By Jonathan McNamara
Take a look at the paintings plastered all over building G at 1700 Curry and you might write them off as vandalism. Though the works are a combined effort between taggers and traditional artists, there’s no getting around the fact that they are graffiti. They have been sprayed over the walls and doors of this storage building to broadcast the names of their creators and telegraph social criticisms much like the spray paint communiqués you’ve seen on passing freight cars or bits of wall around town.
Rob Evans, owner of 1700 curry, sees them as the start of something else.
Tagging done by Phoenix graffiti artist Dose on building G at 1700 Curry
Evans hopes to transform the property at 1700 Curry from a self storage facility to a creative space for artists and musicians to perfect their crafts in a community setting. The existing buildings will have additional stories added to them to serve as rehearsal spaces for local bands. Another building will have kiln installations for ceramic work. There will be a permanent public wall for tagging.
They’re ambitious plans and they all start with graffiti.
Evans invited the public to an event called Convergent at 1700 Curry on May 17 to expose them to the work these artists have done to the property and announce his plans to auction the doors on building G, after it is demolished to make space for a parking lot, to raise money for the project and the artists alike.
That’s right. He’s auctioning off graffiti.
“I had an idea to turn these doors into something saleable so we wouldn’t have to pack a landfill and we could turn them into artwork,” Evans said.
Artists involved in the project include Phoenix-based tagger Such, Bronx tagger Clark, Tempe-based John Randall Nelson and many others.
“It’s amazing because I’m so grateful that these people showed up to do this and they’re so grateful to have the space to do it,” Evans said. “We just keep thanking each other, you know? ‘Thanks so much for coming down, no, no, no, thank you for letting us paint.’”
The event lived up to its name by offering not only visual stimuli but a few bands worth of ear candy as well. One band, The Earps vocalized their appreciation for 1700 Curry between one of their songs.
Hotwheels McGregor on stage with his band The Earps at 1700 Curry's Convergent show.
“We use to practice in number 39 right down there,” said singer Hotwheels McGregor.
People of all ages were present for the show. Art gallery goers took in the wall murals while high school kids showed their own designs to some of the artists by passing around sketch books.
A Phoenix-based tagger, who goes by the name “Dose” seemed eager to field questions from the enthusiastic crowd. He started tagging in 1989 while growing up in Los Angeles.
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“Where I’m from you either join a gang, do drugs, commit robberies or actually try to go to school and if you don’t have the money, you pick an artistic outlet like I did,” he said. “It saved me from dying at a really young age, probably.”
He tagged building G with an intricate version of his moniker in electric blue and purple complete with a tongue and a row of sharp teeth.
“The tongue is me being a smart ass and sticking my tongue out to everybody like ‘ha!’,” he said.
For more on Convergent at 1700 Curry, see our slide show Tag this: Graffiti artists converge on 1700 Curry.