Looking Back At The Year in Graf
A lot went down in the world of graf this year, we revisit the highs and lows in our retrospective.
Mass Appeal was founded in 1996 as a graffiti zine, and though our scope has broadened, we still keep those aluminum cans near our hearts. With 2013 ending, we can’t help but feel more steeped in the culture than ever. We debated Banksy in-office throughout his residency, bemoaned the loss of 5 Pointz, and celebrated the inaugural year of our own Write of Passage program this past October. Graffiti and street art had plenty of highs and lows this year, and we took them all in. How else could we recap them for you here now?
“The Legend of Disco Dan” Documentary
From Joseph Pattisall and Roger Gastman, we got an inside look at DC graf legend Disco Dan. The documentary is set against a backdrop of a city gone mad and broke due to post MLK-riots and marginalized social conditions. We learn that the real legend of Cool “Disco” Dan revolves around the quest for fame and his battle with personal demons. He traverses 1980s Washington D.C. aka the “Chocolate City” throwing up his tag as the burgeoning go-go music scene was starting to catch on. You can cop the doc yourself here.
“Flip the Script” Book Released
Lost amidst the proliferation of street art stencils and posters, is an appreciation for hand styles and graffiti lettering. Enter Christian Acker, whose “Flip the Script” analyzes distinct styles from across the country in an organized, easily digestible manner. It’s a must have for any writer interested in developing his or her own lettering or understanding the rich history of the form. “Flip the Script” is available now at Amazon.
“Wild Style” Celebrates 30 Years
Charlie Ahearn’s groundbreaking film “Wild Style” turned 30 this year, and retrospectives were released across the web. Complex unleashed a Then and Now photo series, and we linked up with Ahearn to unearth some photos, posters, and relics from the seminal film. You can peep those in Issue 53, or right here.
5 Pointz Disappears Over Night
There was long talk of replacing 5 Pointz with luxury condos and there were long petitions pleading real estate developers to reconsider, but on Nov. 19, we all woke to news that the graffiti haven had been painted white over night. Not that getting written over, buffed out, or erased is new to graf writers, but this was the loss of an institution, a beacon, a landmark that confirmed that graffiti was art and would always have a place in our city. The question now is whether New York will designate a new location for writers to paint legally and embrace the culture that was born in its streets. Can we get de Blasio on the line with whoever’s running the show down in Miami? They seem to have this all figured out.
Banksy brings “Better Out, Than In” To NYC
Banksy technically isn’t a graffiti artist, and his inclusion in this list may have some traditional writers tagging foul, but for a brief time this year, the world famous UK artist was inescapable. His “Better Out, Than In” series emphasized a return to the streets for Banksy, as he traversed New York’s boroughs, putting up a piece a day for the entire month of October. Say what you will about his self-generated hype, or the unsolicited op-eds (and surely, lots was said), but for that month, it felt like all eyes were on the streets; people cared about street art and that end may justify the means in this case.
Known Gallery LA opens Seventh Letter Flagship store and Gallery
Those in the LA area can now cop official pieces and apparel to rep The Seventh Letter at their flagship store in LA. The spot opened up in early December but you can relive the opening in the clip above.
Revok and Pose Paint Houston Wall
(Photo by Jaime Rojo)
LA’s Revok, Chicago’s Pose, and 30 others took to New York’s Houston Wall for 7 days and 80 hours to produce a mural so broad in style, so busy in color, composition, and technique, that it acts as a history lesson and visual mirage simultaneously. “We’ve all painted a million walls,” Pose said of the undertaking. “This is something that is sort of a landmark and for our culture; it means a lot.” The wall blends street art with graffiti, lettering with stenciling, and in turn bridges the gap between the two related but often distant forms. Many have painted on the famed Houston Wall, but few have produced a piece as ambitious and encompassing as Revok, Pose, and squad.
Write of Passage’s inaugural year
We were proud to usher in the first year of Write of Passage at Red Bull Studios this year. With a gallery exhibit, free seminars, and an educational program for 12 New York artists, Write of Passage brought together legends, novices, and everyone in between, to celebrate graffiti’s rich history and impact. We’re looking forward to next year’s program, and thank all who helped our inaugural event become such a success.