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TTK: Aerosol Art 

TTKs are Sky Blue Window's 'Things to Know,' events, ideas and cultural creations that we think are worthy of your time and attention.

In the early 1980's, teenagers left their mark on trains, bridges and dark underground transit tunnels with graffiti. Their efforts were lauded by some art insiders as a new wave of democratic expression, but plenty of parents, police and community leaders considered it vandalism. New York Mayor Ed Koch compared their tags - stylized, spray-painted letters and illustrations - to crimes like pick-pocketing, shoplifting and three-card monte.

click to enlarge ttk_2.jpg

While those debates linger, their influence have echoed for decades - in the hip hop culture that taggers helped create, among artists including Banksy, Shepard Fairey and Barry "Twist" McGee, and in fiction including Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude (click through for an excerpt that includes one character's foray into graffiti).

This Friday, you can view the 1983 Sundance Award winning documentary Style Wars at the Indianapolis Museum of Art's Final Friday at the Toby. Style Wars explores subway graffiti and street culture in the early 1980's and features young "writers", breakdancers and Grandmaster Flash on heavy rotation. Graffiti artist and painter Brame UW (Samuel E Vázquez) will introduce the film and provide a graffiti demonstration after the screening.

For further graffiti exploration:

The documentary Beautiful Losers includes many late-1990's and early-2000's artists that incorporated street art influences into their work.

Check out some of the highly literary examples of street art.

Follow the arrows around an infographic on the history of graffiti and street art from Pantheon.

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About The Author

Kirsten Eamon-Shine

Kirsten Eamon-Shine

Kirsten has written for a number of online outlets, a handful of nonprofits and a mighty little food truck. She was raised by a writer-photographer-editor and an engineer, both lovers of museums and books. In her spare time, she dances to vinyl records with her husband, son and two cats.

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