“I almost sold out,” is an unlikely way for an artist to describe his first New York City exhibition. It’s even more unlikely when a show takes place for two hours on only a single night.
But that’s exactly what Wiltonian B.D. White told The Bulletin after his first show took place April 10.
“It was great. More than 300 people were coming through the space; it blew my mind and it was just crazy,” White said. “I almost sold out — it was fantastic.”
White, a 2002 Wilton High School graduate, is a Brooklyn-based street artist whose public pieces and canvas pieces often carry political messages he considers universal.
“The messages are all political or social messages, and usually, to be honest, they are messages that everyone should get behind,” he said. “All people would agree with the political statements that I put out there. They are all about freedom and equal rights. If someone disagrees with that, they’re on the wrong side of the fence.”
People might disagree with the placement — such as on the sides of buildings that have already been graffitied — he added with a laugh, “but that’s a different story.”
He ended up selling all of his small pieces, priced at around $100 each, and sold four of the nine larger pieces he had on display, which were priced around $3,000, depending on the detail.
White is the only street artist he knows who is wheelchair-bound, he said during an interview last week. He was featured in The New York Times before his first show, and the newspaper referred to him as the “street-level artist.”
He told The Times he began using a wheelchair after a track and field accident left him with a broken back.
“Vowing to walk again, White moved to Utah to enroll in a boot camp-style program for paraplegics run by a former college football player who emphasized tough love and fierce weight training,” the newspaper wrote.
“He attained a labored walking style using braces and canes, but later decided that a wheelchair was more practical, especially for executing his artwork.”
White said Friday afternoon that while his disability prevents him from reaching the areas often used by street artists — rooftops and fire escapes — it also forces him to deliver his art in a more relatable way.
“I can’t climb roofs or water towers, but that makes my art more accessible to the general public,” he said. “Most people aren’t climbing rooftops to get a closer look at a piece of street art.”
“Being limited to street level makes it so I can speak to the audience more clearly. It’s more accessible and easier to see.”
The pieces White sold last weekend were mostly completed on canvas, he said, and are more detailed and subtle than the art he makes on the street.
“When your art is in a public space, you’re trying to make your messages easily seen and easily known as people walk by. You don’t have the same ultimate subtlety or nuances as in a gallery.
“In all of my canvas pieces, there are a lot more details and a lot more depth. You get more out of them just by looking at them for a while.”
White’s New York City show took place at Anderson’s Martial Arts Academy at 394 Broadway in Manhattan.