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Photos courtesy of Erwin Recinos AKA Los Ojos de Muerte

Vyal Reyes and I met at a warehouse in East Los Angeles. This location is a writer’s paradise with the smell of spray paint always in the air. Each building on this street is covered in tags, and the wall near the entrance of the warehouse has a new burner by Hex LOD. Vyal first introduced me to his students, who are young artists who attend his aerosol workshops at Self Help Graphics. Students attending these workshops are exposed to all aspects of using spray paint to create art.

From there we made our way into the studio. Reyes is currently the resident artist at Self Help Graphics. Self Help Graphics is a community visual arts center located on 1st Street just west of Boyle Heights and is a recognized center for Latino Arts offering programming, exhibitions, workshops and outreach. Artists such as Patsi Valdez, Gronk, Chaz Bojorquez and Lalo Alcaraz have all worked with SHG. Vyal is now a part of that rich history. His goal at SHG for 2012 is to collaborate with different aritsts and to work alongside the master printer Joe Apuche. With Vyal’s reclusive tendencies, this is an opportunity for him to grow artistically with artists and an audience he may not normally have had contact with.

My previous encounter with Vyal was at the Estria Battle this past summer hosted by Crewest Gallery. As we spoke he shared with me a story about Chaz Borjorquez encouraging him to pursue a career as an artist and helping him land some of his first art shows. It stuck with him, as not many people will do that these days and it takes courage to to pursue your passions. Vyal Reyes has since made a living doing what he loves and has not looked back. Graffiti saved his life, and he continues to give back both through art and community service.

To see more photos visit Erwin Recinos on Flickr.

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