Artists contribute to Emerge: Austin’s Annual Graffiti Art Show

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Rachel Koper and Nathan Nordstrom curated the art for this year’s Emerge: ATX’s Annual Graffiti Art Show presentation. Nordstrom has been spray paint- ing graffiti since the 1990s, and the wall behind him is one that he repaints every few months with new images.
Photo Credit: Chase Karacostas | Daily Texan Staff

Meticulously sculpting the letters, adding line work and focusing on small details, McAllen-based graffiti artist News mixes the traditional with the funky when creating his art.

“If we’re stressed out about something or if we’re feeling down and out, [graffiti] is a good therapy to get everything out,” News said. “Holding the can, the texture of the wall, everything plays a part, so you just let all of that soak into you.” 

News, along with Wake Jones and 12 other artists, will be featured at Emerge: ATX’s Annual Graffiti Art Show, presented by Art Seen Alliance in association with musicNmind on Nov. 5 at The Gatsby. The art show is curated and organized by Rachel Koper and Nathan Nordstrom and will showcase existing art pieces as well as live graffiti performances. 

“One thing we’ve always tried to do in Emerge is put a little bit of a spotlight on emerging new artists the community and public had never heard of,” Nordstrom said. 

The show is helpful for artists like News because it lets them meet other artists in the graffiti community.

“It always feels great to be involved in the Texas graffiti scene, because in its own way, graffiti is kind of competitive, so I get to see what everybody is doing,” News said. “I get to see the people that I look up [to] and see what they are [producing].”

Fellow graffiti artist Wake Jones said one of the reasons he likes working with the community is that attendees will be able to see all kinds of graffiti styles. 

“We are kind of the people who have always done our own thing,” Wake Jones said. “We don’t really follow the trends that get popular in art. That way, each person is kind of their own niche.”

When Wake Jones — whose art is inspired by nature, urban culture and the city itself — first started doing graffiti, it wasn’t as mainstream as it is now. He said it was an underground form of art, almost vigilante in nature. 

“The cool part about it is it’s not really censored, so I’ve always looked at it as a very open way for people to express themselves without having the confines of normal taboos and galleries,” Wake Jones said. “You see these really large-scale murals that took a lot of time and effort, and it’s just really cool that people would do that on their own without being paid for it.”

Wake Jones said it’s an awesome experience when he’s around people who watch him work. At gallery shows, he has met several people who were influenced by his art, and he said there are a handful who were better graffiti artists than he is.

“It’s really humbling to see that something you did inspired somebody else to go on and take it even further,” Wake Jones said. 

Although people have grown to appreciate his work as art, that wasn’t always the case. Wake Jones started doing graffiti in the early ’90s, when the art form was frequently labeled as gang-related. Now, he said, graffiti has become more respected in the eyes of the public.  

“I really want to voice that [graffiti] is not what people make it out to be,” Wake Jones said. “I like that [graffiti] has come to a point where more people are getting paid to do it and it’s recognized as a form of art. There’s a future in it.”