Everett’s getting creative when it comes to safely enjoying the world of street art. At Schack Art Center, the American Graffiti Exhibit featured an unprecedented collection of more than sixty large canvases, showcasing original work by the bold, pioneering artists that helped evolve the genre. A niche but vital aspect of America’s art history is revealed in these energetic graffiti-style pieces recreated by the artists of iconic works on subway walls, train cars and many other improvised canvases across the nation.
Renowned graffiti artists Apexer and Neonski teamed up to create a massive and stunning mural on the Schack Art Center’s south wall. Schack’s new documentary American Graffiti: from the Streets to Canvas by filmmaker Jordan Dae Parmenter of Jordan Dae Films shows these two famous artists’ creative process, so you can watch the mural come to life. The film also features interviews with Apexer, Neonski, Snake 1 and Jag Artworks owner Jason Grim, with each artist sharing some of the exciting and even dangerous aspects of their early careers.
Grim contributed to the exhibit and has bolstered local graffiti art with his art-supply shop, which has become a safe-space and a one-stop destination for artist spray paint and supplies.
“We’re trying to grow a community of graffiti artists who are exceptionally talented and devoted to their own work,” Grim said in the documentary interview. “You give them a wall, you give them some time, they’re gonna produce something that’s extremely beautiful.”
Snake 1 recalls the evolution of graffiti, starting as early as the 70s when the youth of his community sought excitement and fame by tagging; first with magic markers and later with spray paint.
“The more places you tagged your name, the more famous you got,” Snake 1 said.
He was among the first to exhibit his work on canvas and with galleries, and recounts the risk of tagging police vehicles at the station. It was his retribution for the officer who painted ‘P.D.’ on the back of his jacket after he and a friend were caught in the act. Snake 1 and other featured artists paint a picture of the story behind the progression of graffiti, with fame, rivalries, risk and the fast changing nature of a new emerging style of art.
San Francisco writer Neonski describes how the style grew from simple monikers to the complex, full color piecing done today.
“All of the artwork is based on letter forms and names. Some artists are more direct and they want it legible. Other artists take it to a different place so that it can be more abstracted. That’s where I kinda fall into it,” he explained in the documentary. Neonski describes how public art inspired him in his youth and gave him a way to express his voice. He was encouraged to create public art that anyone could see and be inspired by.
Everett has jumped at the chance to showcase talented artists and liven up the downtown streets with art. Near Funko HQ, a new mural by Don Clark of Invisible Creature welcomes creatives and ‘makers’ to Everett, with art that displays the culture and industry that is building the city up into something great. The mural reads “Everett Welcomes You” and can be seen just east of the intersection of Colby Avenue and California Street.
The American Graffiti Exhibit is on display until Sept. 5, with more graffiti art on display throughout downtown. Businesses in downtown Everett are displaying locally-painted art panels in their windows, commissioned from spray paint artists by Schack Art Center and Jag Artworks. Keep an eye out for lots of new and ever-adapting art from Everett’s emerging community of graffiti artists.
Schack Art Center, 2921 Hoyt Ave Everett, Wa 98201
- American Graffiti Exhibit: June 25 – September 5, 2020
JAG ArtWorks, 2940 Colby Ave, Everett, WA 98201
Special thanks to Schack Art Center for some of the photos in this article
Written by Jared Doolittle, City of Everett intern