I shot an art opening recently for an article about street artists having shows in mainstream galleries for the San Francisco Chronicle. One of the artist featured in the story was an Oakland based graffiti kid that goes by the tag “Swampy” and is known for his large signature skull with tusks pieces that I’ve been noticing a lot around the East Bay. His one night solo show entitled “In My Room” was at Fifty24SF gallery in San Francisco’s Lower Haight on June 11th. When you walked into the gallery there were 3 large paintings and about 8 photos on the walls, kind of a small show, but you could hear this distorted music coming from behind the back wall and if you lifted one of the paintings there was a hole cut in the drywall that opened into the secret “In My Room” section of the installation. This room was an overflowing mess of creativity and stood in stark contrast to the white walled front gallery. Swampy had lived in the back room for about a week, as evident by the mattress in one corner, preparing for the show. Plastering the walls from floor to ceiling and littering the floor were paintings, drawings, graffiti, photos, collages, re-purposed signs, found objects, empty bottles, spray cans, piles of clothes, cassette tapes, you name it, plus a weird mix of manipulated music played from behind a stack of paint cans in the corner to complete the squatter-esque ambiance. The concept was pretty cool and, before it got crowded it was fun watching people figure out how the show worked. You can read the article at the Chronicle’s site here: San Francisco Chronicle
Swampy poses for a portrait with his back to the camera. Due to the illegal nature of most of his work, he wants to remain anonymous.
A Swampy piece on a roof in West Oakland that I saw from the BART train as I was on my way to the gallery.