Street art has a controversial history, yet at the same time, it’s a relatively short one.
Street art, or graffiti, was initially and predominantly popularized in the 1970s, first surfacing at the very end of the 1960s. In the almost 50 years since, the practice has evolved into an art form, loathed by some, but lauded by many. Fans of street art, such as Adam D. Civalier, have gone as far as opening up their own properties to so-called graffiti artists – something which would’ve been unheard of five decades ago.
Closely tied to hip-hop from its outset, and hailing from New York City, in those two respects at least – not much has changed. “Personally, I love street art which is inspired by architecture and the natural world, and which expresses layered visions of society, particularly in New York City,” explains Civalier, a real estate investor and restaurateur based in Rochester.
Culture, politics, and activism saw street art pioneers such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Shepard Fairey, and Keith Haring surface throughout the ’70s and ’80s. A mixed bag of artists and art styles, the trend quickly spread. “‘Graffiti‘ soon arrived in Washington, D.C. with artist Taki 183’s work quickly becoming renowned,” explains Civalier. “Elsewhere, in San Francisco for example, Barry McGee was the driving force behind the Bay Area’s early graffiti art scene.”
Barry McGee would go on to marry fellow street artist Margaret Kilgallen, who remained one of the few prominent female artists in the field until her death from breast cancer in 2001.
“Back in the ’70s and ’80s, street art’s appeal quickly began to spread across the globe, with artists including Blek le Rat becoming the face of the art style in Paris, for instance,” Civalier adds.
Street art continues to evolve, even today, thanks in no small part to individuals such as Adam D. Civalier. The real estate investor has opened a number of his properties. This includes one of his restaurant businesses, to prominent street artists such as Thievin’ Stephen and members of the FUA Krew.
“I’m personally a huge fan of street art and graffiti, and it struck me how many of these buildings were the perfect canvas. Accordingly, I reached out to a number of my favorite artists with a proposition,” he adds.
The resulting work, undertaken entirely legally and with Civalier’s obvious blessing, has subsequently been showcased on social media. Attracting thousands of interactions on sites such as Instagram and Facebook.
“I want to be able to share these artists’ work. Anywhere I can provide a blank canvas, and where it’s appropriate. Either through my business interests or my property portfolio, I’ll strive to do so,” he reveals.
“A quote from the late street art pioneer Jean-Michel Basquiat sums up what I think I love most about the art style,” adds Civalier, wrapping up, “and it goes, ‘I don’t think about art when I’m working; I try to think about life.'”