Graffiti Rules, But Is It Art? Rider University symposium will study this long-debated question

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Should graffiti be recognized as legitimate art, or is it simply vandalism, worthy of prosecution? This question, almost as old as spray paint itself, will be discussed during a symposium entitled Graffiti Rules, But Is It Art? on Thursday, December 3, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Rider University Art Gallery, inside the Bart Luedeke Center. Graffiti Rules is sponsored by Rider’s Fine Arts and Sociology departments, and the Baccalaureate Honors Program.

Panelists will include noted Trenton-based photographer Jon Naar, whose vivid images of New York City graffiti artists became the basis for his acclaimed 1974 book The Faith of Graffiti (Watching My Name Go By), with an introduction by Norman Mailer, and, more recently, 2007’s The Birth of Graffiti. Naar will be joined by Will “Kasso” Condry, one of the “graffiti kids” Naar immortalized on film, as well as Anthony “Butler” Cordero, the New York City policeman who was the street artist’s frequent foil.

Special guests include Philadelphia native Darryl McCray, or “Cornbread,” and Dezo TC-5. Regarded as the father of modern graffiti, Cornbread began his art in 1967 and, among his many street-art exploits, is most noted for tagging the side of the Jackson 5’s private jet, as well as an elephant in the Philadelphia Zoo. Dezo, of the famed TC-5 crew and who has been “writing” since 1979, grew up in Asbury Park, N.J., and became enthralled by graffiti on the passing trains when visiting his brother in the South Bronx. Still engaged in street art, Dezo earned a master’s degree in Fine Arts from The College of New Jersey and does design work for a Rhode Island-based clothing company.

Graffiti Rules, But Is It Art? will be moderated by Harry I Naar, professor of Fine Arts and director of the Rider University Art Gallery, and Dr. James Dickinson, professor of Sociology at Rider. Funding for the event is generously provided by Rider’s College of Liberal Arts, Education, and Sciences, the Westminster Choir College, the Office of the Provost and the Department of Sociology.

For more information about the event, please contact James Dickinson at 609-896-5000, ext. 5464.

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A graffiti artist works on a piece of modern graffiti.