Can they kick it?
Museum of Graffiti paints Austin for the 50th anniversary of hip hop
Hip hop is about a lot more than beats, and despite the persistence of legend within the genre, it’s under-canonized in official collections. Miami’s Museum of Graffiti addresses that gap, calling itself “the world’s first Museum dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of graffiti art.” Austin will get to see the unique collection from March 10-28 at a pop-up to celebrate the 50th “anniversary” of the genre.
A grand opening during the weekend of March 10-12 coincides with the opening weekend of South by Southwest (although there does not seem to be an official relationship between the two). The festivities will include music programming, live art, fashion, complimentary drinks, panel discussions, and more.
“Many people around the world are celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip hop by placing an exclusive emphasis on the music,” said curator and co-founder Alan Ket. “However, hip hop is a movement with great cultural contributors across many creative disciplines, including graffiti. From Joe Conzo who photographed the early Bronx jams to Cey Adams who art directed many of the world’s biggest records including Public Enemy and The Notorious B.I.G.; There is no better time to celebrate their genius than in Austin during one of the largest annual cultural events in America.”
All this will be housed in one of the nondescript 6th Street buildings bordering I-35 (809 E 6th Street). West Chelsea Contemporary, a local gallery in Austin, plans to spruce up the walls on the building’s busier side in collaboration with Austin graffiti artist Sloke One and Los Angeles graffiti pioneer Risk (stylized RISK), in murals that will be painted live starting on February 25. Both have works at the gallery, separately from the museum’s arrival.
The main draw, an exhibition called “The Art of Hip Hop,” organizes photographs, album covers, logos, graffiti works, and any other important work by the creators responsible for the “visual identity of the genre.” Images of the home collection include works as diverse as skateboards, album art, archived tags (signatures), and more abstract collaborative experiments.
The museum also draws attention to its gift shop — arguably cooler than that of most classical collections — and gives visitors an opportunity to purchase original paintings made as long as 50 years ago.
The museum organizes its non-exhibit programming around the universally accepted “five pillars of hip hop”: MC’ing (lyricism), DJing, breakdancing (b-boying), graffiti, knowledge of the genre and its cultural context. Classes will touch on each pillar; There is no current schedule to reference, but weekly classes in Miami teach beginners how to use a spray can and kids how to draw in a street style.
Tickets ($12) to the Museum of Graffiti pop-up are available now at museumofgraffiti.com. Opening weekend will welcome guests ages 21 and older, but the remainder of the pop-up, including all workshops, are available to all ages.