John "Crash" Matos / Image by Nina Robinson Photography
John “Crash” Matos / Image by Nina Robinson Photography (Click image to enlarge)

When you meet John ‘Crash’ Matos, you quickly realize how down to earth and humble he is. 40 years ago he began graffiti bombing subway cars and soon became a major sought after artist and featured in so many galleries and museums throughout the globe, yet none of this seems to have changed his persona.

Now, after all these decades, Crash is putting down some roots in his home borough of The Bronx and opening up a gallery in Port Morris.

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WallWorks NY, located at 39 Bruckner Boulevard on the corner of Alexander Avenue is situated on one of the most highly visible intersections in The Bronx.  Thousands of cars drive by daily on their way into Manhattan from The Bronx, Westchester, Connecticut and points North.
WallWorks NY, located at 39 Bruckner Boulevard on the corner of Alexander Avenue is situated on one of the most highly visible intersections in The Bronx. Thousands of cars drive by daily on their way into Manhattan from The Bronx, Westchester, Connecticut and points North. (Click image to enlarge)

Called WallWorks NY and located at 39 Bruckner Boulevard at the corner of Alexander Avenue, the new gallery will have a soft opening in September followed by several shows until the end of the year. The official opening is scheduled for January 2015.

According to Crash, he was in Paris a little over a month ago and was inspired by a Parisienne gallery called Galerie Wall Works. While in conversation with the curator, they agreed that WallWorks NY would be a great idea. When I asked him about why the name he simply said, “It’s what we do.” Both the Paris gallery and The Bronx WallWorks NY will be collaborating in exchange programs, a sort of artist swap if you will.

Within a few weeks of coming back home to the states, Crash found the location, worked the details out with the landlord and signed a lease at the former hydroponics store in Port Morris.

Fashion Moda Influence

When we asked Crash what he envisions the space to be, he said, “I want it to be an updated Fashion Moda, a space where we can have exhibitions of local artists, small music events, poetry readings, workshops for kids, as well as showcasing work from around the world.”

He added that, “If it weren’t for Fashion Moda, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now talking about this.”

Crash said that he doesn’t want to display his work and doesn’t want to make the space about him. The gallery is a way of being able to give back what he was afforded in his youth and throughout his life.

In the back of the gallery will be a pop up shop much like what Keith Haring did so long ago — someone who he respected, was inspired by and also knew very well.

The pop up shop will feature different types of art available for sale, making it accessible to the general public versus the high end art that will be on display in the gallery for sale.

It's a family affair.  Crash is joined by his two daughters, Anna (left) and Kristen (right).  Anna, who has a bachelor's degree in Art History and a Master's degree in Art Business, will be running the gallery. / Image by Nina Robinson Photography
It’s a family affair. Crash is joined by his two daughters, Anna (left) and Kristen (right). Anna, who has a bachelor’s degree in Art History and a Master’s degree in Art Business, will be running the gallery. / Image by Nina Robinson Photography (Click image to enlarge)

A Family Affair

Crash plans to keep as much hands off from the gallery as possible. Anna Matos, Crash’s 24 year old daughter who has lived all her life in the art world with her father, will be running the gallery.

Anna has a bachelor’s degree in Art History from FIT as well as a master’s in Art Business.

His younger daughter Kristen has also been on hand these past several days and has been instrumental in getting the gallery space ready in time for the soft launch shortly after labor day.

One of the exhibitions before the grand opening in January 2015 will feature the photographic works of such iconic photographers like Martha Cooper, David Gonzalez, Joe Conzo, and Lisa Kahane to new a few.

Another feature of the gallery will be a rotating mural exhibition on the exterior of the space along Alexander Avenue. Tats Cru members Bio and Nicer threw up the first wall which is a tribute to Port Morris and the area’s Puerto Rican heritage, a group which has been in the neighborhood for over 50 years.

Once open in January the gallery is scheduled to be open from Wednesdays through Sunday but most likely will also be by appointment only in the beginning.

WallWorks NY will be yet another welcomed addition to the vast number of cultural institutions throughout the South Bronx which only keeps on growing.  The art scene in the borough, which has always been strong throughout its history, is indeed thriving and shows no signs of slowing down.

Crash / Image by Karah Schaffer Photography
Crash / Image by Karah Shaffer Photography (Click image to enlarge)
A soft launch for WallWorks NY will be held on September 12th. The main opening will be held in January 2015.
A soft launch for WallWorks NY will be held on September 12th. The main opening will be held in January 2015. (Click image to enlarge)
WallWorks NY will be ready in just a few short weeks. Kristen Matos, Crash's daughter has been helping get the space ready along with her sister Anna.
WallWorks NY will be ready in just a few short weeks. Kristen Matos, Crash’s daughter has been helping get the space ready along with her sister Anna. (Click image to enlarge)
Crash goes over some artwork with an artist for the gallery.
Crash goes over some artwork with an artist for the gallery. (Click image to enlarge)
Mural for WallWorks NY on Alexander Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard by Tats Cru legends Bio and Nicer.  The wall is scheduled to change several times a year.
Mural for WallWorks NY on Alexander Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard by Tats Cru legends Bio and Nicer. The wall is scheduled to change several times a year. (Click image to enlarge)

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