Graffiti is a dramatic display of Graffiti art that will cover not only the interior of artspace but spread outside with huge vinyls adorning the outside walls of artspace and sidewalks in the 700 block of Texas Street. The centerpieces were created by professional Graffiti artists, ELSE from California and PUBERT from Phoenix , who will work with a selected team of local artists and students. “Graffiti is probably the most controversial exhibit artspace has undertaken… there are many who consider graffiti to be vandalism and can't imagine it as art… this exhibition will offer people the chance to see graffiti in a different light.” Steve Ross, Exhibition Chairman.
The exhibition will also include: a Graffiti Collection of art borrowed from ‘Full Time Artists’; photography of Graffiti by Mike Silva; Will Tuft’s photographic images of the famously anonymous Banksy’s work in New Orleans; and a documentary of local graffiti and its impact on our community by artist Robert Trudeau.
Integral to the creation of the Graffiti exhibition is the community engagement in the creative process. Guest Curator, Megan Clark of Shreveport Regional Arts Council explained, “We want to show Shreveport , young and old, the difference between art and vandalism and how elaborately beautiful the urban canvas can be when it’s bringing the community together instead of pulling it down.”
Professional graffiti artists, ELSE and PUBERT take up residency in Shreveport for two weeks from Saturday July 18th through Friday July 31st. ELSE was born in New York and moved to LA at an early age. He began drawing simple bubble letters and by 5th grade was drawing graffiti, copying Hip Hop album covers. Later, having become embroiled in the LA Gang culture ELSE spent a number of years in prison. He went away for his first prison term at the age of eighteen, yet throughout, his graffiti career kept growing. There were times ELSE thought he would be lost to prison and gang life forever, but with determination he kept painting and building an ever-growing fan base. ELSE realized that Graffiti was not only an opportunity for him to get out of the gang life but it was also an opportunity to reach out and help kids like himself to have an easier time in life, or maybe learn from his mistakes. ELSE now works with non-profit organizations; reaching out to "at risk youths" and active gang members to try and help them transition into a healthy lifestyle. He continues to paint, now having worldwide recognition and fan base, and plans on never stopping and trying his best to always push the boundaries of graffiti and help legitimize graffiti as an industry. ELSE’s credits include: Disney's corporate office "House of Mouse"; a large mural for DJ Collette for House Bunny; LA'S Sharpie show featuring Craola Simkins and collaborative works with Zoo York. In addition he has painted various murals and assists with outreach programs and legal graffiti yards.
Influenced by the infamous SEEN among other historic Graffiti artists, Sam Rivas, aka “PUBERT,” is devoted to the art of graffiti. He has 21 years of experience painting in the areas of Los Angeles and Phoenix .
ELSE and PUBERT will work with a group of JOB CORP. students to direct them in creating a number of vinyl banners that will be displayed on the outside of the buildings on the 700 block of Texas Street.
Photographer Will Tuft will exhibit a series of photographs of Banksy’s work, the infamously anonymous British graffiti artist whose unique brand of satirical stencils tackling social issues can be seen all over the world. In August 2008 Banksy visited New Orleans , leaving in his wake a collection of controversial, amusing yet beautiful street art. His work in New Orleans takes on social issues that continue to plague the city 3 years after Katrina. Corrupt politics, slow disaster recovery, failed levees and the ‘Grey Ghost’, an anti-graffiti vigilante, were all topics of Banksy’s aerosol forums. Banksy’s work in the ‘Big Easy’ has brought the legitimacy of this art form to trial of public opinion. Although some of the work has been covered by the ‘Grey Ghost’ or property owners, most of Banksy’s work has been preserved and defended by the people of New Orleans.
Louisiana outsiders have always been the focus of Artist and Film-maker, Robert Trudeau, whether in sketches of thorny people of dubious gender, ethnicity and occupation or in videos of small time musicians, artists and non-professional types. “The hairy spirit of graffiti is an inspiration to me. My contacts in youth culture and artist community will be tested by this assignment, since Shreveport has so little graffiti.”
A graffiti collection from “Full Time Artists” will exhibit a variety of graffiti art including original paintings, drawings and prints. ‘Full Time Artists’ created: one of the internet’s first graffiti sites; the first all graffiti digital font collection & websites; ran a small underground Hip-Hop label; and a couple small clothing lines. Members of the collective have grown to run successful clothing companies, graphics firms & hold art positions at major companies. Through vision and perseverance these so called ‘underground’ artists have been accepted into the mainstream. As Full Time Artist member, RaseOne explained, “We are all very lucky to have done this well but I think we all knew that we would succeed if we just stuck to our vision. People are fond of saying that you can't make a living as an artist or a musician but it's not true. Where there is a will there is a way.” Bizarrely, graffiti is being constantly imitated yet is rarely appreciated. But for those that stick with it & sweat & bleed long enough graffiti can return the favor, as RaseOne continued, “I personally am able to make a comfortable living providing custom graffiti art & graphics but I had to do years of ‘dirt doing work’ that often had nothing to do with Hip-Hop or graffiti until I eventually built up a demand for my own styles. Every artist’s path is different but for almost all of us the only way to succeed is through tons of hard work. If I have any advice to my fellow artists it's to act on your visions & execute your plans. If you don't do it someone else will.”
Graffiti exhibitions are not new to the international art world and have taken center stage during the past couple years at the most prominent galleries in Europe . In 2008, London ’s Tate Modern Street featured England ’s prolific graffiti artist, Banksy, along with over 40 street artists in a fascinating display transforming a dank railway tunnel into a showcase. In 2009, the Grand Palais in Paris with guest curator Alain-Dominique Gallizia, architect and designer, commissioned 300 works by leading international graffiti artists creating canvases of art with their unique TAG design. American art galleries have also taken notice of the value of this ephemeral art form. Most recently, the Helenbeck Gallery in New York is currently showing an exhibition called “Whole In The Wall,” the largest assemblage of American and European graffiti in the history of America ’s art galleries. The desire of the exhibition committee for artspace is to be able to bring the most unique and relevant historical and current artists and art forms to Northwest Louisiana in an effort to educate, entertain and enlighten.
“In recent years the world of the graffiti and tag artist has been the subject of a great deal of examination by the museum and exhibition community. Recent major shows in London and Paris have proven to be both critical and popular successes, and in cities around this country art that was once cleaned up and painted over is being protected and celebrated.” Exhibition Chairman, Steve Ross.