José Parlá, Diary of Brooklyn

"José Parlá started out as a graffiti artist. He’s Cuban-American, and his family, like many other Cuban families, came to Miami and spent a lot of time there before moving to New York. He bought and lives/works out of the old Spike Lee studio just two blocks away. He started out doing graffiti work and graduated with a fine arts degree.

His studio was too small to accommodate a piece of this scale, because he really wanted to make this as a single piece instead of in parts. It was important for him to see the scale all at once, because the colors move, so we gave him studio space in one of the buildings we have on site, and then we moved it over.

José is very interested in this whole typography. He wanted to convey his own experience of being an immigrant and a young artist in Brooklyn, so he uses typography as a way of experimenting and sharing his world. While the words are not necessarily legible, some of them can be made out like 'Dekalb' for Dekalb Avenue.

This piece is major for us, because you can see it from the exterior of the building; you don’t need a ticket to see it. The Brooklyn Academy of Music also has a piece of his that is visible from the street, which is cool because it's a real neighborhood connection, and it relates to what we are trying to do in reaching out to the cultural community."