In recent days, certain members of New York’s
City Hall have raised significant concern over an outdoor art exhibition
scheduled to be held on Wednesday, August 24, on West 22nd Street between 10th
and 11th Avenues. The City has gone so far as to revoke an event permit we have
had in hand since July 18, 2005.
Unfortunately the spirit of the
event, as it was originally conceived and as it has been presented to the
appropriate civic groups and government officials since November 2004, seems to
have been lost in the haste to stereotype all graffiti-style artists as
“vandals” and to brand this event as a “promotion of crime.”
core, this is an event designed to celebrate an art form born from the streets
of New York over two decades ago as a means of creative self expression,
allowing the public a unique chance to experience the workmanship and skill that
go into creating a piece of art fine enough to hang on the walls of any
traditional gallery or museum. Upon completion, a 48 foot mural will be donated
to The Point, a Bronx-based nonprofit youth development organization, while the
remaining nine will be placed throughout the city for public display.
/>This is my tribute to the 20 participating artists whose works now command top
dollar across the globe, as well as to an art form powerful enough to permeate
virtually every moment in our lives, from the ads and music videos we watch on
TV to the products we wear and consume.
I am not, for the record,
here as a graffiti artist. My style pales in comparison to people like Pink,
Cope2, and T-Kid. I am, however, here as a by-product of their sense of style
and their truly unique aesthetic language, drawing influence from their work in
every one of my business ventures and surrounding myself at night with their
canvas, photographs, and sculptures.
I am well aware that drawing
graffiti in public places is a crime, and I do not condone or encourage it. At
the same time, however, graffiti is a legitimate and historical part of the
great art history of our city. The visual dialect is alive and well, and
contrary to the opinion of certain elected officials, just because you draw on
paper that way doesn’t mean that you are writing on walls. That is the dialect
that these artists and others like them dream through, that informed their
creative energy so early on and helped them to go on to become a muralist, a
film maker, a story teller, and even a clothing designer.
We are, as
we have for nearly 10 months, continuing our dialogue with the proper
authorities to reach a mutually agreed upon means of hosting this event on
August 24 as planned. I have retained legal counsel who will vigorously and
zealously represent my First Amendment interests, and those of my fellow artists
and the community at large. In the meantime, I will continue to focus on what
promises to be an enjoyable day of free art and music for the city that is home
to my operations and that so generously embraced our “Save the Rhinos” benefit
concert in Central Park less than two months ago.
- Marc Ecko