Emerge: ATX Graffiti Art Show

Back in San Antonio, in the 7th grade, I remember getting dropped off at school one morning and watching a small crowd gather around the outside of the auditorium. “Who did this? WHO did this??” yelled our agitated Assistant Principal, Mr. Green. He was referring to the auditorium’s freshly graffitied exterior: an exaggerated crown, a series of dots and dashes, big bubble letters that sort of looked like words. I turned to a girl next to me. “Uh….what is that?” I asked. “It’s from a gang,” she murmured, somberly. “And they’ve written that they want to kill Mr. Green.”

While this story is true Reader, I think that naive little Cole Haan loafer-wearer might have been making that last part up. See, most of us in 7th grade didn’t know how to decipher “gang writing,” per se. That message could have said, “Have a FABU day! Love, The Crypts!” for all we knew. But we assumed it meant bad news.

So. This was my introduction to graffiti. Did you have a similar experience? I bet you did. Which is why I’m really excited that a graffiti art show, “Emerge,” is happening in town this Saturday – to open our eyes a little. Curators Nathan Nordstrom and Warren McKinney will host Emerge on Saturday starting at 7pm at Spider House. It’s both a kickoff for the national “Pieced Together” art tour, a roaming graffiti art show of all-Texas artists, and a fundraiser for Austin Eco-School. In addition to the art, DJs Innerlign, Orion, and Charlie will be there doing their thing (have definitely jammed out to Orion before and loved), and there will also be live aerosol painting and laser tagging (? But, ok!)

Nathan and Warren were kind enough to stop by Austin Eavesdropper and give us the scoop on this event, and….a little background on Austin’s graffiti legacy.

1. Tell us how “Emerge – ATX Graffiti Art Show” came together.

Nathan Nordstrom: I was approached by Warren McKinney with the Art Seen Alliance to do an art show. I wanted to put on a show that would spotlight the talents of Austin’s graffiti artists, old and new.

2. Austin’s graffiti artist scene seems to be getting a lot of attention lately (and artists like Matt Rodriguez are getting national praise). Talk to us about the roots and legacy of graffiti art in this city?

Nathan Nordstrom: The history of ATX graffiti goes back to 1985. The first major writers were Skam and Sek. From there it grew.

3. The Pieced Together tour is heading to some amazing spots – The Whitney, Alpha Beta. How did Art Seen Alliance organize this ambitious tour?

Nathan Nordstrom: Slokeone is the curator of the Pieced Together Tour. The tour started as an idea from last years’ Pieced Together show at Gallery Lombardi.

4. I’ve heard it said that El Paso is becoming the “new Brooklyn” of underground artists and musicians: discuss.

Nathan Nordstrom: I here El Paso is quite the place. My boy” Grave” has been holding it down there for quite awhile in the graffiti art scene.

5. What is the Austin EcoSchool?! (I want to attend!)

Warren McKinney: The Austin EcoSchool is a progressive elementary school and learning center committed to providing a healthy environment for intellectual, social, and emotional growth. Their 3 day program provides a bridge between traditional school and home school. It is the only school I’ve witnessed where the children don’t want to leave.

6. Tell Austin Eavesdropper readers what Art Seen Alliance is all about, and how you got involved. (We recently had Rachel from the “Don’t Bring Me Down” event here at AE, who I believe received support from Art Seen. You guys do so much cool stuff!)

Warren McKinney: The Art Seen Alliance mission is to enable artists, make art accessible, and foster culture. We are engaged in cultivating a variety of artistic and cultural endeavors by working with artists and those that support and appreciate art. Austin is a very serendipitous town. I started pushing the idea of the Art Seen Alliance in September of last year and we have already developed a significant amount of impact and momentum. It is very exciting. Rachel from the “Don’t Bring Me Down” event pitched her idea to me at one of our openings at IF+D. Afterward, we discussed how we could help and offered her support and a venue for the opening. We are currently working with her on another project as well.

7. How can readers get involved with Art Seen?

Warren McKinney: The best way to get involved is to contact us via our website. We are involved in many projects and are looking to grow the alliance with others who are interested in supporting the mission.