Clanging metal, whirring drills and strains of Chet Baker wafted through the air, nine stories above the busy intersection of St. Nicholas Avenue and West 155th Street in Harlem. Carlos Mare sweated and huffed as he bent a stainless steel arrow over his knee. He tucked it into a mirror-shiny tangle of curves and lines that hung from a wall, stepped back and waved his arms, as if he were conducting an orchestra.
“I haven’t seen my friends in a long time, so I’m struggling with these shapes,” he said, referring to the metal pieces. “It’s like wrestling with graffiti.”
Over the last three decades, the artist, who goes by Mare, has become a master of physical graffiti, using visual language and transforming it into metal sculptures exhibited in galleries here and abroad. It is as if the designs he once painted on subway trains have come off the wall and into fully realized existence.
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