'Writing for fame to be known amongst the unknown" is a phrase coined by graffiti artists to express why they risk incarceration for a few minutes of visionary expression with a can …
'Writing for fame to be known amongst the unknown" is a phrase coined by graffiti artists to express why they risk incarceration for a few minutes of visionary expression with a can of aerosol paint.
The Taos artist known as Scripture, curator and partner of the massive art space Vagrant Heart, said he immersed himself as a teenager in underground "graffiti crews" tagging in public spaces often one step ahead of the law or infringing on dangerous gang turf marking their boundaries. "My vandalism days ended with incarceration," he said.
He said he was first arrested at age 15. "The owner of the building I defaced suggested to the judge I be taken outside and shot - I can still hear the judge laugh. It was then I realized where I stood in society. When I see tagging, I see expression."
Scripture grew up in Taos, "on wood heat, an outhouse and no TV. My father [Dow Heaton] is a master of the arts in pen and ink, carving, jewelry - you name it, he did it. So, I spent a lot of time drawing. Color was the hardest part for me so painting came later."
He said his first recollection of mural painting was George Chacón's "The Santero" on Cabot Plaza at the Taos Plaza stoplight. "It has always spoken and inspired me to create art at a larger scale. When I met him at a public dialogue on street art, hosted by the Harwood Museum, he told me he was a fan of mine and I was honored. What I like about his mural is the size, subject and technique. The story it tells me is one of gratitude for culture and tradition."
Scripture's new mural, currently evolving on a corrugated metal building next door to Vagrant Heart Gallery, at 216 Paseo del Cañon East, is a stunning display of spray-painted imagery.
The inspiration for the mural "began as a challenge, not just the large size. The surface is corrugated metal, which is an extremely hard surface to work on."
He added, "The building faces Vista Grande High School. It was fun to give the students something cool to look at. It wasn't the prettiest building, but we could see its potential."
The work took eight days to finish, and for him represents "a desperate attempt to create beautiful scenery in what I see as a world gone mad. It is unseen beauty. It lives in all walls, paper, canvases and people." Scripture said he paints with "the cheapest acrylics I can find. My latest mural was done 100 percent in spray cans. The first I've done in that medium."
The name "Scripture" derived from his best friend of over 20 years, Sabian Jordan, who passed away from a drug overdose. "We were both raised in the church and always talked about starting a clothing line, mainly T-shirts, and we were trying to come up with a name from a good [Bible] scripture. That's when he said, 'What about Scripture Gear?' My father has always been a preacher, and my mom [Dede Heaton] ran a Christian preschool for 30 years, so the name fit."
Scripture said his gallery name, Vagrant Heart, "comes from identifying with the outsider and drifter in a landscape-painters town. An artist like myself can be seen, [and respected] in the same way. I have found my art and strength in the struggle, I believe that is where God exists, amongst the outcasts, incarcerated, rebels and addicts. We want to provide a place for anyone feeling the pressure to come express themselves in an accepting environment. For me, there is no separation from one's heart and their art."
The artist revealed it took years for him to embrace the sobriety he knows today after "hitting many rock bottoms, losing friends to addictions" and knowing the cycle of addiction himself. Five years from now he wants to be "alive, breathing clean air, drinking clean water and with my family. But no man is promised tomorrow. Save some for the next generation, please."
Something he said he hopes what people will take away from seeing his mural is "upliftment, a simple smile or inspiration. Graffiti is a natural instinct. You give a kid a crayon and the next thing the kid does is draw on the walls. The first depictions of man are found on the walls of caves. It's a natural instinct to draw on something large."
Next on Scripture's to-do list is Vagrant Heart's big one-year anniversary celebration on May 4. For more, visit ww.vagranthearttaos.com.
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