Stevio...LA LA Lovin' It?

I'm British-born Chinese from Bristol, UK. I’m LA-based. I’m a hip hop aficionado. After 15 years in London I moved to LA to pursue a new career and outlook on life.

Back in the 80s I was a DJ. In the 90s I contributed to the world's first street style exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2011, I had my first interviews published. Today, I’m keeping busy with music, art, photos and writing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Graffiti classics uncovered in New York

I used to wish I could travel back to New York in the 80s so I pick up all those old break beat albums, hang out with the legends and may be even get myself a role in the film, Wild Style! Okay, the last two wishes are only since I've moved to LA trying to make a name for myself! Hah!

SoHo in the 70s So, why mention this now? Well, I got to thinking after reading a recent Newsday report that a Futura (2000) tag was uncovered in a 10-storey limestone building dated ~1973! Damn! I'm out by a decade! :)

Along with the Futura tag was work by SAMO (aka Basquiat) and Fab 5 Freddy. How could this be? What *is* this building. Well, it seems that the 8th floor loft was lived in by art critic, Edit deAk, until 1984. During those years he had cool uptown kids visit his loft and let them loose on his walls and stairwell.

The artwork isn't high-end gallery fare. It's simple, raw and archaic! It really captures the early formative days of graffiti art. Before it hit canvas and US$ '000s dollar price tags. The picture above shows various images and tags in spray paint, grease pencil, magic marker in a limited range of colors - silver, gold, pink and red (unlike the rainbow-colored subway cars they later painted). Newsday added,"There are cartoon-like pictures of a bomber airplane, images of a heart and a cake, and several references to Quaaludes, a popular 1970s party drug".

"It's a great discovery," says Alberto Mugrabi, a major Basquiat and Andy Warhol collector. "It's the beginning of graffiti (as art)."

"Obviously, it's a critical piece of history, SoHo history," says Lisa Dennison, the former director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

The building was bought by developers in 2004 who wondered about the rumors about some hidden art within the walls. It's reported that Rite-Art magazine editor, deAk, even bragged: "There is a Basquiat, and it's somewhere where you won't think it is."

Art over commerce? The construction development has stopped now the art scrawls have been authenticated by Guggenheim chief conservator Paul Schwartzbaum and other experts. But, I can't help but feel if this discovery didn't have any (social) currency* value it wouldn't be high on anyone's 2008 list. In place of demolition, the developers decided to create an exhibition, investing "six figures" on the mural, hiring art conservator Harriet Irgang and California landscape photographer Bob Weingarten to document the process and produce a catalog for the exhibit.

"Irgang has stabilized the two walls by applying an adhesive to flaking paint and glitter. Next, she will cover the mural with tissue paper, cheesecloth and a stiff fabric to enable the graffiti to be 'peeled' off _ a process that involves using spatulas and chisels to separate the plaster from the coarse brown mortar behind it. Once freed, the graffiti will be mounted on a lightweight panel so it can be moved".

The Wild Style Exhibit The mural will be publicly unveiled on 29th November 2007 and called "The Wild Style Exhibit" after the classic hip hop film directed by Charlie Ahearn. The retrospective exhibit will feature the graffiti art movement between 1980-1985. The show has Keith Haring, Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, Ero and Fab 5 Freddy with many pieces coming from from private collections that have never been seen before.

The show runs until February 15th 2008 in the SoHo building's Gallery 151. Funnily, someone I know in NYC has a friend who works there who said the opening party was "off the hook!" I hope to make a trip to see the show before it ends so watch out for my blog in a few weeks (Farecast says prices are over $300 now, but due to fall) - I don't care what Gawker says. Or may be I do!

* not just money, but socialite value. Here's a thought: does art attract money, or money attract art? Is graffiti art? I've always thought that the joke was on the buyers of graffiti, especially in the case of "Banksy fever".

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