Visual Arts

AMERICAN GRAFFITIAEROSOL ARTISTS ANSWER SCRAWL OF THE WILD

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In the old days, Such admits, he did illegal pieces, "mostly seasonal, like 'Merry Christmas' or 'Happy Easter,' and political stuff. But I never got busted--I got chased, but never busted. One time we were chased away while we were doing an antidrug piece," he laughs. In 1984, he hooked up with a crew called PCP Bombers; PCP stood for Phase Craze Posse, "but we weren't a gang," he quickly adds, "just a group of artists. Most crews are not gang members, just artists. We were young and arrogant--and I wanted to be king. I used to call myself Arizona's aerosol pioneer."

Such started other crews, including COMA (Creators of Modern Art) and NWMA (New Wave Modern Artists), but he mostly works alone now: "I run solo. There's less drama, less soap opera, no compromise. I sometimes work with Lyfe, a homeboy of mine whose real name is Armando Aos, though. He's a genius; he makes special spray-can tips for special effects."

At the ripe old age of 18, Such decided he had to stop getting up illegally because, strangely enough, he wanted to be a cop. He attended Mesa Community College for a while, but rapidly got bored. He talked a local nightclub owner into letting him paint a wall of the club and ended being hired to paint murals on the rest of the walls. Such has since been commissioned by both the Tempe and Mesa school districts to paint both interior and exterior walls of school buildings, including gyms and cafeterias. "It spread like wildfire," he says. Such has taught aerosol art at the Tempe YMCA and has had well-attended shows at ASU Art Museum's Experimental Gallery at Matthews Center and MARS Gallery in downtown Phoenix. According to him, "the graf movement's exploding right now; the scene is hitting and I'm hitting, too."

Such waxes philosophical about controlling tagging. A savvy spray-can statesman, he feels that a summit meeting between a city task force and taggers could go a long way toward creating dtente between the two factions.

"If you can channel the energy that goes into tagging into making art," he says, "you'd be able to eradicate vandalism. The city of Phoenix needs to sit down and discuss the problem with the taggers face to face, then something could be done to solve the problem. Give them legal walls, give them free paint--then you won't have the problem.

"Countries have meetings like that," he adds, "so why can't we?

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Kathleen Vanesian