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Keeping It Real

Watching artists that start their careers on the street develop and push themselves in new ways, into the gallery world and museum game, has been a thrill for me, to say the least. The boom that started in the early 70s has unfolded in successive waves and over the past two decades it has been a nonstop whirlwind of so-called “vandals” having to, in many cases, erase that part of their past to secure acceptance into esteemed art institutions.

The term “graffiti” may never attain universal acceptance, but it has become a rite of passage and garnered profound respect, especially in recent years. Events such as Art Basel, surrounded by all the fairs and their accompanying buzz, ostensibly represents the best of the best in the world of art. This past week, witnessing dozens and dozens of artists—many of whom I consider friends—present their works in Miami alongside the pinnacle of the art scene was nothing short of mind-numbing. So much of their art had the street feel, and dare I say, even featured spray paint in it! Graffiti, at its core, embodies a culture and an art form, rooted in its inherent rebellious and illegal nature.

Images courtesy of RISK

This building that a handful of artists kicked off quickly turned into a contagion, drawing vandals from around the globe that were in town who flocked to it to add their name. This structure legitimately kept it more real and had more energy to it than anything else I encountered in Miami. It's noteworthy that a surprising number of those engaged in this act of "vandalism" also had artwork showcased in the fairs. The work here is what every artist aspires to–the community of the action. The covered building. The masterpiece. What could be more authentic?

Images courtesy of @WISEKNAVE & DAX

Graffiti ain’t going anywhere. There will always be a new group of impassioned kids and a handful of stubborn old men still willing to act like kids alongside them, both eager to leave their mark anywhere and everywhere they can. It is our responsibility to provide encouragement and enable them to realize their boundless potential, fostering an environment where they can become anything they aspire to be.

- Roger Gastman



Video Courtesy of @mutavision