From tags to riches: Brooklyn art exhibit features beauty of graffiti

WILLIAMSBURG, Brooklyn (WABC) -- An exhibition on display in Williamsburg features the kind of artwork you'd once only find on buildings and trains.

Actress Rosie Perez opened Beyond the Streets, an effort that was curated in part by artist, producer and filmmaker Sacha Jenkins.

"I grew up in this this movement, it was fascinating, it was daring, it was dangerous and it was pure art," Perez said.

The movement started with kids and teens spray-painting their names or tagging.

"For the longest time people have shunned 'graffiti,'" Jenkins said. "At a time when the city was bankrupt and kids had nothing to do they were writing their names on trains. To think about where we've come from - coming from writing on the sides of subway cars to exhibitions like this is pretty amazing."

There are more than 1,000 works on display by more than 150 artists from around the world. The work is spread out over 100,000 square feet of space.

Bio Tats Cru used to do subway graffiti in the early '80s, but he's been working as a muralist for 24 years.

"We actually went from being chased, to still being chased, but in a different way," he said. "We've now done work for so many schools, we've none nonprofit work, music videos, movies."

It's art that emerged from vandalism and is now celebrated. There's a section devoted to activism and there's even an in-house tattoo parlor, making for a very meta art piece.

Beyond the Streets moves street art off the ground and inside, but unlike street art, this artwork comes at a price of $25.

"We always knew it was art from the beginning, it's just everyone else is coming around now," Bio Tats Cru said. "Welcome."

The show, located on 25 Kent Avenue, runs through August.

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