Buddha by the PHX's El Mac and El Lay's RETNA.
Nice to know the ink-slingers over at New Times' sister paper in L.A. have some taste. I might've thought otherwise had they not - ironically - chosen an image from one of the most talented street artists in the PHX to be the cover shot for a feature on L.A. graffiti. Actually, the image is a collaboration between L.A. artist RETNA and our own El Mac, a giant Buddha at Western and Marathon in La-La Land. Mac did the Buddha. RETNA did the dramatic aura around the deity that looks like stained glass. The article, The Rise of the Seventh Letter by Shelley Leopold, was published Thursday, July 12 in the LA Weekly. It's the story of the so-called "Seventh Letter Crew," perhaps better known as AWR/MSK (Art Work Rebels/Mad Society Kings), which has been able to parlay its serious street cred into lucrative work for the likes of Nike, Adidas, Scion, Boost Mobile, and others.
Door of Love and Hate Tattoo, 322 W. McDowell Rd., PHX, only visible when shop is closed.
El Mac is connected to Seventh Letter mostly through his longtime collaborations with L.A.'s RETNA. Mac was part of SL's "Letters First" show in Barcelona, and LA Weekly features his contribution to this exhibition in the slideshow that accompanies the story. Author Shelley Leopold never mentions El Mac, save to credit him. Mac says he never talked to anyone for the article, and was surprised his piece was picked. Maybe Leopold and the rest at LA Weekly were unaware that this particular "God of Graffiti" hails from and continues to dwell in P-town, though the 28-year-old has been making sounds like he could be moving to Lotus Land in the foreseeable future.
Sleeping beauty: Mac's "Phoenix Goddess" takes up a whole wall, about a block east of Zoe's Kitchen; check the lawn table below for perspective.
"If I was out in L.A. full time, it would be a lot easier to get some of these connections," Mac told me recently. "I've been thinking about it for quite a while now. It's tough because I have really cheap rent out here and I like where I live. I'm doing well, but I just see that I could be doing better, most likely, if I was in a bigger city."
One of Mac's blue girls, just inside the doorway of PHX's Garfield Galleria.
Certainly it's a compliment to have some art director pick your piece over numerous others from the same graff crew. (Seventh Letter is a big-ass posse.) L.A. is one of the major capitals of graffiti in the U.S. So having one of your pieces tapped to rep L.A. graff on the cover of the LA Weekly is huge.
A Holbein drunkard on the corrugated back door of a pawn shop basement on McDowell Rd., PHX.
You do get the feeling that Mac's on the verge. He travels regularly to do walls out of town: L.A., San Fran, Mexico City, and elsewhere. And he recently had a one-man show with a gallery in Montreal. His art is a step above, with references to Italian masters, Hans Holbein, and others. You could envision his work in the Louvre, and yet it's on common brick walls and corrugated steel doors around town. Pictured here are a number of legal walls throughout Phoenix that Mac's done. These are mostly around McDowell and 7th Ave, on the back of or inside buildings. Let's hope he does a few more walls here in his hometown before he one day hightails it to L.A.
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A little El Mac political commentary, with Saddam Hussein pictured as a "blood-sucking Mexican," bugbear of the nativists. On 7th Ave., at the PHX shop Curiouser & Curiouser, just down from Mary Coyle's.