OPEN LETTER TO THE CITY OF NEW YORKSorry for not posting here during the past couple weeks, but I have been staying on top of the lively dialog happening here and appreciate everyone's comments on the game. As you may have heard, I'm in a bit of a battle right now with New York City Hall over a free art event we have been planning since late last year. Unfortunately there's some people out there who don't care to differentiate between graffiti vandalism and graffiti art, and would rather try closing it down then allow these great writers to show off their talents. Anyway, I promise an inside look at the game very soon but in the meantime here's a letter I am circulating throughout the city today...
OPEN LETTER TO THE CITY OF NEW YORK
August 17, 2005
In recent days, certain members of New York’s City Hall have raised significant concern over an outdoor art exhibition scheduled to be held on Wednesday, August 24, on West 22nd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. The City has gone so far as to revoke an event permit we have had in hand since July 18, 2005.
Unfortunately the spirit of the event, as it was originally conceived and as it has been presented to the appropriate civic groups and government officials since November 2004, seems to have been lost in the haste to stereotype all graffiti-style artists as “vandals” and to brand this event as a “promotion of crime.”
At its core, this is an event designed to celebrate an art form born from the streets of New York over two decades ago as a means of creative self expression, allowing the public a unique chance to experience the workmanship and skill that go into creating a piece of art fine enough to hang on the walls of any traditional gallery or museum. Upon completion, a 48 foot mural will be donated to The Point, a Bronx-based nonprofit youth development organization, while the remaining nine will be placed throughout the city for public display.
This is my tribute to the 20 participating artists whose works now command top dollar across the globe, as well as to an art form powerful enough to permeate virtually every moment in our lives, from the ads and music videos we watch on TV to the products we wear and consume.
I am not, for the record, here as a graffiti artist. My style pales in comparison to people like Pink, Crash, and T-Kid. I am, however, here as a by-product of their sense of style and their truly unique aesthetic language, drawing influence from their work in every one of my business ventures and surrounding myself at night with their canvas, photographs, and sculptures.
I am well aware that drawing graffiti in public places is a crime, and I do not condone or encourage it. At the same time, however, graffiti is a legitimate and historical part of the great art history of our city. The visual dialect is alive and well, and contrary to the opinion of certain elected officials, just because you draw on paper that way doesn't mean that you are writing on walls. That is the dialect that these artists and others like them dream through, that informed their creative energy so early on and helped them to go on to become a muralist, a film maker, a story teller, and even a clothing designer.
We are, as we have for nearly 10 months, continuing our dialogue with the proper authorities to reach a mutually agreed upon means of hosting this event on August 24 as planned. I have retained legal counsel who will vigorously and zealously represent my First Amendment interests, and those of my fellow artists and the community at large. In the meantime, I will continue to focus on what promises to be an enjoyable day of free art and music for the city that is home to my operations and that so generously embraced our “Save the Rhinos” benefit concert in Central Park less than two months ago.
- Marc Ecko