Ramon Vasquez, also known as “Been” was born and raised on Manhattan’s Upper West
Side in the 1960s at a time when his block, 84th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, was considered one of the most dangerous places to live in New York.
“Been” has seen New York City through the eyes of a child to Dominican immigrants who
brought with them the ways and traditions of their homeland, the Dominican Republic
where they were born.
He experienced New York City during the 1970s when the streets had
nothing to offer a young teen in search of an outlet for his artistic expression. From graffiti
black books, to street murals, clubbing and DeeJaying, T-shirt design, and taking pictures,
Been’s artistic talents and expression can now be seen through his photographic lens.
He just released his first book, “No Drips Allowed”, a photographic documentary of graffiti murals in and around New York. Last year he used his connection to the graffiti and underground arts world to curate a fundraising art auction for Strycker’s Bay Neighborhood Council, the non-profit he works for. The auction received support from artists around the world, the US and New York City. The event grossed more than $5,000.
Through his work as a youth program counselor with Strycker’s Bay, Been has touched the
lives of thousands of young people over the last 20 years and inspired many to pick up a
camera and document the world around them. As the father of a ten year old girl, Mya,
Been is committed to teaching and mentoring children to look at the world creatively and
as independent thinkers.
New York City Through My Eyes – a photography exhibit and fundraiser will present the work
of Ramon “Been” Vasquez and feature the work of other photographers who will let us take
a look at New York City through their camera lens.
About Strycker’s Bay Neighborhood Council
“I’ll never forget the Strycker’s Bay Neighborhood Council. It was one of a kind. It was
really something. It proved you could make a difference so that people were not run over
but had a little say about running things.” Joseph P. Lyford — The Airtight Cage: A Study of
New York’s West Side
Strycker’s Bay Neighborhood Council was established in 1959 as a result of the neighborhood being designated a federal urban renewal area (West Side Urban Renewal Area) to unite residents of the Upper West Side around a common effort to ensure that their community would remain ethnically, racially, and economically diverse.
Today, we are the only community-based organization on the Upper West Side (from West
59th Street to West 110th Street, Central Park West to Riverside Drive) that provides services
to low-income residents on a walk-in basis. Because of our open office policy and accessible location in the neighborhood, we are known as La Comunidad (The Community), a
place where residents can receive timely assistance, information and direct services.