November 15th, 2010
Houston Street Art: The Wild Styles
After tackling The Stencils and The Wheat Pastes, the albatross I hung around my neck was the third installment of our Houston Street Art Series. The Wild Styles have always been something that proved to be more difficult to track down. They don’t fit neatly on the electric boxes of traffic signals or just beneath the overhang of a vacant building. They’re big and boastful and dominate the side of a building.
Four months ago, I took out a notebook and started trying to jot down all the names I’d seen painted on the walls in Houston. After getting the crews mixed up with the artists, time and time again, I decided it was probably best to give up. So, in a way I did. Until my latest drive around town when I came across this wall.
The anxiety of breaking into the industrial complex was only part of the excitement. We’ll call it a bit of a breakthrough. With Abels, Stone, Ekos, Lingo and a couple of unknowns (each link goes to a close up) stretching out in front of me, it was well worth losing a lens cap in the brush I had to push back to find the fence to squeeze through.
This was the first magnet that I had found on my own. That’s worth celebrating, right? If I were to have popped the champagne, the bottle would have smashed on the ground. Right behind me was another worthy wall up against the train tracks that run parallel to Washington Ave. All that stood between me and it was another fence to violate. Trespassing always comes in groups of two…
I’d love to tell you how long these have been up, but I really have no idea. It could have been last week, it could have been years ago. All I know, is that on a Sunday after driving around for an hour, it was a majestic sight.
Once again, Abels, Ekos and Lingo tagged in unison. You see the same names together enough times, and you start to realize that there is a bit of method to the madness. Why one name with a ton of others tagged around the colorful piece? What about the names that don’t seem like names at all?
Welcome to the crews. It’s a concept that seems logical, but for some reason escapes me since crews tag together more often than not. After that, good luck trying to figure out which each acronym means.
That’s not even the half of it. Besides Def Threats (DTS), Revels ‘Til Death (RTD) and Rebels Takin’ Down Krooks (RTDK), there’s no telling what means what. Even the above could be wrong, not to mention the list above could include artists’ names and not crews.
That’s when Give Up becomes a sight for sore eyes (not Eyesore, mind you). Even though, it’s a stretch to group Give Up along with these other wild style artists, this piece in particular is enough of a crossover for me to include it in this part of the Street Art Trilogy.
When the train started rolling in, I figured it was a good time to escape the little haven that I happened upon. Finding my way back to the Montrose area, I found that Seyes had a few unsavory things to say. Check out the original, but if you don’t want to go that far… “Ayo, I’m the wickedest. If n*ggas say I’m p*ssy, I dare ‘em to try 2 stick their d*ck in this.” Well, that’s not nice at all…
Good thing the wholesome tagging of Abels was right around the corner. Tagged for DZ? Tagged with DZ? Or is “DZ” the combination of DTS and D30. Or is it just a shortened “DTS”? My brain is exploding once again.
In that vein, it’s always nice to come across a loner. If you’ve ever walked a block in Montrose, you’ve seen Etoms’ unique signature gracing every light pole, fence line, curb, etc. Honestly, it’s everywhere, but this one right underneath a looming Houston skyline is my favorite so far.
After hanging out with Etoms, I drove down through Midtown to a spot that I had seen at the beginning of my street art obsession. Unfortunately, the buff monster caught up to this one. Luckily I had grabbed some photos the first time around (close-ups here, here and here) of the BK crew.
A little further down the street, Etoms found a way to be seen by piggy-backing on Pruf. Then again, maybe they’re the same person. Maybe they’re buddies. Who am I to tell you what’s what?
The Southeast side of town has it’s own scene. I came across this building in the middle of the night this summer. Needless to say, I felt like I was probably calling a bit too much attention to myself taking flash photography in the dead of night. I asked someone about the spot, but have since forgotten what the story was behind it. Another magnet for you to find, if you dare. (The Cutthroat stencil in this article is from the same spot.)
Which brings us to the lawyer’s office at Dowling and Pease. A legal wall that has been taken over by DTS, D30 and RTDK. Vizie, who is predominately an LA artist, makes an appearance (just as he did with Chester Cheetah in the original Street Art Tour), but it’s the Rock101 Radio that really makes this wall.
Because the night photo three spots back isn’t any good. Here’s a legible Machine on the Lawyer’s office wall. I’m not sure why I’ve never made it back to the Polk Street spot, maybe I feel like I wore out my welcome that first night. Even though, I’m probably wearing out my welcome by writing about this at all.
Finally, back in my neighborhood we come back to something that doesn’t fit outright in this post. Another piece by Give Up in the basement of a demolished building. Wild style, it is not. If anything it’s just a simple “throw up” by the artist, but I needed something to tie the tour together.
It’s a good thing that a “throw up” by Lingo was right behind me. Always good to finish on a strong, if not relevant, note.
And so ends our trilogy. From here on out I can just concentrate on the expeditions themselves instead of trying to make sense of it all. As with all art, there is not sense to be made. We’re all just observers of the craft. We’re all critics in our own right. We’re all just here to see what happens next. And that’s how it should be.
Check out the Hi-Res photos here – Houston Street Art: The Wild Styles
Feel free to correct any mistakes I made (in the comments below or on Flickr).
Keep a lookout and, as always, add your photos to our Street Art Group on Flickr.