Summary by Michael Schwartz
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Bevery Hills, CA
- It's near midnight on Rodeo Drive, one of the most famous and elegant streets in the world. A small group of graffiti bandits and taggers apply their trade on the construction frontage of a world-famous design shop. Vandalsim? Graffiti? Hardly. The work is a commissioned piece and the "vandals" are all are former graffiti outlaws who have pooled their talents to from ICU -- In Creative Unity, a mobile artists colony that creates wonderous spray paint murals for business and communities.
In Creative Unity is the brain child of Stash Maleski, a former graffit outlaw himself. The group was formed a year after the L.A. riots as a collaborative focal point for artists, curators and organizations dedicated to bringing graffiti art to a new level.
The mural on Rodeo Drive was commissioned by a famous retailer. ICU was recommended to the client by the Beverly Hills Arts Commission who have lavished high praise on ICU's work. The art must work late at night when the shops are closed; but traffic on onlookers still stream by.
ICU artists conceived the concept, sketched the design, and executed the work. They use refined and modified versions of standard spray paint cans. By using special techniques these skilled artisans show their true talents, and stay away from trouble.
VYAL started tagging at age 13, and then graduated to more advanced forms of graffiti art. The life of an outlaw graffiti artist is not an easy one. In addition to the ever-present threat of arrest there are also the hazards of stepping on the toes of other taggers as well as the gangs which protect their turf, and their graffiiti spots, to the death. VYAL: "I never imagined I'd ever being doing murals on Rodeo Drive!"
ICU artist Mear began his career in the 9th grade. He sees ICU as a way to legitimze his artistic passion, and to be able to work with and learn from other artists. "ICU has brought creative, diverse individuals together. On your own, you lose insprination, in a group its a good thing; you do better work, ICUmakes us stirve harder instead of being used to the norm," says Mear
ICU focuses on construction murals to raise money. The money is used to fund exhibitions for displaying the individual members as well as the group's art. ICU plans to have exhibitions coming in Los Angeles, as well as exhibitions in Europe and Japan.