This article was posted by West 3 years, 2 months, 2 weeks, 3 days, 9 hours, 35 minutes ago.
I noticed that Bates recently posted something about the iconic Charlie Ahearn film The Deadly Art of Survival. Outside of the film, the Poster (below) is fresh. Charlie and his crew hand screen printed these and put them up all over downtown New York. Of course they didn’t last long..
This article was posted by West 3 years, 3 months, 5 days, 20 hours, 29 minutes ago.
As a student of Martial Arts most of my life I have always felt a physical
connection to the movement of my paintings and line work. I am conscious
always that a brush stroke is as much a block or a strike, as it is the
unconscious muscular memory of letter forms.
One of my own teachers and masters of the artform is Mare 139 who has been
producing works based on the body movement and sculptural stances of B-Boys
for several years. Though not a dancer himself Mare came up with some of the
greatest B-Boys of all time, and by looking at some of his drawings it is
easy to see them as modernist portraits of the great Ken Swift or Mr.
Wiggles - both of whom by the way can burn most Graffiti artists painting
Outside of his own work, Mare is one of the few in our space who is able to
contextualize the progression of our work and place it where it belongs,
amongst other great artists and art movements of our time.
Here are two recent pieces where Mare breaks down the science an meaning of
his B-Boy studies..
This article was posted by West 3 years, 3 months, 2 weeks, 2 days, 21 hours, 14 minutes ago.
I keep this photo up on a wall in my office. I took it outside the Hayden Planetarium on 81street in September 1985. It’s a photo of the 1 line dynamic duo of Poke & Epic, with their (and my) mentor Doze. Every time I see this photo I think of those painted Jeans, and jackets that we all had. In those days mystery was important, and your identity was completely hidden to other writers. The only indication of your membership in the secret underground society would be ink or track grease on your sneakers, or the tell-tale hoodie (hood up!). Except when you wore your Lee jacket, or in this case- Jeans. On those days you absolutely had to be carrying something in your pocket in the event that someone who didn’t like you saw you rocking your denim (see the standard issue ‘Rambo’ knife in Zear’s hand below). There was no chain-tucking on those days, if you got caught in a bad spot- you were fully exposed. In fact, I learned for the first time what a few important writers actually looked like back then because I saw them their ‘colors’. My first paid hustle was painting Lee jackets for kids in my school at the time - including one for the young MC Serch, long before there was a 3rd Bass. I haven’t seen a Painted Lee jacket in a long time except for the famous Caine vest that Martha Cooper wears. I’m sure if we all dug out our closets we would find some real Jewels.
The IBM Crew - Epic, Poke, Doze 1985
Zear, Risk, and Your’s truly on a roof on 159th Street where we would take breaks from benching at 125th. My below the knee Lee’s were reserved for Mondays only.
This article was posted by West 3 years, 9 months, 1 week, 1 Day, 13 hours, 38 minutes ago.
This weekend marked the opening of the MOCA ‘Art in the Streets’ exhibition out here in L.A. - A milestone for the culture in both good and bad ways. I will offer my two cents on that here in the future, but for right now, I wanted to post something that is an integral part of this culture’s history - Graff magazines. Just as our ancestors communicated by smoke signals to alert one another of an impending attack, a method that later evolved to the ‘Polybius Square’ - one of the earliest forms of cryptographic communication, The graffiti magazine was a way for our culture to communicate over land and sea, before the internet existed.
Publishers, usually writers themselves, would gather flicks and offer commentary on what was happening in the streets and on transit. This is another medium (along with sculpture, collage, and uncountable letter styles) pioneered by the master Phase 2. In it’s earliest manifestation Phase’s IGT - International Graffiti Times offered flicks and commentary on style, but also a strong anti-establishment and highly politicized message about power (the City, The MTA), and Graffiti’s threat to /and struggle with it..It was heady stuff for young writers, but we read these cover to cover and soaked it all up. As Graffiti proliferated around the world (in no small part to these mags) they became more and more of an update about what was happening in different cities - with glossy photos, and in depth interviews. I have heard from many writers over the years, mostly from Europe and middle America - that they became aware of my/our work through these mags - a lifeline to the scene on the edges of the island built bay Subway Art..
Here a few of my favorites from the collection…
IGT from 1985 - The first time my name appeared in print Thanks to Bronx Style Bob, and the Get Hip Times
More Phase creations..
Ghetto Art showed Broadway lots of love, and had an update from Dreamster on the ‘Spray Area’ scene
Espo’s On The Go - added humor and music to the mix
BackJumps - Adrian Nabi brought the best of NYC and Europe together
Skills - by SP One (#5 shown here on the left) has a tattered train pass to La Guardia HS where we both went in 1987
Im sure many people are unaware that 12 Oz Prophet was a magazine, before it was a site. It took the quality and layout to another level. Can Control issue #4 (right) was my first feature interview in a magazine
Crazy Kings was short lived but covered Rammellzzee, and later the historic Patterson Graffitiathon..
“Sit down and read. Educate yourself for the coming conflicts.” -Mary Harris “Mother” Jones
This article was posted by West 3 years, 10 months, 3 weeks, 4 days, 1 hour, 50 minutes ago.
There are many young artists out there doing amazing things in their studios, and in the streets. One in particular that impresses and inspires me is JR. Seeing his work makes me proud of the Culture and the community of artists that we belong to. Last night out here in Long Beach he made a presentation at the TED conference where he has won the prestigious TED prize for 2011. You can read about both JR and TED here.
This article was posted by West 3 years, 11 months, 3 days, 10 hours, 25 minutes ago.
Much has been written and discussed about the Graffiti 1980 Studio. Spearheaded by Sam Esses (R.I.P) along with Futura, and Zephyr in 1979-80, this was the first time that this generation of Masters had put their work on canvas. Previous Graffiti artists from the 70’s had exhibited their work in organized shows. However, by 79-80 style writing was in it’s rennaisance, and this collection features many of the great masters of the day including Dondi, Zephyr, Crash, Daze, Futura, T-Kid, and Kel, among others. The Studio sessions were documented by Rafael Pasquera and Henry Chalfant
showing these young artists touching the void, and investigating a new space for their work. It’s worth remembering that while this was going on every one of them was ROCKING the train lines.
There is a lot of history, and some controversy surrounding the collection. I am not qualified to speak in depth on either (see the links below). However, in the winter of 2004 I went to meet with Sam Esses to look at this collection at his home in East Hampton. The paintings were stored in the basement and the lighting was poor. The first one I saw was a Kel canvas and my heart dropped. Then one after another - Bilrock, Tracy 168, Mare 139, Pink, Shy, Cos, ....each one lit up as I pulled them out from the dark. I could feel the energy pulsing from those paintings, and I had the sense that I had come accross some kind of time capsule. The first thought that came to mind was walking through a dark train tunnel and seeing masterpieces lined up one after the other.
I was left alone with them for a while and at the end after viewing all of the stretched canvases I unrolled two of my favorites -
one was a Kel / Crash Blockbuster with space ships and planets that felt like a whole car, and the other one hidden in the corner was the best - the practice canvas where everyone tested their paint - full of tags from all of them including Mackie, Rasta, and Noc.
This is a monumental collection. I look forward to the day that I am walking throught the halls of The Smithsonian, or
some other great museum and seeing these paintings -including the canvas with the tags - in the light for all to see.