Tuesday, June 29, 2010

TRUCK ART A Decade of Graffiti

TRUCK ART A Decade of Graffiti
Tod Lange & Paul Cavalieri
Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.
Soft Cover 160 pages 290 full color photos

I have eagerly awaited this book for some time. It was well worth the wait. For about ten years TL ONE has been hosting an exclusive invitation-only painting spot near New York City. The canvases at this location are tractor trailers, mobile homes and other vehicles destined for scrap. Some of New York City's most well known writers have painted there. In addition to work by TL ONE and CAVS the book features paintings by about 50 writers including BLADE, GHOST, HENCE, MAZE, MONE, NOAH TFP, PART ONE, POET, POES, REAS, SEIN 5, SPAR ONE, TEAM GO CLUB, WANE, WOLF, ZEPHYR and others. A great collection of burners and blockbusters spanning a decade.

Grab it!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Meet the Original Stay High 149? I ain't buying it.

A few weeks back this video by Steven Hager of High Times Magazine came onto my radar.

It is an interview with Luis Berrios. Most of you in New York's urban art community are probably aware of the fact that Berrios is claiming that he wrote STAY HIGH 149 before Wayne Roberts did.

Initially it piqued my interest, but only for its trivial if not amusing nature. But, after giving the deal a bit more thought, It really got under my skin.

From my perspective there are several big holes in Berrios' story. First up, when Berrios came on the the scene in the late '80s early '90s he told several writers who were active at the time that he was STAY HIGH 149, but he neglected to tell them that he was NOT the STAY HIGH that became famous on the subway, in New York Magazine and in Norman Mailer's Faith of Graffiti. The fact that he waited until the 2000s when Roberts came back on the scene to make the distinction is suspicious.

Second thing is when Roberts came back he would occasionally append his tag with "Since 1969'". I found it odd that Berrios did not begin to claim to have started writing in 1966 until after the Roberts "Since 1969'" tags began to appear.

The few supporters that Berrios has--few of which are writers, by the way--state that Berrios has nothing to gain because he admits Roberts made the name famous. On the contrary, Berrios has plenty to gain. STAY HIGH 149 is one of the most, if not the most celebrated and influential tags in New York's history. There is plenty of glory to be had in saying you played even a minor hand in creating it. In the graffiti world an individual has to devote significant time and effort to earn a place in history, even as a footnote.

STAY HIGH is a common nick name in the hood. There are dozens of them. Just like all the CHINOs, SHORTY WOPs, LIL MANs and BLACK BOYs, there are plenty of STAY HIGHs. Perhaps Berrios did write STAY HIGH. I won't contest that, but there is only one STAY HIGH 149 and that's Wayne Roberts... Voice of the Ghetto!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Doze Green "Taino" print release

Yo! Peace will be releasing a new hand-pulled serigraph by Doze Green,
featuring his classic character style on June 11 2010.

"Taino" is a signed and numbered edition of 100. White ink on Arches
Black paper (250gsm). 11 x 30 inches (28 x 76 cm).

Onsale at yodepot.com at 1pm (PST) on Friday, June 11.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Style Wars Restoration Project

The classic film Style Wars is by far one of the most exceptional documentations of our culture. An important restoration project is under way-- MARE 139 dropped some knowledge.

MARE 139: The Style Wars project is an integral part of urban art culture as well as a document of American art history as it chronicled a pivotal period of the art vs transit movement and the art vs itself epoch. The capturing of all these dynamic elements, which had been in play for years before, is a testament to the sociopolitical environment in which many young people who where disenfranchised found empowerment via this art called 'graffiti'. The film was a mirror for us who were active writers and served as window to the rest of the world of the conditions that forced us to use creativity and 'vandalism' as a self certifying means of expression. I use the term 'vandalism' lightly as one can see from the film the movement was a counterinsurgency to the economic and political 'vandalism' imposed on us by city governance.

This absence of resources gave birth to the Hip Hop movement and street art movement, it was an issue of scarcity and personal necessity that one can see from the vantage of the writers in the film. Keep in mind this is a time capsule in which Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant captured as much of what was in front of them as possible, the culture and art was widespread throughout the boroughs and it was a diverse group that was a part of it, the film manages to be honest for its time and place and though not meant to be an end all be all film about the culture it has many of its seminal players of the time and also captures a glimpse of what the future was to hold for the movement.

It is vital to understand the influence of such a film for the sake of history, culture history and cultural rights. We have in the past 20 years seen the culture bend and expand into new spaces and interpretations which is a double edge sword because so much of it has no reflective connection to the generations that proceeded it, this disconnect is apparent in today's youth so much so that it has created a great divide among young artist and the cultures pioneers. Also included is this dilemma is market of art which has no interest in the history of this art in particular, granted the world has moved beyond the subways and the art of the time to some degree but the implications of a movement like this and a film that captures it is vital because its global influence and affect on art and culture has transcended any period of art before it in artistic participation.

Saving the archival footage and including additional materials will safely preserve an important archive of NYC history as well as the individual legacies of those involved. It is important for people who are involved in the culture or interested to help preserve this film since there is no archive equivalent to it nor is there one as compelling. It is a part of a bigger puzzle being pieced together by our community to tell our story and to honor those before us and that is where cultural legacy and rights come into play because by and large these issues are contained by larger institutions that buy out and shelf these archives to later apply all kinds of restrictions to access and fair use. This is our history our story and we have a right and duty to preserve and share it accordingly. Those who want to get involved should visit the website and donate money or time to the effort. We are scratching the surface but I feel that as we continue to engage in self determination and through the cooperation of the public and the creative community we can see this project restored and preserved for future generations.

Go to www.stylewars.com for more info.

Graffiti vs. Street Art

It seems that it is becoming increasingly difficult for graffiti and street art to coexist peacefully. Feels like a bit of a culture clash is erupting.

Sad thing to see this amazing mural by Fairey get banged up. ADEK and a few others did throw ups on it, not once but several times.

First and foremost I'm a fan of graffiti and I'm rarely excited by street art, so I'm a bit biased in the war. But Fairey is talented and put in real work on the street well before his commercial success. He has also collaborated with many writers including NYC LASE and COPE 2. I also dig ADEK, He is a classic street bomber with a sweet throw-up and memorable handstyle. He's had the Lower East Side locked for at least three years now.

I can only speculate on what ADEK's motivation is. Could be retaliation for work Fairey dissed. Could be a territorial statement. Who knows? It could also be part of the growing tension between (graffiti) writers and street artists.

Writers have been taking public space for decades and established a set of rules and terms of respect for each other's work in the race for space. A lot of street artists apparently don't know the rules or don't care to abide by them. They regularly apply wheat paste and stencil work over well-established graffiti artists.

By the same token most writers have complete disregard for street art. They will paint over it without hesitation. Many writers see street artists as art school chumps and don't expect them to toss knuckles when their work is dissed.

The war will be interesting to watch.
Eric Deal

Animal New York has a shot of the earlier attack.