Surprisingly, amongst the many posters in the MTA's arsenal of signage, the letters H, O, U, Y, X, K, and V are no where to be found —like the L train on most weekends. Who knew? "That's where the art comes in, the challenge to create something new with limited means."
Street-artist-pioneer and wordsmith extraordinaire, Al Díaz co-created the most storied tag of all time, SAMO©, with his childhood friend and partner-in-crime, Jean-Michel Basquiat. Al Díaz is a first-generation New York City graffiti artist who continues to create, exhibit and share his experiences as a key figure in the counterculture art scene from the city's graffiti heyday. His Signage studio paintings are verbalisms of unadulterated poetry from a life of observance on the street; hand-crafted by way of utilizing posters and public announcement notices lifted from the city’s subways and station houses. The creation of which are dictated by availability in both the content of said posters/notices and the materiality of which they are made or designed. The MTA's "Service Change Alert" posters along with the likes of "Wet Paint" signs become the templates from which to work and arrange his own lexicon. Surprisingly, amongst the MTA's arsenal of signage, the letters H, O, U, Y, X, K, and V are no where to be found. "That's where the art comes in," says Al. "The challenge to create something new with limited means." By his own rules, he can never write 'shit', it must be 'fecal' —for there is no 'h' in the underground. "It becomes a mental game." One that unravels as satirical as Banksy, these works are poignant messages that question our world order by way of street-savvy chutzpah and farce. Genius in simplicity. Brilliant in richness and depth.
—Gregory de la Haba