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Wheels over Indian Trails. For years each time I passed through the Midtown Tunnel, that bold work of art greeted my entry. Little was I to know that this simple but prophetic work of art would be one of the opening salvos in the development of a distinctly urban art form.

Born on the streets of New York City, disturbing for its "in your face" approach, this art of appropriation grew-up in a post-Vietnam War world. Almost without exception, the appropriators came from inner city surroundings. Dissatisfied with his or her own anonymity, graffiti artists became deeply committed to the idea of revolution through blunt social engagement. Out of this helter-skelter tagging of urban surfaces, a small group of artists emerged who would realize the broader potential of this new expressionism.

Developed and curated by John Fekner, the artist of Wheels over Indian Trails, this exhibition and accompanying catalogue reveal the innovative and controversial nature of this art movement. My compliments to John Fekner who, in working closely with Museum staff, has accomplished not only a definitive look at this genre, but also an illuminating publication. Hillwood Art Museum is pleased to be the venue for this major survey of work by these American urban artists.

Additionally, I would like to extend my gratitude to Jeewon Shin, whose catalogue design added considerably to our understanding of this exhibition. I am grateful to Alan Moore, whose catalogue essay enhances the publication, and Barbara Applegate who, as Museum Coordinator, administrated the complexities of this large exhibition.


Barry M. Stern, Museum Director