Thursday, May 27, 2010

A conversation with WANE TC5 / COD SPOTLIGHTING THE PAST...

Born in London WANE and his family moved to the Edenwald

section of the Bronx when he was 6 years old. He was introduced
to graffiti living only one block from the elevated #2 train and 7
stops from the end of the #2 line yard. Instantly the color and
energy of the artwork that was scrawled all over the city at the time
drew him in. He didn't know exactly what it was or who was doing
it, but he knew he wanted to be a part of it. Being so close to where
these ingenious artworks were created if there was a train that
caught his attention he'd wait on platform until it passed by again
so he could really soak it all in. After studying this visual language
that was all around he began to understand the bright colors,
shapes with letters and how to read it. Soon after he began to
recognize the names and start figuring how it was done he and his
older brother started writing. While most kids were in to sports,
WANE found himself looking to hip-hop, punk, freestyle and
graffiti. At this time they had a neighborhood crew and club house
(the Players) and all these things were part of it, everyone wanted
to have a tag or write but it was when they saw it on the trains
they realized it was serious.

Once he was old enough to ride the subway he started document
by taking pictures. At that time kids would take their pads and
pens after school and stand on the platforms, scribbling out what
they saw on the trains trying to emulate styles. WANE breaks it
down like this "Back then you had to do it traditionally, if you
didn't do a train you didn't get respect." In the beginning he says
it was scary, you’d hear the stories of police beating up writers,
rival crews robbing you for your spray paint and people getting
electrocuted on the third rail. It seemed like you had to be super
tough to do it. When you started writing you had to build heart,
get down with the crews
and once accepted by a crew you would
learn to steal can's, tag, do
throw up letters and wild-styles.
Getting chased and hiding in the dark waiting for the cops to leave
was all part of writing. As a writer/artist in NYC all these things
had to be accomplished as well getting your name up hundreds
and hundreds of times, but to get fame and be remembered
“you had to be good, really good.” Looking back WANE says it
took years to understand what it took to do it right, "...when I
look back at the writers that were older than me, I would never
forget them, because when they did it, they all did it without
having someone to show them. They pioneered this new art
form and created an entire renaissance doing so. That's one
of the main reasons principles you have to remember.
Every ‘ism,’ every arrow and letter form."

Since his first live experience of painting a subway he was
hooked, "that was it, it never ended, I always wanted to paint."
The city in the 80s was still showing remnants of the 1970s
writers and you didn't go over it as there was a heavy level of
respect. In the early nineties WANE made the transition from
trains to walls, and since then he has never stopped painting.
He has travelled the world, most recently to Brazil, documenting
it along the way. "Nowadays people know you have to document
your work, they know the brands (of paint), what types of caps for
what cans, it took years to understand." All of this was learned
during these formative years so the following generations could
survive the art using and building their knowledge. Now with the
dominance of the internet, you can see pretty much everything that’s
going on. Back then you had to be out there to see it.

WANE had some pretty cool things to say about Rooftop Legends,
"I think RTL is a great space for writers and street artists because
in NYC with the Police and all the new development in the city over
the past ten years there are very few legal places to paint.
It's phenomenal that EV (Jesse Pais - RTL's curator & NDHS Dean)
who's a writer and a part of the culture, saw the space and took the
time and energy to make it happen." He insists that although so many
of these artists are doing their own thing it is essential they have these
spaces to keep painting. He also adds that it's events like this that
continue to push the appreciation of the art-form within the
For years, he says, the politicians were telling everybody
that graffiti
wasn't art. They only focused on the idea of people going
over each other
and the negative aspects as being the core of what the
graffiti movement
was. It is the bringing together of artists from all
over the world, inspiring
each other, and just wanting to paint and
express themselves that makes
graffiti what it is. WANE insists that
"Rooftop Legends is a place that
gives graffiti art that outlet and helps
preserve it, come see for yourself!
Peace & Blessing, Wane One aka
the risk taker.”

Words and image: S.LESTER