The Airing of Grievances
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Some New Yorkers may be saddened to learn that muralist/lo-fi graffitiist James De La Vega could be facing prison time (free subscription required) following a July 2003 arrest for criminal mischief, making graffiti and possessing graffiti intstruments. Unless you're a staunch believer in the broken windows theory, it's hard to say that the potential punishment fits the crime, especially in light of the many books that have been written about the importance of graffiti culture and its contributions to the vibrancy of New York in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
I'd rather he be brought up on charges of unimaginative sloganeering. While De La Vega is responsible for a few interesting, and rather beautiful, street murals, most of his work is essentially early Jean-Michel Basquiat without the whimsy, cultural relevance or coke-fueled art scene. The bulk of De La Vega's "portfolio" consists of saccharine missives, straight out of fortune cookie inserts or the script of the next Star Wars movie, chalked on the sidewalks of the Upper East Side. De La Vega, in a rather broad stroke, says his aim is to "make a difference". With aphorisms such as "In the theater of life, you too will have your moment", "You are your best investment", "Live each day as if it were your last", and my personal favorite, "I have just bought a piece of real estate in your mind", he appears better suited for writing Senior picture yearbook quotes.