NOC 167 (Melvin Samuels Jr.) paints large-scale canvases with the same energy and style he pioneered when painting subway trains in the 1970s, taking “wildstyle” to new heights with his three-dimensional lettering, disco- and neon-influenced color palette and comic-book-like characters. NOC 167 has the distinction of painting one of the most iconic subway trains in the history of the subway movement, entitled “Style Wars.” The left side of the multipaneled piece featured a subway train painted in perspective coming out of a train yard and toward the viewer. On the right-hand side was a Ralph Bakshi /Vaughn Bode–inspired character, with the “Style Wars” lettering dead center, designed as a play on the movie Star Wars. Born in Manhattan in 1961 and raised in the Bronx as the youngest of six children, NOC attended the School of Visual Arts with classmate Keith Haring. NOC was one of the artists featured in the Fashion MODA Graffiti Art Success show in 1980; it was the first gallery exhibition for graffiti since UGA in 1975. He would later go on to show with the elite Sidney Janis Gallery and remains in their personal collection.
BEYOND THE STREETS New York, 2019. Photo by Martha Cooper.