NOT SO BLACK AND WHITE
SCOPE WALLS 2023
A decade ago, spotting a fire extinguisher tag at a high-profile art fair was as rare as stumbling upon a unicorn. These tags, a raw expression borrowed from the rebellious part of street culture, remain one of the few graffiti forms embodying untamed, voluminous fury. Their wild, nearly uncontrollable nature often sends extinguisher tags sprawling chaotically across walls, typically in a burst of illegal exhilaration and complete disregard. Yet, at Scope, something has changed. Here, under the discerning eye of the STRAAT Museum from Amsterdam, New York’s Elle adds it to her graphic vocabulary, confined in a grid. The extinguisher phrase is sweetly an affair of the heart, neatly encapsulated within the structured lines of a painted grid on an outdoor display wall.
In this world (the West, East, North, and South), increasingly sliced by polarized political fault lines, the once rigid boundaries between art and vandalism blur into intriguing shades of gray. Consider hand styles like those of Bisco Smith at this venue – once underground, now they fold into the stylized lexicon of ‘calligraffiti,’ accessible to all. It’s a testament to the evolving nature of art, shattering the dichotomy of rules once as clear-cut as the commandments brought down by Moses.
Take Anthony Garcia Sr., for instance. His story is a narrative of contrasts. Born in Denver, that bastion of Boomer wealth now gasping in the throes of late-stage capitalism, Garcia’s roots are in Globeville, a less privileged neighborhood. He gets street cred for starting as a graffiti writer, then joins a DIY art collective – a move perhaps uncharacteristic for traditional graffiti artists. Garcia’s journey exemplifies the fading of stark black-and-white distinctions.
This year’s walls outside the Scope Fair in Miami vividly showcase this eclectic con/fusion. We see graffiti writers rubbing shoulders with art school graduates, graphic designers, and street artists. It’s a diverse panorama condensed into a concise exhibit. Curated by Hyland Mather and David Roos, STRAAT’s exhibition “Not So Black & White” celebrates this new, complex artistic landscape – where the lines between defiance and conformity, street and gallery, blend into a new, undefined horizon.
Artists include The London Police Hoxxoh, Pref ID, Bisco Smith, Mando Marie, Elle, Valfre, and Anthony Garcia Sr. .
“KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR PEACE IN ANY FACE, AND FIND THE LOVE IN ANY PLACE” Hyland Mather AKA The Lost Object.