My homeboy King Solomon does things. Like he plays records. He ruins Eames chairs. He scoffs at transplants who call it “their New York.” And he also knows more about graffiti than most people. I’m not talking “street art” which is a cringe-worthy term in itself and should be strictly be relegated to describing nothing but Toynbee Tiles. I’m talking about graffiti – the kind that your mother doesn’t like and the kind that Madison Avenue isn’t so keen to put on the front of an energy drink can.
So it’s usually someone that has a particular type of insiders perspective that makes me take note of things that are graffiti oriented in both documentation and dissemination. I am the worlds biggest sceptic when it comes to the selling of an art form that can never truly be owned because that runs counter to the base incentive as to why writers bomb. People who write graffiti don’t do it so it can be owned they do it to own, territorial pissings aside. But every once in a while something comes around and makes me say “Yeah, they got that one right.” For instance, the “Art In The Streets” show at MOCA, they got that one right…
Jean Michel Basquiat “St. Joe Louis Surrounded By Snakes”
Chosen Few Motorcycle Gang clubhouse initiation signs (Artist unknown)
Cornbread (Philadelphia, PA)
IRAK Wall with Earsnot & Sace (RIP)
Roa wall panel (detail)
C.R. Stecyk posters wall
Espo “Street Market” (Detail)
Cost & Revs
(As an aside, a big big shame on you to The Brooklyn Museum for caving to public pressure and to the myopic views and reporting of such “esteemed” publications like The New York Post and The Daily News. Brooklyn Museum, I love you like no other, but you know that Art In The Streets belongs here in New York, it deserves to be shown here.)
This was a well thought out and executed show, but it doesn’t surprise me since Jeffrey Deitch decided to bring in Roger Gastman into the mix to help curate the show. Which just goes to show that there has been a decidedly interesting shift of power whereas the old guard now looks to the youth to find ways to make themselves relevant. A recent article in Billboard illustrates the point just so. In business, in music, in art, in order to stay relevant one must trust in the youth. It has always been that way, but the stakes and the numbers are just a lot higher these days. But also understand that this “youth” now are the ones that are holding the reigns. One may have scoffed at the usage of Iggy Pop “Lust For Life” to peddle Carnival Cruises but let’s not forget that campaign was probably put together by someone whom had an intrinsic connection to that song and thought it conveyed a certain energy (It does have a banging beat, so why not use it to endorse family fun instead of nihilistic heroin abuse.)
But I digress – enough tangents for today. Let me get back to the crux of this post – I am off to Miami this Sunday to do a show that just happens to coincide with Art Basel and the show itself is in the Wynwood area of Downtown Miami. I’ve been frequenting Wynwood for years now and have watched it grow from a really grimy, shady, almost scary section of town where it’s easy to throw warehouse parties and a place which is definitely rip for graffiti writers to get busy, to a neighborhood with posh lounges, art galleries, and foot traffic with money to burn. And of course, The Wynwood Walls. My man King Solomon’s new film series Here Comes The Neighborhood documents the taking over of the Wynwood district and creating what is possibly the worlds biggest outdoor graffiti installation. Each episode will showcase a different artist that participated (Futura, Shepard Fairey, Kenny Scharf…) and documents the transition of this community through this public art project. Or maybe this “street art” project. Fuck it – let’s just call it like it is. It was GRAFFITI created and beautified a neighborhood, not destroyed it. So you should just mosey over to HCTN and check out all the episodes. Respek
I’m fortunate enough to count some truly remarkable artists among some of my closest friends. One of those friends is none other than the legendary David “Chino” Villorente. Dave is a true master of the art form and one of the dudes that’s been able to take his love for this and extend it to another plateau though the Piecebook Series, done by him and another friend of mine, Ego Trip’s Sacha Jenkins. The third installment of the series, World Piecebook: Global Graffiti Drawings showcases artists from 30 different countries from around the globe. Published by Prestel, this 120 page hardcover book is like a visual wet-dream to me, and it features prominently my all-time favorite European artist, Copenhagen’s own Bates AIO. As someone who appreciates and sees the perfection within the imperfections, Bates is one of those artists that is so clean and precise that it basically hurts my heart and makes me want to cry.
For those that like graffiti, “street art” (whatever the fuck that shit is,) nice books, pretty pictures, or just want to seem hipper than hip, you should purchase a copy of World Peace Book today and then you’ll already start amassing cool points the moment you click the button. But don’t do it just cause I said so…
THE touchstone of classic contemporary graffiti documentation is in peril. Style Wars, the greatest film on graffiti that has ever been produced, is in jeopardy for its life, with the original negatives of the film having reached a critical point of deterioration from shoddy storage and the effects of time. But efforts are underway to raise funds to save the film for future generations so that they can learn about this revolutionary time in New York City. Public Art Films has taken the helm to create a HD version of the film from the original print 16mm print. This is a labor of love, and for something that I love so very much. Read more about the restoration process, and feel free to donate to what I consider to be a very worthy cause.
You know, they’re killing the arts. Fuck all those motherfuckers… Let’s save ourselves.
So yeah, I used to be a graffiti writer. And when I say “used to” that actually means that I always will be, even if I don’t actually lend my talent to writing on walls anymore. But it’s just one of those things that, once you have been “there” it never really leaves you. You write your name in the steam on the wall while you shower, you break your neck checking out new work while you ride the train, you see a wall and there’s a little voice in you that might say “A can of Rusto with a Kitchen Magic cap would look SO GOOD on that…” It’s the little things really. Kind of like how an ex-skater can see a certain ledge and go “Damn that looks like it would be fun to ride” and then will continue walking by. I might start talking a little more about my graf history in the coming months. It’s always good for stories, and I’ve got plenty… But I digress!
Here’s a really sick photo gallery of old school California / Mexican / Cholo graffiti taken in what has to be the 70s. Now Cholo graff is it’s own entity – completely unique and in it’s own world. I grew up in Philly and it’s widely recognized that Philly is one of the birthplaces of graffiti – specifically called “the birthplace of style” by my man Espo. Philly writers been doing their thing for a while. I remember my mom telling me about “Bobby Beck In 59” being up all over the place. There were all the writers from the late 60s and early 70s that got into the action like Cornbread, Cool Earl, Top Cat, Tity, Dr. Kool among others. Of course there also were the guys from the late 70s and early 80s that were the ones that inspired me to get my name “out there” – names like Clyde, Estro, Pez, E-Z, Mr. Blint, Deadhead, Credit, Jay-Cee, Razz, Japan, Kozmo and my local neighborhood kings, Pap & Brez. But that Cali Cholo shit is on another level, and it goes back all the way to the 1920s. Real ill behavior. Peep the joints below…
This lady has got so much flavor… she kinda looks like and reminds me of my moms. Okay, you can peep all the rest at Kid Deuce’s “Golden Age Of Gang Graffiti” Flickr. So yeah, I’m gonna start going through my old flicks, sketches, all that hot shit, start posting it up. Until then I’m gonna leave you with couple jawns from some dudes that really fucked my head up (in a proper way) back in the day… Kadism and Zephyr – 2 dudes from different cities. Kings in their own right, and 2 of the biggest influences on me as a writer.
Dr. Dre "Genocide"
Dimitri From Brooklyn "Right My File"
Aroop Roy "Quem Vai Querer"
Young Thug "Pacifier"
Soul Supreme AFK "Pook La Ky Ky"
Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment "Go"
Sean Price "Boom Bye Yeah"
Major Lazer X Stro Elliot "Lean On Back"
Sylvester "I Need Somebody To Love Tonight"
BAKERS DOZEN BONUS
Boogie Down Productions "Ya Know The Rules"
Michael Boothman Touch "What You Won't Do For Love"
Just Blaze "Inhuman Nature"