Renowned graffiti artists APEX and NEON teamed up to create a massive and striking mural on Schack Art Center’s south wall this June. It’s a stunning example of the visual magic of street art at a grand scale, with a variety of edgy and abstract shapes building upon each other to create an exciting view from any angle.
Praised for his vibrant spray painted murals made all over the world, ‘The Apexer’ Ricardo Richey, also known as APEX, draws inspiration from street art and Chinese calligraphy to create trippy, 3-D patterns and surreal visuals. Teaming up with him was NEON, a famous name in San Francisco’s long legacy of graffiti artists who was part of an explosive movement of graffiti art throughout the Bay Area in the 80s. Combining their styles, the mural’s energetic and eye-catching character is an invitation to step inside and see the world of art on display in Schack Art Center’s exhibits.
The collaborative mural displays how much movement and energy can be created when the canvas is large enough for the vision. NEON described in a 2014 video with KQED Art School how the choice of surface medium influences the style of graffiti art. Train cars and tunnels encourage a bold and distinguished style which can be read on a fast moving surface, while a static wall invites the artist to create energy and movement in every aspect of their piece. APEX and NEON are masters of putting abundant personality into a single shape or form, and the energetic character of this piece pops out before your eyes.
Like many of the graffiti artists featured in the American Graffiti exhibit, APEX and NEON are among pioneers of the piece, a term from the world of street art that refers to a detailed colored mural of a moniker or the artist’s name. They’re more detailed and less common than tags or one-liners, and the extra time spent on them attests to the intrepid character of the artists who undertook the risk of writing on a surface that was not their own. The new mural at Schack shows what can be done when artists are recognized and allowed to express their powerful creative spirit unrestrained.
On Aug. 1, Schack Art Center released their short film American Graffiti: From the Streets to Canvas, giving viewers the opportunity to meet the artists behind some of the awesome pieces on display at Schack. The trailer features APEX and NEON sketching out and designing their mural, and playing off each other’s talent as they filled it in with intense color and exciting forms.
Spurned along by hip-hop graffiti crews like the Reckless Writers, early piecing artists like Cuba, Fresh, Razor, Heist and Giggs grew the graffiti movement and affixed their own California flavor to the existing styles originating from New York. Among those to join the movement, APEX and NEON would be especially prolific, creating hundreds of dynamic pieces across the nation.
Both artists contributed to Schack Art Center’s American Graffiti exhibit, which included more than 60 large pieces of stand-out art recreated by some of the most renowned graffiti artists in the US. The mural is an exemplary example of the work on display at Schack this summer, and had visitors excited for the history and culture of American graffiti.
Schack Art Center, 2921 Hoyt Ave., Everett, WA 98201
Special thanks to Josh Jones and Schack Art Center for the photos featured in this article.
Story by Jared Doolittle, City of Everett intern