Monday, July 9

Deuce Seven & Street Art Reconsidered

After laying low and working up a local following in the Twin Cities, graffiti artist Deuce Seven (aka: Deuse Sevin, Deuce 7, or just simply 27) recently made two trips to New York City, one in January of this year and then again in March, that catapulted his work into the national spotlight in a surprising way. Unlike other recent graff-world news to draw widespread attention (see the Splasher fiasco here, here, and here), 27's work is noteworthy for its creative merit and beautiful execution - as exhibited below.

photo: Surlygrrrl

I'd like to use 27's work to air out some thoughts on how street art is changing and invite you to do the same if you're so inclined. During 27's second stay in the Big Apple The Village Voice posted a short interview with him and posed the question: "Is a guy from Minnesota the new king of New York street art?" - proving that talent will always trump gimmickry and prolific output, even in the graffiti-saturated New York streetscape.

But there are two aspects of his work that have been yet ill-commented on that interest me most. The first is 27's apparent dedication to and embracement of the temporal characteristic of his medium. Where most graffiti is driven by some combination of 1) real estate of the public realm and 2) ease of accessibility in the cover of night, 27 seems to forgo the immediate limelight in favor of encouraging those interested in his art to seek it out in the liminal and often condemned space of the city.

[Sidenote: This isn't to say he won't paint well known spots. He hit the Williamsburg Bridge (a kind of graff-world landmark in NYC) with beautiful pieces both times he was there.]

photo: GammaBlog

photo: setstatic

The second aspect of his work that interests me is the way in which it has spread. His work is so well represented online that I will go so far as to announce the emergence of a new kind of "street art paparazzi", people compelled to scour urban outer realms, find his work - and the work of others, document it, and share it online.

photo: Luna Park

In this approach, it seems that 27 has at least partially sidestepped the most common argument against graffiti. Rather then "vandalizing" the public realm, he paints in buildings destined for demolition, or in other cases simply screws art into street sign posts. The hunt for his work often takes the viewer far from every day life in the city, but through his cultivation of the street art paparazzi, more people then ever before are able to see his art. It should be said that this is not an entirely new phenomenon, but I do think that 27 is doing it better then anybody else at the moment. At the vary least, the artist's work and recent notoriety in New York City provide a good segue into a larger discussion about the changing place of street art in the city...

... and of course provide me with an opportunity to display a little MPLS pride.

[Thanks is due to the numerous photographers on Flickr and elsewhere who make this often temporary art permanently available to a global audience. Check out their photographs: dancypants, TrespassersWill's, The Curse of Brian, Luna Park, and Artistikfunk and show them some love.

UPDATE: Or you could go straight to the source: Twenty~7's Flickr account via Format.]


shubh cheema said...

its just amazing .......the walls of the streets are your canvas.....

Andrew Comfort said...

I'm impressed with the fluidity of this work...been seeing it around, but unable to place who, what, where....thanks for the post, now I know this is 27 (which is three of my favorite numbers) from Minneapolis.