Panel Discussion to support the Vandal Squad book
Joseph Rivera, Author
Lieutenant Steven Mona, former Comanding Officer
Ken Chiuli, OG VS Lieutenant
Ellis G, Street Artist
Moderated by Stern Rockwell, Streets Are Saying Things
Thursday, March 19, 2009 7-9pm The powerHouse Arena,
Archive for the 'books' Category
Panel Discussion to support the Vandal Squad book
In 1999, my buddy Change organized a postal sticker art show called “Going Postal” that was shown at Bobittos Footwork in Philly. He managed to get some pretty incredible submissions from all around, LA, NYC, Germany and Philly, to name a few places. A few years back I was going to show them at my work, but we ended up moving spaces right when we were going to show them and somehow it all fell through the cracks. As a result I’ve had some pretty incredible art sitting around my house and it’s really too big to show easily in my Brooklyn apartment.
Last week I happened to see Martha Cooper was putting out a postal sticker book called “Going Postal” and having a release party at Ad Hoc Gallery in Brooklyn. I wrote the gallery to see if they wanted to include the pieces I have in the show, they forwarded it on to Martha to see what she thought. Martha was into showing the pieces and made sure I got them over to the gallery.
It was fun taking them over there, as the guys were geeked to see old Twist, Cost and Shepard Fairey stuff.
I hadn’t been to an opening in a long, long time. For some reason I decided to go, even though I had in-laws in town and I normally don’t care for openings. A took a couple of people tand had a great time. I didn’t know a single person there (except for Martha and the gallery folks that I met while dropping off the work). It was cool seeing some new faces in the scene, even if it wasn’t a hardcore graffiti event. I actually think it was like a breath of fresh air for it not to be the same old, same old. I did get to meet 2Fly, who was cool as hell.
Coincidentally, the next night I got a call from my boy Ben Higa, who is a well known photographer/journalist in LA. He hadn’t been going to shows in a couple of years, either, but just started getting involved recently. We both realized that we have some unfinished business in the scene. Stay tuned.
This text wasn’t used, but I kind of poured my heart into it and finally found a home for it here.
Very early on in graffiti’s storied history, Style became the most important contribution that writing has made to the lexicon of modern art. This has been steadily reinforced by mainstream society, even as graffiti penalties become stiffer and more severe. It is not uncommon to see graffiti writers or ex-writers in the boardrooms of the biggest multinational companies, discussing the next ad campaign or new branding initiative. Writers are now included in the most important art shows in the major art centers of Europe and the United States.
When taken in this context there is no way Style can mean the same thing in the medium of the New York Transit System (where I’m writing this right now) and the walls of Greece. The influences of the local area will always make the writing localized and individualized. This diversity is what will make graffiti strong in the coming years.
In that same way, it is important that every scene around the world publish books and make websites. Train writers from the 70s and 80s often complain about the lack of respect they get, all the while holding on to their photos and blackbooks in secret stashes that, if released to the light of day, would prove their worthiness in the annals of style.
But, before you think you’ve done something new, go to New York and do your homework. It’s probably been done, but that’s ok. This is a medium of communication just as much as it is a form of art. If it wasn’t, the tag wouldn’t continue to hold the appeal today that it originally did. The tag hasn’t lost its relevance. It’s still the building block for all the masters of wildstyle. If you can’t write your name with Style using a single marker, your masterpieces will be anything but masterful. Whether you want to admit it to yourself or not, there is a math and science behind writing and what makes one piece look good next to another one. That’s why you must do your homework and learn from the masters.
The kids today might think of Erni, Delta, Daim and Loomit as being the innovators of dimensional or 3D style, when Flint 707, Pistol and Malta S.A. did pieces without outlines in the 70’s. Then you had writers like Noc that had no use for dimensions, and blurred the lines in many ways. Kase2 and others regularly twisted things by throwing a 3D into an outline very early on. Phase2’s Cad pieces could be done today and still come off as revolutionary. Lesser known names like Cliff, Riff, Vamm, Crachee and Pel belong next to Stay High, Phase2, Blade, Kase2and the others mentioned above.
In the highly realistic, muralistic graffiti world we live in today, there were other innovators like Slick and Hex in Los Angeles. They were maybe the first writers outside of Philly and New York to make the writers of the East Coast take notice that something was happening in other places. The subject matter had changed when graffiti started making a name for itself on the West Coast. Although there have been plenty of Style innovations made by writers in Los Angeles, the innovations in the techniques of painting characters are what Los Angeles mainly contributed to writing. But what really put Los Angeles on the map? It was the publication of Ghetto Art Magazine, which later became Can Control. That same magazine is what put Gkae and Saber in folk’s minds, even though they had been pushing the limits of bombing for quite sometime and had already developed quite a reputation with the law. Twist and his cronies in San Francisco were making progress there, but weren’t really noticed or talked about until they started getting around and talked about on the Internet.
If you don’t know about these guys, start doing your research: Shorty, Roach, Super Kool 223, All Jive, Billy, LSD-3, Staff 161, Ajax, Crachee, Wicked Gary, Bama, Chain, Iz, Snake 1, Lee, Tracy 168, Mare 139, Kel 1st, Shy 147, TDS, RTW, Rocstars, TMT, Doc, Crash, Daze, Doze, Zephyr, Reas, TAT and FBA.
So what’s the relevance of all of this? There is a glorious history of graffiti that’s important to understand and appreciate, but is meaningless if the art form stagnates. When new scenes are born and promoted it reinforces the importance of writing in the greater world. Without the documentation of new scenes graffiti will die, or worse, become boring. Graffiti will continue to happen in the established capitals, but the scenes are so wrapped up in their own history that innovation is sometimes impossible or not accepted. When a place like Greece, with such a rich tradition of culture and the arts stirs their style into the mix, the future of graffiti is assured.
It looks like someone took all of their Twist photos and self-published a book and put it on ebay.
Ron English is the finest technical painter in the Street Art/Graffiti game. The only person that comes close is Robbie Conal. He’s also been at it longer than a lot of the folks that are getting famous by wheatpasting clever images all around. It’s great to see that he’s still at it and being recognized for his contribution and skills. The books is available through Last Gasp.
I’ve met Ron a couple of times and was lucky enough to visit his studio once. The paintings were amazing, of course. But the thing that I really remember was a painting that was left behind by someone else. “What’s that?” I think Susan asked. “Just something Jasper left.” The Jasper was Jasper Johns.
December 13, 2007 — THE police could have ended the city’s grafitti blight in one fell swoop with a raid of Auto, the Meatpacking District boutique where “Mascots & Mugs: The Cartoons & Characters of Subway Graffiti” was launched Monday night. The book by Todd “Reas” James and David “Chino” Villorente has a foreword by novelist Jonathan (“Motherless Brooklyn”) Lethem – who had his own “tag” years ago with his brother, Blake (a k a Keo) – and drew vandals from every borough, including Kaws, Son One, West, Doc, Ven, Kaves, Pure, Cey, Lee, Wane, Sac, Haze and Noah. The place was so packed with spray-painters that graffiti fan David Rabin, a co-founder of Lotus, couldn’t even get in.
UPDATE : I don’t know them..but judging by their blog(!) Heraty Law might be the coolest law firm on the planet (next to my personal counsel). Anyway..they published some photos from the event and gave us props.
In a bid to increase the quality and quantity of graffiti, The Fakeproject Corporation of America has issued a coloring book, free of charge, which allows graffiti artists to practice their tags before application in a real world situation.
I had always hoped that I’d get my copy of Faith of Graffiti signed someday. I had also hoped I’d get to thank Norman Mailer, in person, for his mayoral campaign in NYC. Mr. Mailer ran on the secession platform, something I’ve been saying since Lil Bush won the presidency. If you don’t have a copy of Faith of Graffiti, pick one up. It’s some of the best prose ever written on graf and has some of the best photos from the era.
Thanks for contributing so much, Mr. Mailer.
Mascots & Mugs: The Characters and Cartoons of Subway Graffiti by Todd “Reas” James and David “Chino” Villorente
I’ve seen this book, and it’s as dope as can be expected from these two. It was designed by our friend Chris Capuozzo and is filled with both photos and interviews from all of the character dudes you’d ever want to read about. Todd did a great job of covering a diverse group of artists, just don’t expect many new jacks. This is a history lesson from one of the people that wrote their own chapter.
Graffiti Planet: The Best Graffiti from Around the World by Alan “Ket”
I haven’t seen this, yet, but you know it’s going to be good. Plus it’s a bargain at right around $10. Support Ket.