After showing his artwork for more than a decade in the Indianapolis area, graffiti artist Samuel E. Vázquez says his reign is coming to an end.
Although Vázquez is not leaving Indianapolis, he is having his last solo exhibition. The show will run Dec. 4 through Jan. 3 at the IUPUI Cultural Arts Gallery.
Vázquez first became involved with graffiti or writing, as the form is also known, in the late 1970s.
"I arrived in New York City in 1979 and was taken by the energy, motion and rhythm of writing. I was also amazed at the scale in size of the larger masterpieces," says Vázquez.
After he was introduced to the artwork, he was hooked. Vázquez started "writing" heavily in 1983, and by the late 1980s he became a member of numerous graffiti crews, including Urban Warriors, International Bombing Squad, Rock Those Rails/Ready to Rock, Ready for Action and Born to Fight.
Over the past 10 years, Vázquez has been in a transition stage. He returned to painting and graffiti, which brought him back to his roots and passions. And eventually he began to lecture about the background and history of graffiti, and recently introduced the historic New York City graffiti documentary Style Wars at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and did a presentation about the art of tagging at Clowes Memorial Hall.
"I wasn't much involved in the graffiti scene once I moved to Indianapolis, but in the mid- to late-2000s I reconnected with graffiti writers I grew up with and slowly got back to writing and sharing the history and roots of writing," Vázquez says.
Graffiti is usually perceived in a negative manner, but real graffiti writers will tell you it's not about vandalism. Vázquez explains that writers put in countless hours working on developing their skills. Years of dedication go into emerging their style and message.
"It is a way for me to express myself and communicate with the community of writers, especially those of the New York City subway graffiti era," Vázquez says.
Just because Vázquez is done showing his artwork in the Indianapolis area doesn't mean he is finished with graffiti for good. After his final solo and then group exhibition here, Vázquez will have a solo one in Marion, Ind. and then two others in New York City in 2014.
"I am now focusing on national and international exhibitions," Vázquez says.
Despite this being his last in Indy, Vázquez says he did not put too much extra thought into it. He did acknowledge, though, that this one is more meaningful to him.
"My last gallery exhibition in Indianapolis is not really thematic, but it continues exploring my interaction with graffiti. I titled it 'Our Romance Cannot Last' before I made the decision not to exhibit anymore in Indianapolis. That title now makes clear sense to me, in so many levels. You will have to attend the exhibition to get the full picture," Vázquez says.
Vázquez is excited about the future even though he's unsure just what his future holds. He is open to opportunities to share his work with other audiences, but his main goal is to continue creating, educating and growing.
"I believe that everyone has a God-given talent which fulfills our purpose and enriches others," Vázquez says. "Everything I am and do is because my life has been enriched by God's saving grace through my savior Jesus Christ."