In a recent issue, Joyce Orobello's “Tats Cru, 20 Years of Art in the Bronx” describes three Bronx teens who formed what might be dubbed a “tag team”—a group of graffiti artists. “We were going to work 9-5, take a shower, then we would paint from like six 'til four in the morning, get an hour, two hours sleep, then repeat it.” The best way to stem the tide of graffiti, it turns out, is not to paint over it, but to allow a really good piece of work to remain. Then no taggers want to touch it, which contributes to the fact that, 20 years down the road, Tats Cru Inc. is an advertising firm employed by companies like Coca-Cola that still manages to stay connected to the underground art scene. Included in Orobello's article are photographs by Jarret Stretch of some of their dramatic and colorful wall-side murals.
Craig Blair's “Surrealism Thrives” encapsulates the story of the exciting art movement started by a group of writers in the '20s, most frequently associated with the paintings of Salvador Dalí. Led by poet Andre Breton, surrealism was a backlash against what some see as the sterile and dehumanizing qualities of rationalism. While the first wave of surrealists in Western Europe would be scattered by the Nazi invasion, they scattered not unlike seeds, and the art movement sometimes defined as “pure thought” may actually be more pervasive today then it was before, proliferating on the Web in particular.
Arthur Stamoulis's article “Art Against Empire” is about the Beehive Collective, a group that creates colorable images of, among other things, anthropomorphised ants, in black and white. The complex ant scenarios provoke thought about social issues in an entertaining visual format, which can be copied and distributed by activists all over the country.
The issue also includes an article on the harrowing adventures, successes and challenges faced by the growing activist movement called Anti-Racist Action. The “Politics” section of the issue presents a short piece on skilled political cartoonist Richard Mock, whose highly detailed pen and ink drawings once graced the pages of the New York Times. Mock's illustrations continue to appear in such publications as Alternative Press Review and The Fifth Estate. Finally, a short piece documents how the Wisconsin cartoonist team of Dave Crosland and Debbie had a good thing going until their employer requested war-like artwork in the wake of 9-11.
Jen Angel and Jason Kucsma's Clamor is chock full of inspiring and informative articles about socially conscious bands, visual artists and others who make courage a habit by regularly getting off their creative, intellectual and moral duffs.