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New graffiti pieces drip with cred

click to enlarge Disinterested birds fly by Cub Scouts on West Side - Tattoos west wall. - CATHY CAYTON
  • Cathy Cayton
  • Disinterested birds fly by Cub Scouts on West Side Tattoos west wall.

Two walls in Colorado Springs boast new artwork, both legally, furthering the development of graffiti as a legitimate local medium.

On Saturday, Aug. 13, with his employer's blessing, Wooglin's employee Steve Menard, worked with fellow graff writers Vekst and Hint to paint a colorful mural on the restaurant's patio wall in just 11 hours.

Days later, artists from the Springs and Pueblo collaborated on an elaborate piece covering a wall at West Side Tattoo.

Menard started in graffiti when he was a junior in high school. A friend who had moved from Queens, N.Y., taught him about repetition, how to hold his hand, and how to work quickly, but not too fast, to prevent the spray paint from dripping. A large-scale piece is an exercise in control.

Menard says doing graffiti locally is highly competitive, with space at a premium and a constant threat of other graff writers painting over your work. The artists claim that there aren't many owners of large buildings who are willing to host pieces in Colorado Springs, so gaining access to one is a boon.

About 20 cans of paint went into the making of a looming dragon (the Wooglin's totem), volcanoes and the requisite tags. The writers worked together on the design, each bringing their individual talents to the table. Pueblo's Hint, for example, who's known for his iconic imagery, created the dragon.

click to enlarge Wooglins south wall features a looming dragon, - volcanoes and colorful tags. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Wooglins south wall features a looming dragon, volcanoes and colorful tags.

"Hint and Halo are big people who represent the positive side of graffiti in Colorado Springs," says Menard, noting that the two artists mainly work legally. "Of course, there's always the other side. Most writers don't have the ability to make a beautiful piece."

Instead, many writers are more concerned with "bombing," doing script quickly and repetitively, without ever breaking the line.

Intermingling with the Wooglin's dragon and volcano are highly stylized signatures, or tags. A study in the coolest-looking ABCs, tags also serve to credit the talents of the artist and claim a space as his own.

"I guess it's about fame, just like any other artist," Menard says.

The wall at West Side Tattoo took two days to complete, starting on a rainy Monday, Aug. 15, with the artists working about 12 hours each day. Participating graff writers included Vekst and Hint, as well as an amalgamation of Colorado Springs writers and Pueblo's Creatures crew: Halo, Herok, Vogue, Paes164 and Ikon.

The shop owners wanted a "Colorado theme," hence the Boy Scouts (Troop 719) raising a state flag, with their troop leader busily bird-watching.

Graffiti culture is loaded with debates about art and legality, and for those whose aim is to actually create a work of art, albeit a subversive one, it's a hard line to walk.

"For me it's about doing a nice piece and creat[ing] art, rather than be[ing] a vandal," Menard says.

-- Kara Luger

  • New graffiti pieces drip with cred

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