Hidden Gems Uncovered: Graffiti Culture Lives On
I recently read an article that stated the, “graffiti culture was gone..”. Considering I was on a pretty popular media site at the time this bothered me because it definitely is not true. Though its not at the forefront like it was in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, Graffiti is definitely still alive and kicking and I’m here to prove it. In the past few years I’ve had the pleasure to attend different events where not only was I able to see artists’ work, but to participate in the making of some projects just by being present and/or given the gift of ‘tagging’ the work myself. We all remember ‘tagging’ our name when we was younger, seeing random tags on trashcans, walls, post boxes, etc. and passing the wall murals when community members pass away. In today’s world, ‘words through art’ has seen a change in popularity due mostly to the change of media motives and lack of importance in true raw talent. We can easily go to a website and generate graffiti nowadays to say whatever we want. But let’s be honest, how many of us can take a spray can of paint and come up with artwork that touches emotions and speaks words for and to the masses.
Graffiti on buildings, trains, bridges, etc forced government to take action during the 80’s. considering it was a popular form of personal expression and EVERYTHING was getting ‘tagged’. I’m sure there’s still a few lockers and walls that bare a fading ‘Krissy B. on it for sure. Between the years of 1970-80, New York’s Mass Transit Authority alone spent almost 150 million dollars to remove graffiti and/or set up securities against it. This was one factor that helped diminish a cultural trend. Fans of legendary graffiti artists may remember a few names that were notorious for their artwork. They may also remember the court dates, fines, jailtime and media that surrounded them too. Recently, Angel Ortiz, better known for the tag name LA Roc and having worked with the legendary Keith Haring, served 41 days in Rikers Island for spray painting his tag.
Though tagging without prior permission may still happen, um, or so I assume lol, there are legends today that are still making graffiti relevant, alive, and present. One artist in particular Will Kasso, is known for his unique portraits and vivid aerosol
based murals. He is a pioneering force in the Trenton, NJ art scene
and has worked with numerous non-profit organizations, some of which
included: One Simple Wish, ALBUS CAVUS, NJTL(National Junior Tennis
League), Home Front, City Without Walls, Isles Youth Build and The
Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. Along with S.A.G.E. Collective and
the Vicious Styles Crew, KASSO has produced dozens of murals
throughout the city of Trenton and across the east coast. He has also
been commissioned to produced fine art for numerous celebrities and
avid art collectors. His goal is to keep producing art by any means
and to keep pushing the limits of what art can conceive and achieve.
Recently I had the privilege to come across a 48 hour telethon in which he was spray painting a full car donated to the cause. Having previously seen and admired his talent, he conquered his mission with smoothness and dope inscriptions that provided for a flawless finish. Check out the pic below:
So while another element of Hip Hop only appears to fade from the mainstream media, I’m happy to say again the graffiti culture very much lives on. Whether it’s an old school graffiti artist or a new age legend in the making, there are signs everywhere that the true raw talent still exists. Pun intended. Check out the gallery for more artwork from Will Kasso from solo projects to group murals with other talented artists such as Leon Rainbow, also from New Jersey. Features the murals of Notorious Big, Amy Winehouse, Guru, Black Thought, President Obama, Method Man, Ghandi, Edward Scissorhands, Busta Rhymes, Jimi Hendrix, Charlie Chaplin, Dr. Martin Luther King, and more.
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