Carlos Rodriguez aka Mare 139

One of the main players in the New York wild-style graffiti movement of the late ’70s and early ’80s, Carlos Rodriguez, aka Mare 139, has done more to legitimize graffiti as an art form than just about anyone. Making the switch from flat spraypaint compositions to graceful 3-D metal sculptures, Mare took his art off the streets and into the galleries, taking with him the sense of movement, interlocking letters, and the ubiquitous arrows of his wild-style paintings. Looking at his pieces, it’s hard not to think that earning your chops as an artist by painting moving trains is something akin to Rocky going up into the mountains to train at a high altitude. Though his graffiti upbringing is far from blatantly obvious in the fine art he now produces, his contribution to this show is a prime example of how, much like in the graffiti pieces he created in his youth, rhythm and movement are crucial elements in his pieces. Blessed with a knack for being at the right place at the right time, Mare also witnessed the birth of hip hop right in his own front yard. He says, “Most of my sculpting is made with music in the background; sometimes I need specific breakbeats to help me find the rhythm and approach to help pull form into space, much like a B-boy in a circle.”