnel. That March he painted something that would stare back, a twenty foot high mural of the Mona Lisa.
It was to be the beginning of a sixteen year run of paintings
and drawings that would come to be known as the Freedom tunnel.
In the 1980’s FREEDOM had one foot in the gallery scene,
showing with CRASH, Jean Michel Basquiat, FUTURA and others. In 1989, with the emergence of the “Mole People” in the tunnel he chose to abandon his gallery career and focus on painting and drawing the homeless. In 1996 the tunnel was closed off and the artist painted his final work titled “Buy American”.
Chris Pape has continued to keep busy, reemerging as an author and filmmaker, and considered by many to be the leading archivist of the New York subway graffiti movement.
He has painted the entire time, doing commissions for collectors around the world usually based on the eclectic works in the Freedom tunnel. His most recent mural was done for LA Moca’s “Art in the Streets” show.