Not a Tag, It’s Art
certainly not your stereotypical art opening. No stark gallery
walls, no awkward classiness, no black-clad intensity, no
pretention. A mass of 20-somethings spills from the alley
alongside the Ultraviolet Café, bottled beers in hand. More
people arrive, and the wine breaks out in the café. People
sip cabernet from plastic cups as they peruse the art hanging
in the café, in the alley, and—the main attraction—the 40-foot-tall
mural that now runs along entire side of the Spectrum 8 Theaters.
The mural, Pinstripe Marauder, officially opened Monday
night, along with a weeklong art show at the Ultraviolet Café
featuring smaller pieces by the mural’s three creators, Mr.
Prvrt, Dwell, and oneUnit, three of the Capital Region’s most
active and respected graffiti artists. Pinstripe Marauder
is the largest project the team has ever taken on.
It’s certainly not your stereotypical graffiti art. Graffiti—it’s
one of those wildly encompassing terms that makes some people
think of gang tags and sharpie scrawlings on bathroom walls,
while others think street art, urban revitalization, public
expression. You’ll find no aimless scrawlings here. The mural,
commissioned by the Spectrum owners who have long been fans
of the trio’s work, is elaborate, intricate and thoroughly
planned. A huge, freakish, human monster cowers against the
edge of the wall, eyes goggled, sneakers untied, anxious.
A flock of crows swoops through the aerial space, detailed
down to the ruff of their feathers. A crowd (much like tonight’s)
trails the length of the wall, pointing, swatting birds, snapping
pictures, the folds of their clothes almost tactile. The overall
effect is near-photorealistic, created entirely with stencils
and spray paint. The team took hundreds of reference photos,
which they broke into gradients on the computer, then hand-drew
and -cut the stencils used to spray the mural.
Mr. Prvrt, with a beaming smile, speaks entusiastically about
the mural and about graffiti art in general. He believes graffiti
art has worked its way into galleries not only because it
is omnipresent, but because it is a vibrant, expressive, and
connecting form of art. “It has more life than art just made
to hang on walls,” He says. “It’s art for the community, art
to interact with.” It’s that very sense of interaction that
Pinstripe Marauder is created around. Not only are
the subjects of the mural all members of the community (a
little package of a boy rolls by us on wheelie-sneakers—he’s
sprayed on the wall as a tiny policeman), but the people who
stop to take in the massive scene become part of it. Like
those on the wall, the living crowd walks by, points, snaps
pictures. And then there are the crows—thousands of crows
roost behind the Spectrum, often swooping by the mural, almost
In addition to the Spectrum’s Pinstripe Marauder, the
Ultraviolet Café is full of smaller pieces by Mr. Prvrt, Dwell
and oneUnit. Almost all of them incorporate elements from
the mural, including huge crows, tiny squirrels, scrollwork,
small-scale versions of the crowd and the monster. The show
allows a glimpse of the individual artistic styles of each
artist, and how the trio weaves those styles together in the
The debate over the legitimacy of graffiti art may continue
indefinitely, but as Monday night demonstrated, so will the
art form itself.
PHOTO: Leif Zurmuhlen
7th annual Discard Avant Garb, the notorious and celebrated
“recycled fashion show,” was held Sunday evening at Capitol
Repertory Theatre on North Pearl Street in downtown Albany.
In addition to the couture made from transformed refuse that
adorned the models who stalked the catwalk, there was a variety
of entertainment. Poet and performance artist Mary Panza served
as master of ceremonies. MotherJudge sang. Ex-Firlefanz Gallery
mainstays Ed Atkinson and Cathy Frank staged a puppet production
of The Frog Prince, with music by cellist Monica Wilson.
And Jeffrey Jene worked his magic.
sold-out event, which was cosponsored by Tess’ Lark Tavern
(where the after-party was held) and Metroland, raised
funds for Albany Center Galleries and the Chris Ryan Scholarship
Fund. Pictured are a model dressed as, we suppose, a robot,
and another model with Discard Avant Garb cofounder Roxanne