Graffiti is in the eye of the beholder

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
Asheville

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17 thoughts on “Graffiti is in the eye of the beholder

  1. Piffy!

    Funny, since the letter-writer’s own ‘work’ is, in general, mocked in the local graffiti community.

    -Dave

  2. The Satellite Gallery

    I am a gallerist that supports the Arts community in this town. Urban Contemporary and Pop Surrealism is my thing and graffiti falls right in there with both styles. What Marshall says is true there is a lot of graff that goes up in town that is “chicken scratch” and very vandalistic….this is by no means “art”. The other side is that there a few people and crews out there that do amazing work and if given the right opportunity and space will create something amazing. As a gallerist I welcome all artists to come and show me what they’ve got. I support art and talent, I do not support just one side of things or just one group of people. This is a community and I am very community forward.

    What I am very pissed off about right now is that someone VANDALIZED my gallery over this past weekend by putting super glue in the lock. This happened because of an incident that has nothing to do with the gallery. I feel this is someone who is attached to letter writer. Things need to be made right.

  3. travelah

    How do you know it wasn’t an artistic surreal display of superglue performed by one of the unfortunate displaced and misunderstood, not to mention under appreciated, street artists just looking to express itself? Of course it might have been a disgruntled couple whose car had been towed from nearby although shame on them if that was the case.

    More than likely it was a tuckfard giggling at his huff induced stupidity. I feel for you.

  4. dave

    “I feel this is someone who is attached to letter writer. ”

    no big guess who that would be.

  5. doughnut gangster

    no one ever tried to paint you gold,
    You must be hot in that nut sweater
    waka waka waka

  6. where is the good asheville graffiti

    Seriously, most of the graffiti in asheville is trash. Oh great job “moms” you are so talented that you tagged moms 20′ x 20′. To bad it looks like i pissed into the snow. Oh man, tride is so heady he grade schooled every utility pole in asheville. And Kyle, wow! How did you get so good at block letters? Ok so i’ve seen one good moms in west asheville, and at least tride tried a little on ashland. but come on guys you put a horrible name to graffiti especially for asheville.

  7. GP

    CONTRARY TO WHAT SOME MAY THINK I WROTE THIS LETTER OVER THREE WEEKS AGO IN RESPONSE TO AN ARTICLE ABOUT GRAF….I ENJOY YOUR FUNNY LITTLE POST JABS…THE TOTAL REDUNDANCY OF THE FIRST TWO COMMENTS…WERE YOU NOT SURE YOU SAID THAT THE FIRST TIME…DAVE?LIKE I SAID DON’T KID YOURSELF…THE SUPPOSED LOCAL GRAF COMMUNITY IS NOTHING MORE THAN A TOTAL AND COMPLETE MOCKERY OF THE FORM…BORROWED AND UN ORIGINAL.OR STOLEN AND NOT WELL PLANNED…WHAT EVER.

  8. Fred Keister

    Gomer has the key here. “Permission” to paint on private property walls. That’s the difference between graffiti and “art”. Spray paint on other people’s property without permission is vandalism and property damage. Those who do that deserve to be arrested.

  9. 23 skidoo

    You know what I like?

    The cat that writes STEPHEN HAWKING real big on stuff.

    Now that’s funny.

    Also FINGERLICKER.

    Eeeeewwwwwwww.

  10. Piffy!

    23:

    I’m a fan of “Dirt” and “Yoni” merely because of their amateur nature, and very non-hip-hop style.

  11. Twitchy

    Yeah sure, most of these graf “writers” are toys. They write on property that could be considered off limits and it looks like complete garbage. If there is one thing that I absolutely can not stand seeing in my city it is the straight up and down stick man style that a lot of these “writers” use.

    But, even as a critic of this Asheville graf scene I will say this, some of them are actually getting a little better, not much, but enough to look at and say, well at least it isn’t chicken scratch and stick letters.

    I must admit that I am eager to see how their talent develops, especially Tride as he seems to be one of the more prolific writers who actually has a little respect for a proper location.

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