Graffiti Writer ZEXOR Declares War On Gentrification, Street Artists, and the Bushwick Collective

January 22, 2015 | Bucky Turco

ZEXOR, a graffiti writer born and bred in NYC, has been on a rampage lately, defacing (or beautifying, depending on who you talk to) one mural after another with spray paint. His main target? The Bushwick Collective, an ongoing street art project that facilitates the painting of scores of walls by urban artists.

The Collective was founded in 2011 by lifelong Bushwick resident Joe Ficalora as a way to combat area graffiti, which he sees an eyesore. Billing himself as a “accidental curator” in published interviews, Ficalora has convinced dozens of property owners to let artists of his choosing paint their walls or rolldown gates. This roster of artists is constantly growing as the walls are painted on a rotating basis. Not surprisingly, he’s not too keen on giving graffiti writers walls to paint. Although he has made some exceptions, he even has a rule against painting letters or murals that look too much like graffiti. He also doesn’t allow murals that he deems too offensive or political.


In the past two weeks, ZEXOR has managed to tag virtually every Bushwick Collective mural with his name, disrupting countless walls painted by the likes of VERS, Jerkface, Herb Smith, Danielle Mastrion, Lmnopi* (pictured above), Lady Aiko, Bishop, URNewYork, See One, Nychos, Sexer, Dasic Fernandez and Col Walnuts, among others. Even after the artists restored their pieces, he returned a second and third time. One artist retaliated with smiley faces over ZEXOR’s tags. (*Lmnopi’s mural was commissioned and although it’s in the same vicinity as the other walls, it’s not part of Bushwick Collective.)

ANIMAL reached out to Ficalora about ZEXOR’s graffiti binge and he said: “No comment.” Meanwhile on Instagram, many of the street artists whose work has been ragged in the past week or so are using the social media platform to air the grievances, mostly to the delight of ZEXOR, who sees these artists and the Bushwick Collective itself, as forces of gentrification.

“The Bushwick Collective doesn’t help either when the director himself is all about gentrification,” wrote ZEXOR in response to a critic on Instagram. “He brings in these artist [sic] from all around the world to Bushwick and ultimately many people like it and what was considered…the poorest neighborhood in all of NYC is now…the most expensive to live in. So don’t tell me about my hood and who has done what you know nothing. You’re the outsider we want out.”

(Photos: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)