“This really made my day honestly,” says Cope2, the Bronx bomber as he finishes his new rainbow striped iconic bubble letters in the Boogie Down. It’s a sunny, warm perfect Saturday in New York, and he writes on his phone as he puts it up excitedly on his Instagram, “It’s international day against homophobia this ones for my GLBT brothers and sisters!!”
Cope2 in the Bronx in front of his brand new rainbow striped tag. “Love is all we need”. May 17, 2014
He instinctively knows he’s bracing for some negative comment on his feed – this is New York after all and this is a guy some people in the graffiti scene call a “King” with a 30+ year history on the street as well as an established gallery career. And yes, there is a scattered disapproval and disbelief among the majority positive responses. “Why, Cope, why?!”, asks one, and “Fuck tolerance shit,” responds another. Earlier in the day someone had written “that SHIT gay as fuck boy,” and another “Fuck fagz bun a batty man” – but these voices were more or less drowned out by shows of support and thanks throughout the day.
“So clean and freshh”, “Beautiful,” “Memeo contigo”, “Great stuff bro,” “LOOOOOVEE!!!” and “maybe the haters will shut the fcuk up now. Way to take the high road.”
That last comment was probably a reference to the firestorm that erupted as he took on the big Houston Street Wall this past week and his own past use of homophobic slurs and insults on social media called into question his attitudes toward folks, and the meaning of his choice for this iconic Manhattan location that has hosted many big names including the openly gay Keith Haring . The discussions were hot and a genuine volley eventually took it in the wrong direction for all parties before finally public apologies were made and some people have granted forgiveness. But bruises still exist, and Cope wants to do his part to at least build some bridges.
On a day like today Cope is on top of it and for all his GLBT friends and fans he says he wants to make clear his position on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender folks once and for all. “Love is all we need!!”…and we’re probably just going to go ahead and agree on that one.
A screenshot of Cope2’s Instagram page shows a number of the things that have been on his agenda lately.
But why bring it up to begin with, some would ask. Isn’t this sort of beyond the point of aerosol and bubble tags and graffiti and art? One of Cope2s Instagram commenters says, “cuz we don’t ignore shit that is wrong.” Truth is, there are a lot of folks victimized every day everywhere, and like a guy with a conscience Cope2 knows he has a voice on the street where it can matter.
“Given his stature in the graffiti community I think it sends an important message,” says Luna Park, the well respected photographer and documentarian of the graffiti and street art scene, particularly over the last decade. Park says that when a revered graff writer and artist takes a position on any issue like this, it has an impact on the peers and kids who idolize them.
“It is a signal. And from my perspective it is welcomed. I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of sending signals like that. And if you look at the feedback he has already received in social media – there is an immediate positive impact. He has an enormous platform and a lot of people look up to him and regardless whether you personally like his work or not, the fact is that it is important how he uses his platform.”
Street Artist Olek created this public performance installation directly in front of the Houston Street Wall today to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (#IDAHOT).
“So many kids are looking up to him,” says Street Artist Olek, known for her crochet street installations that have taken her around Europe and the US, covering the Wall Street Bull sculpture and even landed her in the Smithsonian. The Polish born Brooklynite wanted to do her own installation today by the Houston Street wall to show support of a community she feels close to, so she staged her crochet camouflaged models in front of it with rainbow crocheted cans in hand.
Street Artist Olek created this public performance installation next the Houston Street Wall today. The words read “Respect The Rainbow.com” – referring to a webpage she created for it also. (#IMAHOT).
“This is subject that I want to stand by,” she says by way of reclaiming some of the negativity that has been associated with the Houston Street wall that was once actually covered by one of the first openly gay artists painting in the street back in the 80s and 90s. “I want to be part of it and to make a statement and encourage positive vibes.”
Throughout the day there has been a lively banter about these new developments on the street and on social media and in private offline conversations. Most think that a page has been turned, at least a little one, and that some bridges recently burned may yet be built.
Street Artist Gilf! reposted her 2010 piece online called “Empower Equality”, saying “Today is International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. It’s time to celebrate love, instead of honoring hate. We live in a world that exponentiates your energy.”
Cope2 tells us he has his eye on generating some positive energy in the graffiti and Street Art scene and with his new piece he’s telling us “Love is all we need!!”. We’re down with that.
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