"'Outside In,' show at the 1:AM Gallery focuses upon graffiti as art"
By Stephanie Wright Hession
Arts and Culture Writer
Though graffiti dates to ancient civilizations, it took recent artists such as Keith Haring to nudge this counterculture art form toward the mainstream.
While not wholly embraced, an appreciation for the urban art continues to be nurtured with an increasing number of galleries and museums presenting it, corporations seeking it and - in an ironic twist - property owners desiring it for the enhancement, rather than the defacing, of their buildings.
"Outside In," an exhibition opening Friday at the 1:AM Gallery, features 36 pieces, ranging from 2 by 2 feet to 3 by 4 feet, by nine California artists including BUTER, JURNE, KEB, UFO and WAND.
"We got the idea by seeing graffiti blending into these urban landscapes, amongst the drugs, poverty, advertisements, traffic, noise, etc.," says Roman Cesario, the gallery's art director. " 'Outside In' is created to take graffiti off of the streets and in a more comfortable, personal viewing space, so the art can be approached, dissected and appreciated."
The gallery focuses on the positive qualities of urban and street art, with themed exhibitions displaying creations by local and international artists.
"I chose the artists by viewing their art for many years and carefully choosing graffiti artists that represent different styles and letterforms," Cesario says. "These graffiti writers represent graffiti as it should be. Good people that produce beautiful public works."
Artist Joseppi DiMarco, 29, who started using the street artist name KEB about 20 years ago, integrates hues of turquoise, blue and plum into his works - colors he says "represent life and the ability to create."
"My style is what I would call traditional funk - funky letters with cool color schemes and great characters," the San Francisco artist says, adding, "I often do murals inspired by my drawings, which are related to how I feel and what I see. I live to paint and create.
"This show will give everyone a chance to bond with graffiti and its artists. My art is for the city and its people. It's not selling you anything or saying more than 'I love to create.' I don't mind if it is not for everyone, nothing is. I just hope people embrace this culture and start to decriminalize the art by creating outlets for artists."
Opening reception 7 p.m. Fri. Through March 12. Noon-6:30 p.m. Tues.-Sat., noon-4 p.m. Sun. 1:A.M. Gallery, 1000 Howard St., S.F. (415) 861-5089. www.1amsf.com.