Doesn’t it seem like we are striving for excellence in our artistic community? What is being traded in for depth of substance? I have traveled all over this country and seen some of the best graffiti. But with a lot of the “art” communities in this town, graffiti turns into the same ol’-same ol’ clique politics and elitist snobs.
With Juxtapoz, but more importantly ESPO’s The Art of Getting Over, every bored kid in every small town in America thought, “Hey, that’s the life for me.”
Graffiti in Asheville is horrible! A very small fraction of these self-described “writers” are actually good, and even that is just a matter of opinion and interpretation. It is mainly a lack of education that will ultimately land most of them with tremendous fines and, for some, unfortunately, jail time.
I started doing graff illegally, at first, when I was 15. I am now 32. I went to an art school in Jax, Fla., and most of us visual artists also did graff. We spent a lot of time with use of color and being quick. The task force in Jacksonville started busting down because they wanted to clean up the town.
So most of us took the direction of embracing this form as an art—asking permission from local businesses, which allowed us to do it in the open, legally, with permission. I found that you could get paid to do this. Look, the city is a canvas. There have to be some ethics. When you receive permission for a piece of property and then, because of your over-inflated sense of worth, [you] go and use your moniker, you are not only putting that business or property owner in jeopardy of becoming a snitch—you are jeopardizing the true respect the art form deserves.
I do believe strongly that America could do more to embrace this art form. In a lot of European countries, it’s practically legal. Here is a small list of some of the places I feel could be made available to us for our use: abandoned buildings, trash cans, electrical boxes, dumpsters, bathroom walls, train cars, alleyways, doors that lead nowhere, garage doors, mailboxes, mail trucks, cargo containers, all commercial retail stores (like Wal-Mart etc.)—the backs of these buildings are usually huge blank surfaces. Art is attractive, and people like pretty stuff. Anyhoo, the list could truly go on and on, and I have valid reasons for everything on the list.
In closing, don’t kid yourselves that there isn’t really any good graffiti in Asheville yet. And remember, you can paint a turd gold, but it is still a turd. Do not be fooled by any of these “toy” writers who have imaged their own greatness. Viva la revolution.
— Marshall “GP” Pyle