In Los Angeles, graffiti can be found on just about any large, blank surface, from road signage to building façades. Sometimes it's ugly, sometimes it's beautiful. But few know just how deeply urban art is steeped in a tradition that lies beneath all the layers of spray paint and wheat paste. Fortunately, there's a new monthly public tour from L.A.-based Cartwheel Art where audiences can learn firsthand about the differences between writers and taggers, throw-ups and rollers, pieces versus slap-tags and more. And since a walking tour tends to work up an appetite, this one conveniently comes with a side of beef — that's why it's called the Graffiti and BBQ tour.
The brand-new urban excursion debuts Sunday, Aug. 26, with Steve Grody leading a group of the curious. A photographer, graffiti historian and the author of Graffiti L.A.: Street Styles and Art, Grody is one of the leading experts in the field of L.A.'s homegrown urban-arts scene.
For this tour, he'll be joined by graffiti artist Joseph “Nuke” Montalvo — a member of the UTI crew, which has artfully improved the city's landscape with innumerable cans of aerosol since 1986. Oh, and in this case, UTI doesn't stand for urinary tract infection but the acronym does have multiple interpretations, including Using the Imagination, Un Talento Increíble, Under the Influence, Unite Then Ignite, United to Inspire and Understanding Today's Issues.
The kid-friendly Sunday-afternoon Graffiti and BBQ tour winds down at Pearl's BBQ, where participants have the opportunity to participate in a graffiti lettering workshop while fortifying themselves with Texas-style grilled vittles.
Cartwheel Art founder Cindy Schwarzstein sums it up: “I’m excited to be partnering with our neighbor Pearl’s BBQ and creating this immersive experience right in our own backyard. Steve Grody has been documenting graffiti in the Arts District for more than 28 years, and Nuke is a well-respected member of a graffiti crew that’s been in the neighborhood for 30 years, so this is a special tour, both historically and artistically.”