m a g a z i n e
Written in Stone15 REVIEWS 41
WHAT IS ART?48
How the smallest state in New England carries on the tradition of the mural with graffiti.
Neighborhood artwork is caught in front of the lens.
ANTI AEROSOL?//35 Public art – including graffiti – is facing huge challenges.
Grit Magazine • 2
1. abrasive particles or granules, as of sand or other small, coarse impurities found in the air, food, water, etc. 2. firmness of character; indomitable spirit; pluck
WELCOME TO THE MAGAZINE. The New England street art scene is constantly in flux. Here at Grit Magazine, we are always seeking new artists, whether they’re involved in graffiti, metal and – of course – cement. This is a magazine that welcomes all contemporary artistic mediums and hopes to showcase thrilling works of art from different locales and creative approaches. In this preview issue, we hope to lay the groundwork for Grit Magazine in both content and design. Our inaugural feature story explores hidden graffiti canvases in Rhode Island, complete with brilliant photography. This preview is a snapshot of what we at
Grit Magazine hope to accomplish. While we work hard to bring you news and tips on cement art, we need you to tell us what you want to see. Do you know an artist who’s ready to face their big break? Are you unsure of how to mix that perfect batch of cement? Write to us. E-mail us. Tweet us. We’re here for you. Happy reading! Signed, Your Staff Katy Dorchies • Andrew Dost • Iris Febres • Tania Zamora
Beginners welcome in Boston art studio I wanted to tell you guys about a new studio that opened up by Fenway Park. Bristles, located on the corner of S. 39th Street and Park Drive, is the ideal location for beginning artists who need space to work on their projects. The studio is staffed with friendly folks who know their stuff. Many of them are young, working on their own projects to be exhibited
in local galleries or even for senior thesis proposals. If you have questions about virtually anything art-related, they have an answer. If they don’t, they’ll point you in the right direction. I’m very happy to call Bristles my new home. Artists in Boston should definitely check it out. Sandra Richards Boston, MA
QUESTION! Grit Magazine wants to know: what defines art? Is it limited to particular mediums? Subjects? Where does your art come from? Submit your response by February 1 and we may publish your thoughts in our next issue. Limit your response to 100 words or fewer.
Excited for Grit
Grit Magazine seems to be like the kind of magazine I’d like to read. I can’t wait to see future issues! As an independent sculptor, I’d love to see what artists you’ll profile as well as what kinds of tips and tricks you’ll write about. While I may be an old dog, I’d still like to learn new tricks. Kendrick Wilson Boston, MA
Graffiti needs protection
A mural masterpiece behind 160 Boylston was wiped on Dec. 17. Does Mayor Menino think his “Clean the Streets” campaign should include art? Jane Pendlebury Brookline, MA
WRITE TO GRIT If you have any questions or comments, write to us! It’s very easy – click on over to GritMag.com and follow the links. Or, you can send an email to letters@GritMag.com. We look forward to hearing from you!
Grit Magazine • 4
& s r o l co s e m u f A visit to an abandoned garage and the Henderson Bridge reveals powerful graffiti and insight to unspoken talent.
Two years ago, on the northern coast of
story&photos by Katy Dorchies January ‘11 additional photos by Tania Zamora
Peru, archaeologists unearthed a piece of artwork that would alter the chronologic history of the artistic mural by over a thousand years. Painted on the still soot-laden walls of an Andean fire temple, was the culturally familiar deer, trapped in a net. It’s estimated that the painting is 4,000 years old. At about the same time, a group of scientists discovered that oil painting had not—as previously documented— been invented in 15th century Europe. In an Afghani excavation of a 7th century structure, oil paint, likely made from dried walnuts and berries, stained the walls. In both of these instances, the structures that housed the ancient murals were religious in nature, and the
unearthed art reflected this. In past years, however, more eclectic and less artistic murals found on the walls of ancient Pompeii captured a very different aspect of life. Images and tales of sexual exploits, jokes and advice had been scrawled into the stones of the ruins, covering entire walls and tables, long before the civilization was devastated beyond repair. Even the wanderlust culture of the Vikings resulted in scrawlings that translate roughly to “Ottarfila was here” on the churches they passed and in tombs they ransacked. No, these images are a far cry from the encapsulation of offerings to the gods, but they capture a different GritdoMagazine •6 aspect of existence; the everyday life.
Graffiti today, though too often overlooked as a valid art form, combines the territory-claiming spirit of the Vikings, the casual everyday attitude of the Pompeians, and the mural focus of the ancient Andeans and Afghani Buddhists. Contemporarily, graffiti artists ensnare brief moments of fleeting time and identity on the concrete walls of cities and towns. Future issues of Grit Magazine will further investigate beasts of urban and street art. In this issue, however, two big, uncommissioned murals near one small city are
visited and looked closely at.
out of the corner of narrow side street, the Pawtucket Municipal Garage on Park Place houses one of the most intricate and untampered graffiti murals easily visited by the average street art enthusiast. Three of the four walls in the garage are strewn with what was likely commissioned, general, sterile art. Not entirely unlike the carpeting of a casino, thick, careless strips of red, black and white paint map
meaningless designs across these three walls. Almost painful to look at, this portion of the garage seems to serve merely as a foil to the artistic achievements on the fourth wall. Much of the mural was painted by DOA, a graffiti crew that, according to many vocal graffiti artists across the vague expanse of cloaked website forums, was one of the founding circles of artists in the state. As is the nature of the skilled graffiti artist, none of these men or women have been caught and therefore, their street and day names are unknown. No longer painting,
Grit Magazine â€˘ 8
(one graffiti enthusiast claims that “DOA was was,” describing how long it’s actually been since they’ve been active) the mural in this garage serves as a time capsule of aging graffiti. This art form is often fleeting, hurriedly covered by city officials with neat squares of deep gray paint in an attempt for perfect urban consistency, but somehow, this mural has remained for approximately ten years. Turning into the garage, the blast of the graffiti mural stands before you, largely unexpected. More than three cars in length, the mural includes four cartooned portraits, all about four-to-five five feet in height. The spaces between them are
lit up with larger “fills,” Island graffiti), Juner painted in the vivid, basic (another alleged king of shades of the the state’s secondary painters), “[Grafitti] is color wheel. as well as These fills, maller often fleeting, spieces in the most by basic nature hurriedly covered Fresh and of graffiti, TwoTun are their by city officials (affiliations artists’s unknown). with neat names. The Working letters of the squares of deep from left to name are right, across gray paint.” expanded the expanse into an of this graffiti almost block letter form, display, the first portrait geometrically altered, features a young man. and then—as the name His hands are shoved suggests—filled with deep into the pockets of a gradients and design. red sweatshirt. He raises In addition to the DOA heavy dark eyebrows at portraits, fills by artists you as you drive into the Rukus, Wizart and Spoke garage and smiles, almost (all members of DOA and threateningly, his eyes broadly recognized as narrowed, and a heavy the forefathers of Rhode chain hanging from his
neck. This portrait is likely the most menacing of the set. Although it is, like all of the others, almost caricature-esque in nature, the artistic skill featured is of the most honed and practiced kind. The curves of the face, the wrinkles of the sweatshirt, the gleam of the jewelry—all of these are captured in this old and flaking mural. Situated above him, almost ten feet up the side of the wall, far out of comfortable arm’s reach, another man stands before a silhouetted city skyline and points demandingly with one hand at a sheet of paper he is holding with the other: “The dopest of all time,” the sign reads. The man has a goatee,
HOW TO GET THERE Follow these directions & you’ll be knee-deep in graffiti. Travel safe!
The GARAGE Going South: Take I-95 S into Rhode Island. Take exit 27 for US-1 (toward RI-15/N Providence/Pawtucket). Take a right onto George Street and bear a slight right onto Park Place. The garage will be on your right. Take the second entrance, closest to Main Street. Going North: Take I-95 N into RI. Take exit 27 toward Downtown/Pawtucket. Merge onto Marrin Street, then turn left at Pine Street. Turn right at Church Street, then left at Park Place. Bear left to stay on Park Place – the garage will be on your right.
The BRIDGE Going South: Take I-95 S into Massachusetts. Take exit 2A to merge onto US-1 Alt S/Massachusetts 1A S/Newport Ave. Continue to follow US-1 Alt S/ Newport Ave., entering Rhode Island. Bear slight left at Pawtucket Ave, then turn right at Newman Ave. Continue onto N. Broadway, then urn right at Massasoit Ave. Take the 3rd right onto Waterman Ave. The path entrance will be on your right. Going North: I-95 N toward into RI. Take exit 19 to merge onto I-195 E/US-6 toward US-6 E/E Providence/ Cape Cod. Take exit 4 for US-44 E/Taunton Ave. Merge onto US 44 E and bear slight left at Walnut Street. Turn left at Waterman Ave and take the 3rd left to stay on Waterman Ave. The path entrance will be on your right.
Grit Magazine • 10
slick black hair, a mole or freckle above his left eyebrow. He wears a dark green shirt, and there are a few streaks of warm flesh tones in his face and hands, but otherwise, the piece is painted in black and white. The shading, of the fingers in particular, appears to be done with a fine paintbrush, rather than the messy, explosive, cloudiness of a can of spray paint, but traces of stray flecks can be seen upon closer examination. The artwork is honest and true to form.
A doorway and an ancient , faded
June fill separate The Dopest of All Time from his two remaining DOA brothers. On the right side of the doorway is a gray, black and electric blue illustration of another man, shooting a can of spray paint almost directly into the onlooker’s face. Shoulders shrugged up tight to his body, and cans of paint in both fists, the man’s eyes point
down, focused on the paint in his outstretched hand. The man’s face looks jagged and almost carved, and there is a sense of preoccupation that is different from the other portraits, the rest of which seem to stare at the onlooker. This piece could be considered the most remarkable of the four portraits for its attention to shading and lighting detail. The curves of the metallic spray paint can glint in an imaginary light, and thin (less than half an inch thick) streams of reflection bounce off of its surface. Details of so fine a nature are rarely accomplished in aerosol artwork. Likely, they were achieved with the use of an alternative spray attachment. In the nature of creative ingenuity, it’s not unlike graffiti artists to take the attachments from hairspray cans, or other compressed air devices and attach them to cans of spray paint to improve technique. The final portrait is separated from the painter by the Fresh and Rukus fills. This is the only man
of the four who could be described as comical. Dressed in a camelbrown trench coat and a large floppy brown hat with a feather lodged in its brim, he holds out a gold medallion with two ring-laden hands. The medallion, which reads “44,” glints a plethora of yellow tones beneath a large, also gold, necklace, with an enormous dollar sign hanging at the bottom. Peeking out of an otherwise nonexistent mouth, a long quellazaire holds the dwindling remains of a burning cigarette. The details here are comparable to the aforementioned, with glints of light bouncing off the corners of a pair of sunglasses, although the smoke swirling above the tip of the cigarette is a different type of technique altogether. Donning urban wear and marked with speech bubbles, signs, or simply a troubled expression, these four men are pure spray paint brilliance. The talent residing in this small state, however, is not
relegated to past generations. On the opposite side of the Rhode Island capitol, across the brackish Seekonk River and under the overpass of the Henderson Bridge, a newer generation of painters has left more recent marks. Found only by walking down a sandy path on the East Providence side of the bridge, past a series of unsettling piles of used mattresses, dilapidated chunks of sheet metal and an abandoned train car, a map of graffiti blankets the highway’s cement supports. This twisting series of beams and fills travels deep into the river and many of the most vibrant pieces are painted on supports that can only be reached at low tide. Current generation painters Sloe, Gyer, Lean and Split plaster layers of paint on the bases of these supports. But almost equally impressive is the collage of simple script-like tags that are scrapbooked across the entire surface of this empty lot: along the dead train tracks, across the rusty skeleton of a boxcar, and onto the bridge itself. Many are noname artists, leaving their names simply as the Vikings did, but even in the lack of artistic beauty, there can be art in the simple evidence of hundreds of individuals merely passing through. §
Grit Magazine • 12