LA Graf Pioneer RISK Releases ‘Old Habits Die Hard’ Monograph Today

this Los Angeles graffiti originator drops his premier literary photo-doc that shows why he lives up to his moniker

West Coast graffiti innovator RISK debuts his new book today, Old Habits Die Hard, a 300+ page monograph documenting his life from childhood, through his four decades in the graff game to legendary artist status. Check out the trailer above.

-Sha Be Allah(@KingPenStatus)

TheSource.com Attends “The True King Experience” Art Show At VolaVida Gallery

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King Amsterdam True King Experience 2.0

On Thursday July 2, Maurice and Lulu, owners of Vola Vida Gallery, hosted an art exhibition show in Manhattan, New York  (East Village). It is in a low key area, made up of glass exterior doors, so one can’t help but to see all of the cool art that’s inside.

The gallery is just about a month old; June 4th was the first opening, and the True King Experience is only its sophomore show. Vola Vida Gallery lies between an East Village Deli, followed by an apartment and a pizza shop called, “Johnny Favorites.” There were about 29 canvases displayed on the white walls, which was brilliant because the vibrant colors on the canvases automatically stood out even from afar.

One of the best part about this gallery is that, the art pieces change every two weeks, the unpredictability of the art pieces after two weeks, is what makes this gallery so unique.

“This is the only gallery in N.Y.C. dedicated to only street art,” says Lulu. “East Village and N.Y.C. has tons of artists. We are so lucky here,” she continued.

The atmosphere of Vola Vida was very cool and calm; Rapper Fabolous “Lituation” played in the background, and some old school Hip Hop songs, which I was told were coming from Maurice’s playlist.

The mastermind of the majority of these art pieces were created by stencil artist, King Amsterdam, who is pretty much aware of how talented he is but still chooses to remain humble.  He indicated within the last three months, he was able to finish all of those canvases that were showcased on the walls. Impressive.  Also, his friends were given the opportunity to have their own canvas posted on the walls as well.  Amsterdam said, depending on one’s talent he decides if he would give him or her a blank canvas, a black and white canvas, or a canvas with a creative background.  Even his friend’s 6-year-old son has a canvas posted on the wall, but his piece is not for sale.

Artist Nicholai Khan, also has a canvas on the wall, a mickey mouse drawing for $600. Khan has painted for many celebrities like comedian/actor Tracy Morgan and New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne.  But in most cases, these canvases would include a picture of a guy whose back is turned wearing a hoody with “K I N G”  imprinted on it and a pair of baggy jeans, pointing to something in front of him.

When it comes to art, Amsterdam feels that people should get it right away.  “I don’t like to explain sh*t to people,” he said.  However, he does want his artwork to cause a reaction from his viewers.

“Art pieces are supposed to make you feel something,” he said.

When asked which of his own art piece was his favorite, he pointed to a black and white 10×8  “Sega Genesis” canvas which was spray painted with acrylic, and is worth $250.  His other favorite, (which was also mine) was a piece titled, “Crash Test Dummy”  24×30 and it was done using spray paint, and it is worth $400. There’s also an art piece of American singer and actor, Frank Sinatra, 12 x16 worth $300 by Amsterdam and he did it with just spray paint as well.

How Amsterdam got his ideas when it comes to creating these beautiful art pieces, he says, “I only paint stuff that I have a connection to.”  Although, he paints everything, he claims he does not like painting people anymore.

“Every stencil artists paints people. I want to separate myself.”

According to Maurice, these canvases can range from as low as $200 and go as high to $1500.

“There’s a lot of talents in the city,” says Lulu. “People are paying attention.”

And they are, if American art dealer and curator, Jeffrey Deitch made his way up to Vola Vida last week Sunday.

Quite frankly, if you are someone who loves and appreciate street art or even graffiti, Vola Vida Gallery is the perfect place for you (240 East 4th Street). This is a place where street art is giving great recognition as opposed to the ugly and nasty stereotypes that they are often being tied too.

“Art is not cherished anymore.” says Amsterdam. “People have no culture. We live in a cultureless world.”

 

With Sherley Boursiquot

Graffiti Artist MOBSTR Toys With City Worker Over Electrical Substation Wall

Watch as a graffiti artist writes clever messages on an electrical substation that resulted in a city worker cleaning the same wall 12 times over a one year period

Graf artist MOBSTR/ REX Shutterstock has documented his year-long encounter with a city cleaner, who removed his taunting messages from a wall 12 times. He started teasing the cleaner with his graffiti when he painted the word ‘Red’ on a section of a brick wall that was already that color and it would then be covered over in red paint by the cleaner who buffed over the section with more red paint.

MOBSTR decided to keep writing the word ‘Red’ in black paint on different areas of the wall to see what happened. Watch the video above showing the year long battle between Mobstr and the city worker…

Off The Wall: WRBT Movement

This week’s edition of “Off The Wall” features the West Coast freight graff movement We Ride By Train

For the most part, the focus on “Off The Wall” has always been the writers who have been killing the streets or bombing the subways before the 1989 clean train era. There is a movement that has grown over the decades since subway train bombing became almost null and void, which surprisingly, is a greater platform for graffiti writers.

The LA based WRBT(We Ride By Train) movement is one of the largest crews in the freight graffiti “community” that have provided quality art, clothing and other visual arts all at the cost of the various freight systems intersected throughout the United States. All of the work, travel by freight and other debauchery is totally unauthorized and has been packaged for sale in their new We Ride By Train Volume 3 available at http://www.wrbtrailway.com/.

-Sha Be Allah(@KingPenStatus)

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Off The Wall: TheSource.com EXCLUSIVE! ZEXOR WTO Part 2

Check out part 2 of Off The Wall’s feature of one of Bushwick’s last authentic writers, ZEXOR WTO

In honor of graf legend ASP, The Source.com presents the continued exclusive interview with his son ZEXOR, second generation writer of the WTO crew…

“The way the people that are not from the Bushwick community act towards the natives is crazy. I’m like the last of the natives and when it comes to the Bushwick graffiti writers I’m like the last Bushwick native. Before me, it was my pops, NOX, SKUF, SPOT, ECTO, ROC, the whole U5…it can go on and on and on, but there is no one after me.”

TheSource.com: Who else has been teaming up with you in your battles with these so-called street artists?

ZEXOR WTO: No one really teams up with me. I do it on my own. I like to bear that by myself. I’m like the black sheep, so I’d rather fight it by myself. Usually that’s what happens with all my shit. Even if I’m fighting 30 people, I’d rather do it by myself.

TheSource.com: So tell us about you fighting the State in your two felony cases.

ZEXOR WTO: I just beat one. I still got a case in the Bronx and a case in Manhattan. That case in Manhattan might get dropped and that Bronx case most likely definitely gonna get dropped, but I still do my thing through this whole time. It’s real crazy, man. This whole felony shit for graffiti is retarded.

TheSource.com: What were you charged with?

ZEXOR WTO: They charged me with felony making graffiti, criminal mischief and possession of graffiti making materials.

TheSource.com: On what grounds did they throw the charges out?

ZEXOR WTO: They said they had me on camera, but they really don’t. It’s all alleged. As far me though, no one is ever going to take me down. No one has enough evidence of who I am.

TheSource.com: Tell us more about your technique; where and how you go on your missions.

ZEXOR WTO: I’m sporadic. I can do it daytime or night time. I can do it Tuesdays or Thursdays, which is the hottest days to some people.
I like to paint by myself. Painting with other people doesn’t really do too well for me. As of lately, I’ve been doing a lot of daytime bombing. I’ve lived all throughout the city. I’ve lived in Bushwick, the Bronx, Queens…I live on the end of Queens. So, I would have to take the whole line back and forth, so I take walks. My son lives in Fort Greene, so there’s been times I’ve walked from Flushing, Queens all the way to Fort Greene with mad meanstreaks on me and I’ll just bang out mad tags. Same thing with cans. I’ll have cans on my back and I’ll leave at midnight. I’ll walk to Fort Greene and I’ll make it there by 8 o’clock in the morning. I don’t advise anyone to go pick up their son after bombing all night, but that’s like how my missions go. I’m going to make it to my son regardless.

Stay tuned until next week for the final chapter of the ZEXOR WTO TheSource.com interview!

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Today In Hip Hop History: The Source Remembers Graf Legend Iz The Wiz

Michael “Iz The Wiz” Martin passed away in Spring Hill, Florida on this date six years ago

On this day in 2009, the man known to the graffiti world as “IZ THE WIZ” died from kidney failure in Spring Hill, Florida. He was 50 years old.

The NYC born bomber began writing in graf’s infantile stages in the early 70s, but became more prolific in his own right when he took on his “IZ” moniker in 1975. By the early 80s, Martin had become one of the city’s most visible graf artists, with panels and top to bottoms on arguably every line. He is one of the founders of the Phun Factory in Long Island City, Queens, which later became known as the now defunct 5 Pointz Art Gallery. IZ was also one of the writers featured in the graffiti cult classic flick Style Wars, which also stars famed graf king and radio personality DJ Kay Slay.

The Wiz’s work continues to influence the graffiti community, where his work is still paid homage by artists and curators of art of all genres. On behalf of The Source.com and the entire Hip Hop community, it can be agreed that Mr. Martin is sorely missed. R.I.P.

-Sha Be Allah(@KingPenStatus)

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Off The Wall: TheSource.com EXCLUSIVE! ZEXOR WTO Part 1

This edition of Off The Wall features one of the next generation’s trendsetters and one of Bushwick’s last authentic writers

Sitting in Paradise Plus NYC graffiti and skate shop in Bushwick, Brooklyn is unlike any other regular retail establishment of its kind. 257 Varet Street appears to be a fancy vintage shop like the rest of the gentrified Bushwick, except one peak in the window will draw you in if the store’s mural across the street doesn’t do that first.

If you’re a customer of the skate/art persuasion, then this place is for you. If you’re a graff critic looking for who’s killing the streets of the Rotten Apple, then the storage room in the back of Paradise Plus is what you have to find.

The Source.com managed to gain access to the smoke filled room in the back where, ZEXOR, second generation writer of the WTO crew, was chillaxing with the owner of PPNYC and Zexor’s graff crew. Check out the first part of this interview with one of Bushwick’s last real vandals, building on his battle with “street artists”, his techniques and of course living up to his father’s legacy. Also, Check out some of the 24 year old Brooklynite’s art below, which is also on display at Paradise Plus NYC from now through July.

TheSource.com: OK, you rep the WTO click. We Takin’ Over. How long has that crew been killing the streets around the five boroughs?

ZEXOR: As far as I know, my father started it in 1986, but that’s as far as I know. I’ve been holding it down since 2009.

TheSource.com: You’re only 24, so your dad passed away when you were really young. Tell me what you know from what you’ve been told about your father, ASP?

ZEXOR: As far as ASP goes for graffiti, he was more of a terrorizer. People was afraid of him. Especially in Bushwick with the name he created for himself. He robbed a couple of people, cut a few people, did a lot of time…he was well respected. He threw one famous graffiti artist off a roof, then befriended the dude.

TheSource.com: So in what ways are you following in his footsteps?

ZEXOR: I’m trying to make my own footsteps to be honest. What he has done is way more different than what I’m trying to do. He created an entire graffiti scene in Buffalo, so as far as that goes, he was a pioneer. I could never be what he was. He started a whole scene for writers like LIONS, ATACK, HERT and other writers from Buffalo.

TheSource.com: Tell me about your ongoing battle with Bushwick Collectives.

ZEXOR: It’s not just Bushwick Collectives. It’s an ongoing battle with gentrification in my neighborhood. The whole point of them moving into this neighborhood was them grabbing culture. It’s not just Bushwick Collectives. It’s Morgan Walls, JMZ Walls…all these people are not from out here. These people would never step foot in Bushwick.

Come check out TheSource.com next week for Part 2 of the exclusive ZEXOR “Off The Wall” interview!

-Sha Be Allah(@KingPenStatus)

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5Pointz And The Future Project Transform Troubled High School

This past weekend over 100 street artists banded together to give the “worst school” in New York an inspiring makeover

August Martin High School, located in Jamaica Queens, was once labeled the “worst school” in New York with a graduation rate of 39 %. In hopes of beautifying the school, the school’s Dream Team and administrators sought out 5Pointz to completely transform its halls. Principal Gillian Smith said,

We need to reinvent ourselves and the way to reinvent ourselves is to empower students…the building looks magnificent.”

What prompted this urban renewal was the imagination of August Martin High School’s Dream Team which consists of a group of students guided by “Dream Directors” from the “Future Project,” a national non-profit organization. One of the Dream Team members, 16-year-old Justin, said,

The students said they want to see something they can relate to on the walls…so, we created a project called Operation Skittles to decorate 100% of August Martin’s walls: graffiti, murals, quotes, people, whatever inspired the students to come to school.”

After an unsuccessful attempt to get the student body to decorate the walls themselves, they reached out to 5Pointz. The artists involved in this beautification process included Syreeta Gates, MERES, CUBA, CYCLE,, Phetus, POET, YES1, Cernesto, KING BEE, Plasma Slug,, AMUZE, SHIRO and many more. With mild limitations on the artwork including no pornography or racism, the artists got to work and most created murals with school-related themes. Administrators, the Dream Team and The Future Project hope that the amazing work of these artist will motivate students to come to school and focus on their education. This high school has also contributed to the education of notable people such as Russell Simmons, Kelly Price, and Lloyd Banks. The murals will be available for public viewing June 11th from 4 to 8 pm.

-Nishat Baig

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Off The Wall: MERES ONE

This week’s edition of Off The Wall features Brooklyn’s own Meres 1

In the graff world, you have vandals, writers, bombers, and then you have artists. One of the most illustrious artists to blossom out of the Rotten Apple’s graff scene is BK’s own MERES. As the curator at the now defunct 5 Pointz Art/Graffiti Gallery in Long Island City, Queens, Meres aka Jonathan Cohen left his stamp through images that boast of colorful, yet imaginative characters from our favorite movies, legends of Hip Hop including the Notorious B.I.G. and even a life like RIP portrait of comic great Robin Williams.

Check out some of MERES’ work below from the 5 Pointz Gallery:

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LAPD Gun Down Teen For Graffiti

A man was shot in Los Angeles for spray painting in a vacant apartment

A teenager was critically wounded when he was shot by a police officer who responded to a trespassing and vandalism call. The unidentified 19 year old was shot an unknown amount of times when the officer went in and opened fire into an apartment in Long Beach, CA last week when he found teenagers inside painting graffiti.

Long Beach Police say that it is unclear what occurred before the officer began shooting. The L.A. County District Attorney’s Office will conduct its own investigation to find out what happened on that fateful night.

TheSource.com will update this story as it develops.

-Sha Be Allah(@KingPenStatus)