Katy Golvala

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If you’ve ever walked past one of the giant murals in Bushwick and wanted to know more about the artist or the meaning behind the piece, you’re in luck.

Tony Huffman, a locally based art historian, independent curator, and cultural critic recently launched the Street Art Pilgrimage, a walking tour that goes deep into the background and inspiration for some of Bushwick’s most prominent works of street art.

“There shouldn’t be a hierarchy of art,” Huffman tells Bushwick Daily. “There’s a lot of thought and planning [that goes into street art], and you can bring the same level of scrutiny to it as you would to an oil painting.”

Huffman’s thoughtful analysis effectively transforms Bushwick’s streets into a contemporary art museum. Bushwick Daily recently got the chance to tag along with Huffman and take a look at part of the path he covers on his walking tours.

One of the highlights was Justin Suarez’s Chameleon Mural, a dazzling portrait of a chameleon against an backdrop of bricks that sits at the corner of Flushing Ave. and Ingraham Street. Even to the untrained eye, it’s easy to immediately appreciate how Suarez uses intricate shapes, patterns, and colors to captivate the viewer.

Chameleon Mural (2014), Justin Suarez

However, Huffman was able to add context that allowed for an even deeper understanding of the piece. It turns out that Chameleon Mural is an example of free-hand mural work, meaning that Suarez didn’t use a single stencil to create all the tiny shapes that make up the chameleon’s body. Huffman also explained that Suarez’s life experience provided important inspiration for the mural: the artist grew up surrounded by animals his entire life, volunteers at a bird of prey sanctuary, and often juxtaposes the natural environment with the built environment in his work.

The goal of the tour isn’t to show people as many of the neighborhood’s murals as possible, explains Huffman. Rather, the focus is on spending a significant amount of time with a handful of pieces and really wrestling with the meaning of each one.

Tours run for about an hour and a half, and are offered on Friday’s, Saturday’s, and Sunday’s. Tickets generally cost $30, but now through December 16th, you can grab a spot at a discounted rate of $15.

Cover image courtesy of Bushwick Daily

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