Tag, You're It: Everett exhibit explores Graffiti Art from the streets, to the canvas
American Graffiti: From the Streets to the Canvas{ }features a one of a kind, comprehensive exposition of the genre. The exhibit will allow the community a rare public viewing of 85 spectacular Graffiti Art originals held in a private collection. (Text and Image: Schack Art Center)

Many things are temporarily closed this summer and that includes most museums. While you can still get your creative fix on by checking out public art - like the murals of the International District or Capitol Hill,  but there aren't many opportunities to check out old-school exhibits. That's why Schack Art Center in Everett is so special.  You can still get your art fix with their new exhibit  'American Graffiti: From the Streets to the Canvas' through September 5th. We ZOOM-ed with Schack's Executive Director Judy Tuohy to learn more.

Seattle Refined: Judy - a lot of art museums and places that have art exhibits are closed right now, but Schack Art Center in Everett is open - and you have a very cool exhibit, can you tell me a little but about that?
Judy Tuohy/Exec Dir. Schack Art Center: Yes! We have a graffiti exhibit 'From the Streets to the Canvas' right now.  The exhibit is a collection by a gentleman who, over the last 20 years, has been going out meeting the graffiti artists from throughout the country and flying them back to the Northwest area and having them replicate their paintings.  

There are so many colorful pieces to take in. (Image: Schack Art Center)

For those of us who don’t know how to put a definition on it, what is graffiti art?
Graffiti is a word based on the graphic art form and it comes through signing names, signatures, words that that replicate their names using spray paint cans, and it’s usually done outside which has given it kind of a negative connotation - unauthorized fences and streets and buildings and tunnels and freight cars. 

How long has graffiti art been created in the United States?
It really emerged in the 60s and 70s, in the inner cities with youth really wanting to have some way to express themselves.

There are some very large scale pieces, including work on freight cars. (Image: Schack Art Center)

How many pieces do you have in the exhibit, and what is the range in scale?
Almost all of the canvases are 6 feet by 10 feet in scale. There are a few that are smaller, we have over 60 canvases as well as 25 skate decks - which skateboard artists have also painted reproducing what they’ve done.

In terms of the three "must-sees" - what do you suggest?
The first one would be the Freedom Tunnel from New York City. Basically in the 80s - it [The Freedom Tunnel] was a place where a lot of homeless lived. Chris Pepe was the artist, he painted over 90 murals in the Freedom Tunnel.

Pieces inspired by work in New York's Freedom Tunnel are part of the exhibit. (Text and Image: Schack Art Center)

And then we have our freight car works upstairs. Which, these were all freight cars and they have replicated the freight cars to even look like a freight car, down to the numbers the letters on the freight cars. The wheels of the train, very very detailed. It’s pretty amazing. Of course a couple of my favorites are APEX and Neon, and they are very well known graphic artists today. They have made a living with graffiti art. They go around the country they are commissioned for many murals. We were really fortunate to have them up to Everett and they just finished the south side of the Schack art building with a mural - and it's fantastic.

With the health concerns - what are you guys doing to keep everybody safe there?
We only allow 25% capacity in the facility with masks and hand sanitizer and everything.

Are you hoping this will give people a fresh take on graffiti art?
Yes we certainly hope so and that is one of the questions we kind of like people to answer for themselves, you know, is graffiti art? What is art if graffiti is not - is what I say! 

'American Graffiti: From the Streets to the Canvas' is showing at Schack Art Center in Everett through September 5th. 

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