Last Thursday, I donned my best poseur-wear and made my way to the Lower East Side to a nondescript art space for the quintessential New York art experience: the gallery opening. And not just any gallery opening, the “Grafstract” by Fumero gallery opening. If the name sounds familiar to you, dear readers, it may be because you enjoy following the comings and goings of New York mural, graffiti and street artists. Or because you’re a fan of the Art Basel Miami scene. Or because you recall when I shared a quick mention of meeting the strong handshake of a talented Fumero — just Fumero, like Madonna — last year right here in Newark while he was creating a tribute mural to Brick City’s beloved Breya Knight.
In a classic origin story of starting from the bottom and now we’re here, Fumero’s first solo gallery exhibition featured not only fan favorites of his guerilla-style art that has often frequented the brick and mortar spaces throughout New York, but also a few never-before-seen by the general public pieces. Hosted by The Storefront Project Gallery, a cozy space only a stone’s throw from the Tenement Museum, and nestled between The Great Frog and Pilgrim, “Grafstract” by Fumero is an amazing introduction for the uninitiated into the mind of Fumero and his, well, … Fumeroism.
What is Fumeroism, you ask? Well, that’s a question best left for the artist himself. But to me, it registers as the epitome of self-identification. Fumero’s work, whether it be a city scene, a family scene, a comic book character or a street sign, has been representative of an artist’s journey and refusal to be defined by the structure of conventional art. But it’s not rebellious. It’s not iconoclastic. It’s world building.
In the mini-documentary shared with us during the opening reception, Fumero talks candidly about his style and the influence of comic books, cartoons, graffiti and abstract art. He’s an artist in motion — sometimes literally 😉 — and he knows it. And along the way, he’s capturing his perspective of the world around us the only he can. Often that’s with a spray can. Sometimes it’s with a paint brush. But it’s always with a commitment to an authenticity that can’t be denied.
I must admit even though I met Fumero briefly last year, since he doesn’t reveal his face too often, I walked past him several times at the opening without realizing it was him. For the evening’s festivities, Fumero was absent his standard gas mask and sunglasses, and swapped his bucket hat for a more stately chapeau. Fortunately, he stopped me briefly to thank me for coming, and I got a chance to congratulate him on this much-deserved milestone. I don’t hobnob very well, but I would’ve been very disappointed if I didn’t had the chance to tell him how much I enjoyed the exhibition.
And enjoy it I did. From the beaches of Costa Rica to The Table Series Logo to Woody Woodpecker to the multiple iterations of The Grampa, the “Grafstract” by Fumero exhibition is a glimpse inside the psychedelic, yet surprisingly serene mind of an artist who knows who he is. My favorite works — Tesla, Graf Chick and Subway — didn’t receive nearly as much attention from patrons as I think they deserved, but the enthusiasm for Biggie, Marilyn and Captain America could not be denied. But please don’t take my word for it. “Grafstract” by Fumero is on display until November 26th.
A word of advice? Should you venture out to see “Grafstract” by Fumero in this gallery incognito (Seriously, there’s no sign above the door, and the only way to know it’s the Storefront Project is thanks to a small 4 x 6 white piece of paper in the gallery’s bottom left window), remember to let go of any preconceptions you have about art. Or better yet, prepare to be challenged about what labels we apply to artists, style and expression. Fumeroism is a unique character and brand that could only be created by one artist, this artist. And that alone is reason to learn what Grafstract is all about.