“Times have changed,” Aaron Goodstone said stoically, eyeing the spruced-up brick tenement at Ridge and Stanton Streets on the Lower East Side, now hip, where his friend Martin Wong once lived. Thirty years ago, when Mr. Goodstone was a teenage graffiti artist, he vied with drug dealers for the corner pay phone to reach Wong in his buzzerless sixth-floor walk-up: a salon, a studio, an archive and a refuge among the crumbling buildings and gated storefronts.
Wong, a major painter in the East Village art scene, who died in 1999, was also a major collector. A mentor to young artists, he amassed about 300 works of graffiti in that small railroad apartment. Nearly 20 years after he donated his collection to the Museum of the City of New York, nearly 150 of those works are in “City as Canvas: Graffiti Art From the Martin Wong Collection.”
The first exhibition of Wong’s collection, opening on Tuesday and running through Aug. 24, it is one of several graffiti and street art shows in the United States and abroad at museums and galleries in the past several years.
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