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Celebrating the WAI Crew’s 23 Years ~ “Still Posted”

2:00 PM PST on November 30, 2015

    [dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap] group of graffiti artists known as WAI Crew celebrated their 23rd anniversary with an art show on Sunday, November 15th in Downtown Los Angeles. The theme of the show was the title, “Still Posted.” This title was used to symbolize their use of graffiti as a tool of communication to deliver a message of creativity. The artists printed numerous amounts of oversized U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail stickers (as wheatpastes), which are huge favorites among the “slap-tag” writers and reflects the basic function of the vandal… tagging, or “getting up.” These slap tags were mimicked and custom made with replacement words; such as: “PRIORITY GRAFF” and “UNITED STATES WAISTED CREW.” Then they were slapped along the walls in one of the show rooms to the event.

    Before we take you on a tour of a fun-filled graffiti inspired celebration, let’s get to know some of the crew’s history with WAI’s very own long-time crew member, Plek...

    Wendy Random: When and where was WAI formed and by who?

    Plek: We started WAI in Compton around the end of 1992 and we established our core members of the crew by 1993. It was founded by Bomb, 2Shae, Tazer, Fritz, Provoke, Neces, Kenr, and me.

    WR: Each individual letter in “WAI” has had much significance. When the crew first started, what did it stand for originally?

    Plek: “Wicked And Insane” was WAI’s initial meaning but it became to mean more for us over time. Like when Bill Clinton was claiming he didn’t inhale. We began promoting: We Always Inhale, One Wai Crew, and, Waisted Crew. Also; Wisdom And Imagination, We Ain’t Impressed, and, Without Any Instructions.

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    WR: Approximately how many people are in the crew and where are they spreading their art?

    Plek: The crew is about 80 deep. We have a handful of members that are out of state.

    WR: How would you describe WAI overall as a whole?

    Plek: Graffiti consists of many components simplified into some basic categories: tags, bombs, pieces, characters, productions. And our goal is to master or encompass them all. And since many of our members are unaffected by criticisms or praise, and prefer to remain out of the limelight (or choose to remain humble while under it), “Still Posted” reminds our culture that we are still here perfecting our craft and making it happen for ourselves with or without sponsorships or endorsements.

    WR: Any additional thoughts you’d like to share specifically about the “Still Posted” show?

    Plek: This show signified our 23rd anniversary and directly related to the 23rd letter of the alphabet, which is the “W.” So, it’s a great opportunity to showcase what we’ve been up to, and how far we have come while celebrating what we represent… ONE WAI YOUR WAI!

    Absorb that in. Okay, now… Back to the festivities.

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    There were five main wall spaces where the crew presented their views on graffiti, street, and fine art. The first area was a free-for-all tagging room; named, “Hit Me Up.” The artists prepared the room with some bombs, tags, and a few wheat pastes of the crew’s roll call on the “Priority Graff” stickers. This room was an open invite to all attendees, welcomed to “get up” on any spot in the room.

    The second wall space was named, “Mind Frame.” It is the longest wall in the show presenting framed artworks and canvases ranging from raw pieces to colorful letter schemes; featuring artists such as: Seroe, Fritz, and Sker. They also exposed more conceptual and detailed work by the artists, like: Craola, Tewsr, and Plek.

    The third wall was named, “Graff Belongs On Walls” and it consisted of a collage of members’ pieces (names) stacked on top of each other and with crew member tags around them. Then, they placed blank white canvases and frames on the higher portion of the wall to remind everyone about graffiti’s true environment… That it is out on the streets and on the walls. Ironically, guests felt that the canvases needed more tags on them, and at one point people were boosting each other up to catch a spot on a hanging canvas.

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    The fourth wall was the main attraction: “The Commentary Is Getting In The Way.” The center of the wall was adorned with a large spray-painted gold frame. Inside of it was a painting by Plek of a graffiti artist’s head wearing a paint mask, centered in between a “One Wai” piece, with a mini cityscape under a midnight sky as a background. Peek then wheat pasted random characters of people on his piece with their backs turned to the audience and blocking the view of the artwork, along with speech bubbles above each character with comments that were disconnected to the authentic nature of the art.

    “This is the meaningless commentary that’s getting in the way of enjoying and appreciating the true artwork and the original expression.” explained Plek. “Now, with the use of social media, these opinions and comments run rampant throughout our subconscious, and influence our personal feelings and our social status," he added. “And it seems we’ve become addicted to gossip, praise and criticism, and fiend for our social media communities responses to further our own habit of posting!” This wall created a contrasting experience. The viewer may focus on the commentary, or on the artwork itself. Plek’s thoughts: “How could you trust you are getting an accurate view, unless you see it for yourself?”

    The last wall was a memorial for the crew’s fallen members, who included: Photo, Noxn, and Provoke. The wall was named, “Never Forgot” to remind everyone of all they have experienced together as a crew and a family.

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