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Chris "Daze" Ellis: The City is My Muse on view at the Museum of the City of New York
Chris “Daze” Ellis, Queensboro Plaza, 2010. Oil, spray paint, and acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the Artist.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of the City of New York presents Chris “Daze” Ellis: The City is My Muse, a visual journey through the five boroughs as seen in the paintings of Christopher Ellis, best known by his street name, Daze, who gained notoriety and fame as a teenager painting trains in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The trail Chris Ellis blazed from subways to canvasses gives him a unique ability to bring the city, his lifelong home, to life.

Ellis, as Daze, was a highlight of the City Museum’s 2014 exhibition, City As Canvas: Graffiti Art from the Martin Wong Collection. A work that he created on the Museum’s front terrace in 2013 was included inCity as Canvas and appears again in this exhibition.

“Chris Ellis’ career exemplifies the story of our city incubating and inspiring creativity, and with this exhibition he has chosen to share his muse with the world,” said Susan Henshaw Jones, Ronay Menschel Director of the City Museum. “Chris’ distinctive studio paintings will bring the diversity and energy of the five boroughs to life on the walls of the City Museum, and we are delighted to present his work once more.”

Ellis, who attended High School of Art & Design in Manhattan, began his transition to studio art in 1980 at Sam Esses Studio as part of a two-month project to introduce the best graffiti writers to the studio setting. Throughout the 1980s, Ellis diligently developed a studio practice that drew upon the original energy and attitude of the graffiti movement and combined it with more traditional modes of figurative representation and narrative, using spray paint as well as oil and acrylic.

Curated by Sean Corcoran, Curator of Prints and Photographs at the City Museum, The City is My Muse includes older work on canvas as well as his more recent paintings of iconic NYC scenes and settings like Times Square, Coney Island, the Staten Island Ferry and the intricacies of the subway system. The show features dozens of paintings, photographs, etchings, and ephemera.

“Daze’s paintings are unique in their fusion of street style and easel painting,” explained Corcoran. “His paintings are imbued with memory of the New York of his youth, but remain unbound by nostalgia. Ellis celebrates the city in its present form, from the colorful lights of Times Square to the calm of the Staten Island Ferry.”

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