I was reading ArtNews yesterday and came across Graffiti NYC in one of the ads. It wasn’t remarkable simply because it was there, graffiti is mentioned often enough in ArtNews that I don’t even notice any more. No, what was crazy about it is the obvious attention the book pays to the grimy, illegal side of graffiti that is, at best, glossed over most of the time in favor of the (much) easier to sell muralist world. On the cover is a NOXER throw-up and both SKUF YKK and MQ DMS* are mentioned by name in the description. Any book that features that pair is onto something in my book and the pure fact that they’re being featured is a stunner in this day and age where complete phonies can get gallery space (trust me, I’ve hung next to absolute FRAUDS) and illegal street graffiti is downplayed in favor of 60 can productions done alongside a break-dancing battle, a best MC contest and bar-b-q cook-off.
Don’t get me wrong, I love burners and style as much as the next man, but I will never let my old age and legal eagle status keep me from believing that illegal art, the stuff people risk life and liberty to do, is a lot more valuable than some people inside the culture give it credit for…
*By the way, I wonder if either were offended by being mentioned in the same sentence the same way Cope was offended by being linked to SMITH because of Getting Up?
Speaking of style, one thing that I’m not afraid to share is the idea that Europeans are currently the masters of style. People like Dare, Can2, Delta INC, Swet, Daim, Kent and (the absolute style master right now) Bates are a scary majority of the writers that have excited and motivated me over the past ten or so years and if you take OUT people that I knew about in the 80s/ early 90s, the number of American writers that really get me going is really tiny indeed. (Want one exception: Ewok 5mh. There are others, of course, but he’s the first that comes to mind.) Europeans are doing NYC styles better than most NYC writers and in terms of pure creativity and variety of styles, the continent can’t be beat. There’s so much re-tread, retro garbage graffiti in the USA these days, I can’t even bare to look any more.
Will that change? I’m betting it will as the trends in style have to shift around at some point. I’m just hoping it’s soon because, just like in basketball, we really ought to be at the top of the game.
[edited a couple of days later to add:]
How could I forget HOW and NOSM when roll-calling European writers! Those guys did the two best pieces in recent Boston history when they painted the handball court.