Rain in the desert. That's how local graffiti artist Lucas Montano portrays Nocturnal Mockery's significance to Colorado Springs culture. Montano feels that a city should show strong support for all of the arts, including works of counterculture and defiance, such as graffiti art. Nocturnal Mockery 2, the second installation in a series that began in July of 2004, aims to display the voices and talents of our own young guerilla theaterists.
"This show is about presenting graffiti art in a context where it will be further appreciated," said Montano. "When it's done illegally, the skill, quality and color can sometimes be overlooked completely because the work is under a bridge or on a train; then people are hesitant to appreciate the piece's true beauty in its regular venue."
Graffiti artists have enjoyed no easy ride over the years, but that's part of what drives the art form. While Pueblo hosts a thriving graffiti scene (with more murals and legal space) and Denver boasts some of the country's most well-regarded artists, Colorado Springs is more a prohibition era-type scene with most kids operating in obscurity. The prerequisites for finding nice tags in Colorado Springs include accurate word-of-mouth and knowing the good spots that don't get buffed (painted over) immediately. The local police tend to be quite strict; a recent fine dished out by the anti-graffiti task force to a rumored scapegoat (pinned for everyone else's work in the city) was over $10,000.
"A lady showed up to the first Nocturnal Mockery show and asked all kinds of questions about our work and the scene; I later learned she was posing as a teacher and [was] there only to collect data on us," said Montano.
Nearly 1,200 other folks who were not undercover also turned out to the first Nocturnal Mockery and gave the artists an enthusiastic response.
"Graffiti is a multifaceted, deviant art form and lifestyle that does tend to have a mischievous sense to it," said Montano. "It is all about not abiding by the rules and going against a system that bombards us with huge ad campaigns and things like pro-life billboards. Graffiti art is a reaction, our answer back to them; in one sense bombing (displaying a risky piece and exposing it to as many people as possible) is political activism -- our version of patriotism, the starving artist's scream of frustration."
Nocturnal Mockery 2 will primarily be an exhibit of graffiti influenced art, but the weekend will also highlight area musicians' talents. Deejay Skip Ripkin and friends will spin throughout the show and locals Working Class will open around 8 p.m. on Friday night for Denver's Yo Flaco, a six-piece hip-hop-influenced jazz band.
Among participating visual artists are Emit, Jher, the Creatures Crew, and Jolt 68 with Life Crew. Local underground favorite Marc Huebert will be on display with Seth Lockard and Denver surrealist Christian Van Minnen. Native artist Kemic will be making a journey home from California to show his latest works. A large fund-raising raffle will offer a chance to walk away with gift certificates to anything from tattoo time at Holey Rollers to a limo ride.
"We just hope to build a base of appreciation and admiration for the artwork while creating an opportunity for our creative youth to show off their stuff," said Montano. "We want to inspire people during these three days."
-- Matthew Schniper
Nocturnal Mockery 2
Friday, March 11, 5 p.m. to midnight; Saturday, March 12, noon to midnight; Sunday, March 13, noon to 7 p.m.
Optical Reverb gallery at Cedars Jazz Club, 3125 Sinton Road (one block east of I-25 off Fillmore)
Free; call Cedars for more info at 578-5744.