Trust, respect allow graffiti artists to tag Winnipeg theatre
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 12, 2006 | 9:43 AM CT
As many as 15 local graffiti artists are leaving their marks on Winnipeg's Gas Station Theatre this week, at the invitation of the theatre itself.
The Gas Station has invited practitioners of what's commonly seen as vandalism to show off their work on the outside walls of its River Avenue building.
The project, spearheaded by the theatre's Steve McIntyre, arose from an agreement — a matter of trust and respect — between the theatre and neighbourhood graffiti artists.
"I wanted them to prove to me that they had some sort of street power," McIntyre said.
Earlier this summer, McIntyre painted all the planters and barricades around the theatre black and told the graffiti artists that if they could keep them clean for a month, they could spray them over.
A month later, without a speck of graffiti anywhere on the theatre property, McIntyre let the artists spray away.
The results impressed people in the neighborhood, leading McIntyre to extend his invitation to the building's walls.
"All they did was show me sort of what they were going to do. I was not trying to act like I was their boss or their art critic," McIntyre said.
"I wanted to let them do this the way they wanted, and they came up and showed me what they were going to do."
Two graffiti artists, known on the street as "Amuck" and "Bleak," faced the Gas Station Theatre's seven-metre high walls on Sunday night and plotted their next strokes.
Amuck said it was about time an opportunity like this came up in Winnipeg.
"It's kind of setting what Toronto and Montreal and Vancouver have been doing for years," the artist said. "Kind of setting the stepping stones for Winnipeg."
Bleak agreed, saying it's difficult to be recognized as an artist.
"I've already been around for a quarter-century and I don't feel like a punk or a street kid or anything. I'm doing legitimate artwork," Bleak said.
"Just because it's with aerosol it doesn't take away the merit of the art."
The two will be joined by a dozen more artists later in the week. They hope to finish their project by Sunday.
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