I first ran into Melvin Samuels, a.k.a. NOC 167, in 1984 at Fun Gallery. It was a group show. He had a long narrow spray can painting. His name took up most of the canvas. This was the time when the art world was opening up to graffiti. A year before, Keith Haring had one of his first one person shows at Fun Gallery, inspired by writers like NOC 167 and Lee, another graffiti artist. At this time Melvin was a well - known writer, having painted over 200 subway cars. His famous car, entitled "Style Wars" - considered one of the best subway cars ever painted - was reproduced in 1991's High and Low exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.
Melvin was born in Manhattan in 1961 and grew up in the Bronx throughout the 60's and 70's. His mother was an administrator in the Lindsay Administration. Melvin went to John F. Kennedy High School on 225th Street in the North Bronx. While in high school, he participated in classes at the School of Visual Arts designed especially for talented young students. There, he learned basic animation. Inspired by his older brother's tags, Melvin also started doing graffiti.
NOC's intro to art was through comic books. In his early works, the electronic video age of Pac - Man influenced him, but it eventually wore off. Melvin also painted public murals, including one at the Bronx Graffiti Roller Disco. Before the hip - hop movement started, his style was also inspired by disco culture, mechanical beats combined with afrocentric and psychedelic designs. As a teenager, he spent a lot of time hanging out in the video halls of Times Square, where his friends from the outer boroughs would go with their Adidas, sweat pants and cardboard, and break - dance in the streets. His palette eventually became a combination of the primal colors of super heroes, the neon lights of Time Square, and the hypnotizing grooves of hip - hop music and dance.
After being discharged from school at 21, Melvin got his GED. In the early 80's, he flirted with some classes at Parsons, the School of Visual Arts, and FIT. None of his teachers recognized graffiti as an art form, and quickly he dropped out. His real education came from his training as a graffiti artist. NOC started using subway trains as his canvases. Toward the end of the 1970's, Melvin's style shifted toward something particularly innovative. He participated in the second generation of graffiti writing - "wild style" - taking graf to new heights, elaborating on 3D - stlye drawing, creating more speed and movement with his letters and breaking the mold of the formal, straight - up bubble letter of the early 70's. It was around this time that Charlie Ahearn started his film, 'Wild Style,' a classic cult film about the subculture of break dancing and graffiti. NOC, along with fellow graf writer Zeph, designed the animated intro to this film.
The codes and voodoo markings that graf writers worked with, like uncontrollable vines, were the common connection of their subculture. This language defined their identity in a city that gave them no name. The peak of the graffiti invasion was contrasted by the blank architecture of the 70's, a style that valued cheap costs and the speed of construction. Some of the most dehumanizing buildings ever, in the history of urban architecture, were built during this era. Architects of this generation even admitted that their buildings were meant to be torn down in 50 years. It was said that gang violence had dissipated for this short time, when the blank city walls and skyscrapers were colored with spray paint, dancing electric flowers clinging to each wall like irrepressible weeds. As Lee said, "It was a generation of a colorful sweat that ceased to be unknown."... http://www.noc167.com/about.html