Street Artists: The Primer | Art | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Street Artists: The Primer 

Wednesday, Jul 11 2007

Click here for "The Rise of the Seventh Letter," by Shelley Leopold.

Saber: HEAVY METAL MAGAZINE MEETS H.R. GIGER

Well spoken and outgoing, Saber is less elusive and quicker with stories than most of his counterparts. He’s currently working on projects with Scion and Boost Mobile, and his first book, Mad Society, is coming out in August. Saber’s first solo gallery show opens July 14 at White Walls, San Francisco. His greatest accomplishment, though, is his piece on the banks of the L.A. River, which holds the record as the world’s largest graffiti. It took 97 gallons of paint, a blown-out knee and more than 30 days to complete. For Saber, the Seventh Letter is a respite from coming up in other crews — he was almost killed during an old-school gang initiation and bears the scars to this day. His current gallery work includes intricate large-scale metal sculptures and brush-painted triptychs.

Retna: MODERN-DAY MARC CHAGALL

Largely figure-based and mosaic-like, Retna’s approach to his art is a personal one. Raised in a deeply religious family, he’s painted the “Digital Virgin Mary” in various neighborhoods to fight the evils of drugs and crime. All too often, they became shrines to someone who’s been killed in front of them. He didn’t go to school for art, but encourages others to get formally educated. “It just so happens my degrees are from the street schools of AWR/MSK. I’ve discovered I’m a traditionalist; as I read more books, I gain a greater understanding of my place in the world [of art], regardless if I agree with it or not. I never thought graffiti would be this much a part of my life. I’m about to be 30 and there’s still so much work to do. I’m not going to front and say that graffiti is the greatest gift, but it’s important to people and it’s not stopping anytime soon.”

Revok: MINISTER OF INFORMATION

Though he’s one of the best painters, whose ability to cut and blend is unrivaled, Revok does not want to be considered part of the gallery scene. “I want to do art that you can’t avoid — not that you have to seek out,” he says. “I’m about painting walls and being out in the city, interacting with people on a daily basis. I’ve had a lot of jobs, but art always remained my passion. I kept it to myself for 17 years. Finally, I had to come to the realization that this is who I am and I don’t want to go to prison for it. Eklips made it possible for us, through TSL, to make a living doing what we were meant to do.”

Push: BAUHAUS MOVEMENT ON MTV, CIRCA 1981

Trying to define Push’s work is unfair, and nearly impossible. It’s easier to say it’s like nothing else: informed by postmodern abstract splatter paintings, yet rigid, neon and precise. Push has evolved his distinct letter style into a series of beautiful ceramics more suited for the indoors. Someday, when he decides the time is right, these pieces will be introduced to the world via a gallery. For now, they are only for a select, very lucky few to see within the confines of his studio. Introverted and quiet, he’s the thinking man’s graf artist.

Rime: EAST COAST ’70S THROWBACK WITH GAUGUIN’S COLOR PALETTE

An L.A. resident with a heavy Jersey accent, Rime brings the best hand techniques of New York subway painting westward, transforming them into pieces that pop by incorporating amazing, off-the-cuff character design that Disney can’t touch. His work with schools and mentoring kids has helped The Seventh Letter gain ground in negotiating legal spaces to paint, not to mention helping to develop the style of the next generation.

Reach the writer at sleopold@laweekly.com

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