We are ancient. The graffiti artist with whom we grew up, the Lower East Side’s ubiquitous Chico, is having a retirement party today, says the Villager, and headed to Florida, where his children live. Chico, aka Antonio Garcia, says the conditions for graffiti muralists such as himself are getting rough in New York; when he recently painted an Obama election tribute on a wall on Avenue C, he grumbles, “the building owner wanted to have me arrested.”
To be fair, he has long had a cooperative relationship with local businesses, though we have never been sure that there wasn’t a little “Chico wants you should have a mural” about it. Still, his colorful, naive, and often maudlin fades are part of the neighborhood landscape.
Chico reminisces to the Villager a bit about the old days, including his relationship with Keith Haring, whom he feels “basically exploited — both artistically and sexually — the young local graffiti writers he collaborated with… ‘I wasn’t having none of that. I’m a real artist — I’m not a faker.'”