It’s late. The rest of the world sleeps, be it literally or metaphorically. What better a time to write about delinquent behavior, hell this is the time it usually transpires anyway. Now if you think this article is going to highlight the same old you see in all the glossy travel brochures and slick blog instagrams about Miami and its up and coming street art scene you are mistaken. Those guys got their proverbial 15 minutes, and there is more to it than what you see in the carefully curated corporate sponsored walls of the arts district.
There’s clearly defined albeit ever fluctuating lines that are not to be crossed , politics that must be observed as well as the ever encroaching gentrification of an area that at one point was considered one of the most dangerous areas in Miami. As far back as I can remember the arts district was a run down area that very few ventured into. In retrospect I wonder now if it was a clever plan all those years ago to throw venues in this area to create an atmosphere similar to New York’s Meatpacking District with its clubs in the seedy part of town that would as time go by turned into the shiny art neighborhood held as the crown jewel of the burgeoning South Florida art scene.
Graffiti was always present, be it quick one liner tags to expertly crafted large productions. It was however always a clandestine almost secret society in nature very few got in to, and those who did quickly disappeared into this cloak and dagger world of late nights, stained hands, running from authorities, beefs with other writers, coming together as crews , coming apart and the cycles of things graff. There is a funny dichotomy that transpired as time went by and that’s the fact that while in the beginning the graffiti was frowned upon as time went by it was looked as a necessary evil. In fact if a place was too clean, if its walls too pristine it was almost considered not authentic. After a while the graffiti was almost encouraged. It became a status symbol at one point almost to have certain writers grace your walls. After a while it wasn’t just about having graffiti up on your establishment, soon came the era of the street art phenomenon. The game changed, now it was about big murals, curated pieces, sponsored walls, the art shows and the superstar graffiti artists. Gone it seems was the era of keeping anonymous, guarding your persona, being content with seeing your piece running and being happy with the fact you and only a select few knew who you were. It watered down and made palatable something that was and in many places is still considered an eyesore and a crime.
However you can’t tame a wolf and while there is the pretty facade that most people see there is still that raw energy that comes from a quick tag or going over some slippery corporate sponsored art that some name in the so called art world was commissioned to do. Miamis graffers refuse to let their walls succumb to this. They have fought long and hard, with each others and the establishment that has branded them as criminals. in this day and age the title of vandal is not a term of derision, it’s what separates the real writers from the “street artists”. For them fame in the broad sense of the word is secondary to the respect on the street and amongst their peers. They have very little interest in the mainstream art world and are well aware of who is real and who is not. For all we know this street art phenomena may just well be a flash in the pan however true graffiti is as old as man and will continue forward. Man has an innate desire to make his mark and no amount of law or jurisdiction is going to stop that.
While there is nothing wrong with making money off your art and to commiserate with posh upper echelon, to finally make it doing what you love and worked so hard to perfect, if your going to keep your respect and keep from getting gone over you have to put in work. What’s putting in the work you say? Not that legal sanctioned stuff you see in the arts district, it’s about going out and bombing, getting up illegally, risking your neck in shady lots and dodging rivals as well as the cops. Going into that pretty bathroom with its artsy fixtures and carefully decorated walls and desecrating it with your mark, sneaking a can of paint with you everywhere just so you can leave a tag where no one else has. Why? There is no why. It’s chaos and chaos has no need or want to be explained. In this era of political correctness and social media, true graffiti is all about leaving your mark and giving that mark the respect that you believe it deserves.
Rabbits999 / Mr Bunny