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Recent Works, 1994

John Matos (aka "Crash") is a famous post-Graffiti artist. He was born in Bronx, New York, October 11, 1961. He first started doing graffiti murals at the age of 13. He used to carry Krylon spray paints in his bag and went train hopping on school nights.1 He was first noticed because of his spray-paint murals on subway cars and derelict buildings.

By the early 1980s, Crash already had his first exhibition at the Sidney Janis Gallery in 1983 which was given to him by Sidney Janis himself.2 Years later, in 1996, he painted an Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster and gave it to him as a gift. Clapton used it on a several of his tours. Crash painted five guitars for Clapton in total but he only used three in public. One of those guitars was auctioned for $321,000 in 2004. Later on, Fender Musical Instruments wanted Crash to do 50 more guitars and they named the line "Crashocasters". Another artist who has used a Crashocaster guitar is John Mayer.3

Chris Ellis (aka "Daze") started his career as a graffiti writer in 1977 while he was still a student at the High School of Art and Design. He used the name "Daze" because he wanted a pen name with the letters "E" and "Z" in it since not a lot of writers use those letters. Daze tends to use big, open surfaces as his media. At times, he would paint an entire subway car, "developing images in the fields and volumes it offered". His signature style is the letters "bounding together, one inside the other" to create a three dimensional feel and depth.4

This six panel mural is referred to as "Crash/Daze, Recent Works" and it was done in 1994.5 There are intriguing questions about this mural. Did the artists come to York College with pre-made panels that each had painted separately? Did they work together on the panels at the Performing Arts Center? The torn ticket stub in the upper right panel identifies Saturday, August 6 as a performance date. August 6 fell on a Saturday in 1994.6

Even though both Crash and Daze are considered post-graffiti artists, their styles are still a bit different. Crash's style has a bit of abstract feel to it, while Daze's style has a bit of surrealistic feel to it. Based on this, we can make pretty good guesses about who did which panel. For instance, the top left and the top right panels were most likely done by Crash. The mid left and the mid right panels were most likely done by Daze. The bottom left and the bottom right panels were most likely done by Crash.

The mural is an explosion of colors. Its enormous size only enhances the colors and its impressive and abundant details. Each panel can be interpreted on its own, but put together, the six panels tell a whole different story. For instance, on the top left panel, the left side of the face can be interpreted as eyes being the window to someone's soul; the man passing by the clock can be interpreted as someone who's living life without passion, etc. However, the whole mural itself represents the many sides of art; the dynamic of art; art with its many ever changing elements; etc. The Performing Arts Center is the hot spot for artistic happenings in the school and it was probably where Crash and Daze had an exhibition. That's why it's only fit and relevant to be placed there.

by Dinar Wibowo

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  1. Details from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/25/arts/design/25loos.html
  2. Information about John Matos' early exhibitions from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_matos
  3. Details about the Crashocasters, Eric Clapton, and John Mayer from http://www.modernguitars.com/archives/003154.html
  4. Biographical and stylistic information about Chris Ellis taken from http://www.penplace.com/chrisdazeellis.html
  5. Information about "Recent Works" found at http://www.imeem.com/crashone/ and http://www.speerstra.net/artists/crash/crashbio_fr.htm
  6. Research on "Recent Works" raises questions about the joint nature of the exhibition at York College. See, for example, Daze's biographical information at http://www.karolynsherwoodgallery.com/img/artists/Daze/daze_bio.htm

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This project was completed in Spring 2008 by students in English 384, Writing for Electronic Media.