Streetwise art keeps on keeping on. “Beautiful Crime” will showcase regional, national, and international graffiti artist and their work, but expressed on canvas or as sculpture or photography. (The impressive large piece in the picture is Will Corprew’s.)
It’s easy to see lots of artists are really in their element here. The fact that it’s such a big show, easily filling 4,000 square feet of gallery space, has not diluted its quality. Many of these works have a power and beauty that can only come from the streets.
The show also features other artists influenced by this pop art form as well as other elements long connected with the art form — turntablism (DJs manipulating records on turntables), B-boying (break dancers) and beat boxing.
The show makes use of the expansive Ground Floor Gallery at Read’s ArtSpace starting with a reception. Also planned that evening is an artist panel about the history, terminology, and rules of graffiti. This is the first part of a three-day event. The second day will feature a live graffiti demo at a legal wall designated in or near the city of Bridgeport.
The third day being a silent auction at yet-to-be-announced location.
The show is in a secure building, so find a contact here before heading over.
The Fairfield Weekly wrote that the show was conceived and put together by Razul Branch and three artists — Aisha Nailah, Gelator and Yves Wilson — as a way to clear up misconceptions about graffiti artists.
The foursome also saw Bridgeport as a potential hub for artists. “We saw this would be a great opportunity to launch this arts scene here along the same scale as Hartford and New Haven,” says Branch. “Some of these guys are extremely accomplished artists, they just don’t have as many venues to showcase their talent because the moment someone hears they’re graffiti artists a lot of times their mind is closed off right after that.”
Fairfield County artist Pacer of IOF (Images of Fascination) points out, “Graffiti is normally something that’s secretive, hidden. You may see it on the street, but you don’t know what goes on behind it.” He adds that although a lot of negativity surrounds graffiti, “there’s also the creative side, always pushing yourself to do better.”
Pacer, who is currently working on something he describes as “futuristic collage work,” is one artist whose work will be featured at the show, which isn’t strictly limited to graffiti; it also includes graffiti-inspired art. Artists range in age from 16 to 45 and come from all walks of life.
Nailah sees the show as something that can help younger graffiti artists get a better grasp on what they’re really doing. “I think it’s good for them to be able to see that it’s also a relevant form of art and not just a bunch of criminals out there doing stuff.” Gelator agrees, saying that there’s a lot to be learned from the older graffiti artists. “You got a lot of the older writers, they’ve been through a lot. They’re done runnin’ from the cops. We’re trying to legitimize it.”
Jahmane, a Norwalk artist who began doing graffiti in his early teens, now describes himself as “an evolved street artist.” He’s taken his talents and translated them to canvases. He says “A Beautiful Crime” will act as “a good introduction for people out here to get a grasp on how street art is merging with fine art.”
Throughout the run of the show DJs, b-boys and beatboxers will stop by and artists will be on hand to answer questions. Emcees are not a part of the show, and that was a conscious decision by the “A Beautiful Crime” team. Branch feels that emcees might define people’s perceptions before they even get to the art, and the point of the show is to help people have more of an understanding of the art, so they decided to leave the rap aspect of hip-hop out of it.
The team behind “A Beautiful Crime” is also working with the city of Bridgeport to create a new “legal wall” for graffiti artists to do live art on, giving people a real view of the effort and skill that goes into creating a piece. Branch notes, “One of the problems the city has had was with illegal graffiti and tagging around the city. I think the city actually approving this and embracing this, I think it will take the steam out of the more illegal side of it.”