Tonight at Secession: Creating Graffiti History on Muni
Artist Nate1 is one of the many talented folks who will display their work tonight at Secession Gallery, where we are inviting you to see art, graffiti, and clothing, all inspired by Muni, BART, and our great city. Nate is also the owner and designer of New Skool, a kids’ hip-hop clothing line. He was a part of a wave of graffiti mural art that took the Bay Area by storm in the 1980s. To get you warmed up for tonight, I asked Nate to share a little about how he got started and why Muni and San Francisco feature so prominently in his work.
How did you get started in art?
I got my start in design and art through graffiti art as the co-founder of the legendary Master Piece Creators Crew in SF/DC. As a father, business owner, and artist, I try to use my experience with graffiti art to pass on tradition and show young and old what graffiti has contributed to today’s society via art and design and more importantly the mentorship process.
I got into graffiti art through hip-hop culture in the 1980s. I always drew as a kid, but not until I was fully aware of the graffiti scene here in the Bay did I really spend a lot of time drawing. The Bay Area graffiti scene was pioneered in the early ’80s by teenagers and I am proud to be one of them.
Muni is in a lot of the SF scenes in your work — why?
When I was a beginner or toy in the scene, like ’85, ’86, I can remember a lot of my peers scrawling their names on the inside of the Muni after school. The tag or signature of the graffiti writer is the bare essence of graffiti, and my mentor, Omen2, was definitely one of those kids that bus-hopped and left his name on the bus. From this, the art form progressed to more elaborate art pieces or murals, and so the seed was planted.
What else about San Francisco inspires you?
San Francisco is such a great city to do what I do. I own a kids’ clothing line and sell art pieces and freelance a little bit. That sounds ridiculous even to me! But in San Francisco this can definitely be considered a feasible formula to make a living. With two kids, 7 and 4, I have all the inspiration I need. Hip-hop music also definitely plays a part in my creation/production process. Lyrics of good MCs like KRSONE or Rakim used to be written on our large graffiti murals to narrate the message we were portraying.
Come see Nate1, Eddie, Duerone, and a great group of artists at Secession tonight. Come prepared with a short Muni tale and you can share it in our story tent. We’ll have our handy Flip there to record your story, to be published later on Muni Diaries!
Outbound at Secession Art and Design
Tonight, Friday, June 11, 6:30 p.m.
3361 Mission St (across from 30th St Safeway)
Muni routes: 14, 49, J, 27, 24, 48, 67
BART: 24th Street Station
I appreciate graffiti art and I understand its role and contribution to the cultural life of our civilization and our city. Your piece above is lovely, as I’m sure your other work is too. I’m also willing to believe that certain of your graffiti works have added considerably to the excellence of San Francisco.
But scrawling your name on someone else’s property or on the landscape of the city is not “art”, nor is it a valid form of self-expression. It’s narcissistic, childish, and utterly disrespectful of all of the other people you have to live with in society — particularly those who have to clean it up. Dogs piss and taggers tag just to leave their mark; I see no difference between those two activities. I hate cleaning up dog piss and I hate cleaning up tags on my house and on my city.
Please teach your children well, so they can skip the “bare essence” of tagging and go straight to the “more elaborate art pieces” stage of their creative development. The difference between the two concepts is complex, but it is the essential difference between art and degradation.
Thanks for your time,
An art lover and SF citizen