MODERN GRAFFITI BEGAN in Philadelphia in the early sixties, when Cornbread and Cool Earl scrawled their names all over the city. By the late sixties, it was flourishing in Washington Heights, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. The New York Times took notice in July 1971, with a small profile of a graffiti artist named TAKI 183. But Julio 204 was using a magic marker and spray paint on city walls as early as 1968, and in 1971, writers like JOE 182 began “bombing”—marking as many surfaces as possible.
By the late seventies, Dallas had one of its' own “writers” (graffiti artist), Sholz making his mark on this city. By the eighties Dallas had crews that formed... IC, UD, and RA. The works of these crews along with Sholz can still be seen all around the city. In 2000, out of Oakcliff, a new, younger crew came on the scene, Sourgrapes13. The Sourgrapes crew, following in the footsteps of Keith Haring and Basquiat, began to legitimize their art works by having their work commissioned for public projects and holding fine art exhibitions across the country.
The Sourgrapes13 learned their art form on the streets, in the dark, with the adrenaline of being caught for vandalism. It started as lines on pages, then adding perspective with full murals and finally brought to the canvas in a more controlled fine art environment. What comes from this evolution are well executed pieces of art that continue to tell the stories of their lives and influences.
The street art movement has been making a splash here in Dallas with the Dallas Contemporary hosting the Sourgrapes13 collective's graffiti installation. The works were a series of graffiti pieces in the Contemporary's main hallway that paid homage to fellow graffiti artists that have passed away; taken too soon from their friends and families. Neiman Marcus even wants some of this Sourgrape flavor for it's storefront windows. Dallas is all agape over this talented and strong collective of 15 artists and growing.
I had the pleasure of visiting their studio one Saturday and sitting down with the main members of the collective along with the curator of their upcoming show, Frankie Garcia III. Carlos Grapes’ fine art lined the studio; each work illustrating the people and objects that are found in his everyday life. You find the influence of Catholicism, graffiti symbols such as bats and bandana’s painted over faces, and family. This work is strong, relative and tells a story of a young man growing up in a community where he was supported and loved. Solidarity and loyalty are worn as badges of honor.
The upcoming show, WONDER YEARS, will take you through the collectives early years and the evolution of their lives as street artists turned fine artists. The show will be at Rising Gallery, July 29– August 19. They are a grounded group of men who still know where they come from and keep each other in check and inspired.A+C Can you explain the concept of the upcoming show?
FRANKIE GARCIA III The SourGrapes13 collective have had many shows throughout the years and I’ve attended many of them and at each show you get a glimpse of a part of their “BIG picture.” This show is intended to dive into their pasts and show the cultural aspect involved with the collective and how their early influences have affected the growth of their work. Then show their present works and really focus on their purpose for their future as artists.
A+C What can one expect to see at Rising Gallery?
FRANKIE GARCIA III The SourGrapes13 are graffiti artists who have perfected their art and evolved into more refined fine art painters who paint to tell a story much like their original graf work told. Be expected to see graffiti works which represent their early years, works on paper which tell more of their stories, and works on board and canvas which represent their future and purpose as refined painters. They’ll also have sculptures at our exhibition, which tell stories about aspects of their individual lives.
A+C SourGrapes13 is a Dallas based collective. Their roots and loyalty are here. How will this translate in their work for the show?
FRANKIE GARCIA III Well put! That’s exactly right! Roots and loyalty are the soul of each of the artists, thus each of their particular styles in the graf work and fine art. They have developed styles that represent their Dallas roots and culture and that style is respected and known throughout the graf and art community. They have a respected presence throughout the region and their works are being seen more and more throughout the country. You could say, they represent Dallas, anytime, anywhere.
A+C Since this is a retrospective, will the work go beyond the graffiti style and showcase their fine art ability? What would you like for the viewer to walk away with?
FRANKIE GARCIA III Most definitely. That’s what this show is all about. I want the viewers, especially those unfamiliar with the collective, to have a visual glimpse of how these artists pasts have influenced the growth of their work to a point where it’s respected on a fine art level. They paint with a passion and a purpose. They stay focused on their “BIG picture”.
A+C As the curator, what about this collective has inspired you personally?
FRANKIE GARCIA III First and foremost, as a painter myself, I’ve always been a huge fan of their work, on a street level and fine art level. I see a lot of my culture in their works and I want to assist with their drive forward and share these stories. More importantly, I respect their work ethic and loyalty to their collective. They stay focused and united. They are an example of how our, Dallas, art community could have a huge presence nationally if we were more united and focused on the same “BIG picture” regardless of our differences. We have an art community with tremendously talented artists! We should be more focused on working together as a united front and represent our city nationally, with a passion and a purpose!
A+C What significant contributions has the SourGrapes13 collective made to Dallas in way of their public works and projects?
CARLOS DONJUAN We have done public projects for Studio 410, Oakcliff Bicycle Company, The East Dallas Boys and Girls Club, and our latest project at the Dallas Contemporary.
A+C Was there a specific reason Rising Gallery is hosting the show?
FRANKIE GARCIA III We chose to show this retrospective at Rising because the new location at 800 Jackson, Downtown, allows the space needed to really represent this story/retrospective properly. Bryan and Taber Wetz, the owners, show artists from all over the nation, but they have always welcomed and supported showing local and regional talent at their gallery. They support the individual artist.
A+C What's next for the SourGrapes13 collective?
CARLOS DONJUAN We will continue to do more art shows and mural work in the neighborhood, support the street art movement in Dallas and encourage it's growth. As far as large shows... we will take those as they come.
WONDER YEARS will show works from Carlos Donjuan, Arturo Donjuan, Emily Donjuan, Miguel Donjuan, Isaias Torres, Eddie Castro and Ricardo Oviedo of the Sourgrapes13 collective. The show will be held at Rising Gallery in Dallas, TX July 29– August 19.