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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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A Beautiful Crime - Spray It Loud
Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bridgeport’s Fame City was one of the most celebrated graffiti spots in the country before it was shut down. Right now, New York City is in danger of losing its famed graffiti spot, 5Pointz. Graffiti artists simply don’t have many hospitable environments where they can practice their craft. What they need is a place where they can hone their skills, and a little re-imaging in terms of the public’s perception of them. The graffiti inspired art show A Beautiful Crime, which runs from March 25 to April 25th at the ground floor gallery in Read’s Artspace, hopes to provide both.

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 many of the misconceptions people have about graffiti artists. 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 just one of the many artists whose work will be featured at the show, which isn’t limited to just graffiti as it also includes graffiti inspired art. Artists range in age from 16 to 45 and come from all walks of life. Branch has appreciated much of their work for quite some time. “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.” This was part of the inspiration for A Beautiful Crime.

The foursome behind the show also saw Bridgeport as a potential hub for artists. According to Branch, “we saw this would be a great opportunity to launch this arts scene here along the same scale as Hartford and New Haven.”

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.” Nailah adds “(young artists) need to understand as kids that you can still be fly in the same way and still be a quote-unquote legitimate artist to everybody else.”

Jahmane, a Norwalk artist who began doing graffiti in his early teenage years, but now describes himself as “an evolved street artist” as he’s taken those talents and translated them to works on canvas, feels a show like this can also positively affect the entire artistic community. “I think it’s a good introduction for people out here to get a grasp on how street art is merging with fine art.” Just like Pacer, Jahmane will be showing pieces at A Beautiful Crime, as well.

In addition to the completed pieces that will be on display, and available for sale, the team behind A Beautiful Crime is also working with the city of Bridgeport to have a “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. The live wall will also serve as a slightly unexpected example of the city’s support. 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.” The event will also feature DJs, b-boys and beatboxers setting the mood, and opportunities to ask artists questions.

Emcees are not a part of the show, and that was a conscious decision by the Beautiful Crime team. Branch feels that emcees might sway people’s opinions before even getting 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.

A Beautiful Crime could be a large step for the area’s graffiti artists. According to Gelator, “we just want to enlighten people on these different types of art. There are different types of art out there. We have a whole lifestyle behind it.” It’s a lifestyle that A Beautiful Crime is looking to breathe new life into.

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.

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