Remember wandering off from your mom in the store as a kid? That's how we felt this past weekend at the Summer Street Arts Festival, only it was the other way around after artist and event coordinator skeez181 grabbed our notepad, scribbled on it a bit, then left us alone in a two-story warehouse of artists and jewelry makers.
We weren't surprised or offended by skeez181's hasty exit; an event that included music, performance art, a puppet show, a fashion show, a live screen printing, laser light production, as well as food truck eats from A Tribe Called Feast and Eatsie Boys all in one night would leave anyone a bit frazzled.
So, we silently forgave him and walked around.
Except in the case of a few artists, the entire space seemed to be a celebration of underground graffiti art. The spray-painted stuff was everywhere: on easels, on papers, even shot onto the second-story walls of the gallery space. KREET-N's (pronounced "cretin," like the word) narrow hallway space, which housed glow-in-the-dark lightbox installations of doodles and cartoon characters, was the ballsiest of the bunch.
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There were a few artists in the crowd whose works transcended the graffiti trend, though. Blue 130, a sweet-as-pie New Jersey transplant whose busty images of women caught our eye, was one of them. "I like to draw a lot of women," said the artist, poet and former rapper. "I like the fact that women are a contradiction," she added, referencing the subjects of her pieces as representations of "sexual taboos," such as the piece of a glamorous woman with a corseted back, or another piece in which a woman holds a gun filled with lipstick bullets up to her face.
DAE UNO's paintings of celebrities and famous figures were there to subvert the graffiti trend as well. We gazed up at two oversized renderings, one of painter Frida Kahlo wearing a bemused expression and another of Mary Magdalene holding a boombox. (Oddly enough, this picture was conveniently located next to a DJ playing Dubstep.)
Maria Jackson (M.J. for short) was one of the many jewelry vendors in attendance, and while she did not create graffiti art per se, her spray can top necklaces, spray can top chandelier earrings and spray can top earring studs were inspired by her boyfriend -- another graffiti artist.
Although it's located on a dead-end street and was dampened by rain that started to pour just as it got going, folks kept arriving. It appears graffiti is hot right now and won't be cooling down anytime soon.