June 23, 2000

Graffiti Art Exhibition Event Opens Doors of Opportunity

A free exhibition of graffiti art will take place on Saturday, June 24, from 2 to 6 p.m., at 5125 Market Street, near the corner of Market and Euclid just east of the Tubman-Chavez Multicultural Center. The event will be hosted by the organizers of Graff Creek, a group of community artists who have opened new doors of opportunity for graffiti artists to use this medium for expression, learning and growth.

About 40 graffiti artists, ranging in age from 12 to 28, will showcase current and past works, as well as conduct demonstrations of this unique form of artistic expression. Elevating graffiti art and artists to a new level of respect is the desire of Graff Creek organizer Victor Ochoa. He and his team of artists view graffiti as the most public and accessible art form in the country and feel it is an important component of the diverse cultures of the Diamond Neighborhoods which surround this area.

Ochoa, a Chicano mural painter who has been actively involved in the artistry of Chicano Park, has coordinated Graff Creek events Wednesday night for the past few weeks, and now brings this art form before a more public audience this Saturday.

At the heart of the project is the desire to differentiate between graffiti art and "tagging"—a practice in which graffiti is used as a sign of gang activity. In fact, graffiti art has deep cultural roots, and Graff Creek seeks to foster understanding throughout the community.

Graff Creek is an outgrowth of the current arts and design efforts that are being conducted in preparation of the new market Creek Plaza development. Market Creek Plaza is the innovative commercial development project coordinated by the Jacobs Center for NonProfit Innovation, the action arm of the Jacobs Family Foundation, and implemented by teams of area residents. Setting a new standard for commercial and community development, the development strategy promotes community inclusion in the planning, construction and operation of the Plaza and provides an opportunity for community-based ownership and long-term wealth creation for area residents.

As part of the project, numerous community artists have come together to work with the architects in designing and developing the plaza. They are currently developing showcase cultural pieces reflective of the diverse cultures represented by the Diamond Neighborhoods.

"The completed Market Creek Plaza design will incorporate graffiti art as well as other cultural art forms," said Ochoa. "Also, providing this positive outlet for graffiti art has curtailed some of the problems we were having with the tagging of bulldozers, trailers and retaining walls at the Market Creek Plaza site."

During the exhibition, Krylon paint, practice and prize walls, and refreshments will be provided for participants. The event will offer a variety of music performances, including a disc jockey and an open mic, spinning hip-hop and reggae. There will also be live performances by Shaman 12 and Odessa Kane from Masters of the Universe Energetic.

Participants in the exhibition range from children just starting out to those who create professional graffiti masterpieces. The historical roots of graffiti trace back to the preserved walls of Pompeii, Italy, before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. and in early Rome by Christians who used symbolic religious graffiti on the walls of the catacombs.

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