Monday, September 15, 2014

'Taki 183': Accidental Find In Red Hook Recalls A Bit Of Graffiti History

Jason Schwartzman
photo by Jason Schwartzman
Carroll Gardens resident Jason Schwartzman made an interesting discovery in Red Hook recently and shared the photo above with PMFA readers. Jason writes:

"This is a photo of a graffiti tag, 'Taki 183,' that I found accidentally at the handball court in Red Hook right by the BQE Atlantic Avenue Exit.

When I was a kid in the late 60's/ early 70's, one of the first graffiti tags I saw in the subways was Taki 183--a black magic marker on the subway tile (it's famous enough to be google-able). I always remembered it, but didn't think about it for eons till I glanced down yesterday and was stunned by this archeological find (or so it felt). Of course my 9-year-old son could hardly be bothered by this bit of history, but perhaps your readership will feel differently!

Of course, I googled "Taki 183".  Sure enough, Demetrius, the graffiti writer behind the tag not only has his own web site but also a Wikipedia page.
'Taki' was Demetrius' nickname. '183' stood for 183th Street in Washington Heights, where Demetrius lived  in the early 1970s.  Back then, he was a teen, going to high school in Midtown Manhattan. He began leaving his tag on subway trains, light posts and 'anywhere he felt was a good spot."
After he became a messenger, he moved about the City, leaving his signature in other neighborhoods.

The New York Times article shown below appeared in 1971. It brought Taki instant notoriety.

According to Wikipedia, Taki "was one of the most influential graffiti writers in its history".

Here is a link to his bio.  In a follow-up article in 2011,  the New York Times calls Demetrius the "forefather of graffiti."

Obviously, Demetrius made it as far as Red Hook in the 1970. Thank you so much for sharing, Jason.

taki_183_nytimes copy


Anonymous said...

Wait....the Jason Schwartzman lives in Carroll Gardens?

Anonymous said...

Very cool!

Painting with a twist said...

Very interesting

Anonymous said...

183rd St is not in Jackson Heights. Must be Washington Heights.

Katia said...

My mistake, I just corrected.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting article, but I think most us are more interested in whether or not this is THE Jason Schwartzman.

Katia said...

Not to my knowledge, but how about it Jason