September 24, 2016

Utah Graffiti Artists: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Utah’s Graffiti Artists Accept the Temporal Nature of Their Work

Most artists hope their art will stick around forever. Utah graffiti artists expect their work to be bulldozed, sandblasted or repainted.

The well-known, city-sanctioned “graffiti wall” outside the Korner Deli on Exchange Place is going to be a lot less interesting now that their lease has ended and the wall is painted over. “This is one of our walls we do for love,” said graffiti artist known as Kier, he added, “Oz (the owner of the Korner Deli) is a good friend. It was our wall. When I came up I was doing a lot of illegal work, that’s how I started. It’s not as heartbreaking as people would think it is. It’s kind of forced upon you. I definitely have an attachment, but it is what is. You just go onto the next project. There is always something to learn.”

utah graffiti

Graffiti Wall at Exchange Place

The two-story “blue face” mural remained for less than one year. “I was inspired: perfect weather, perfect people around, perfect music playing.” Kier added, “ But it was inevitable.” “My medium forces me to be outside, in the public eye.” Though Kier’s preferred medium has been spray paint over the last two decades he now sometimes works in oils. “I only took one art class. I haven’t done illegal stuff in a long time. It’s been almost ten years. Before that there was another ten years of illegal art.”

“There was definitely a huge rush you get that you don’t feel in anything else. Being out there at night is a completely different vibe. Now days when I paint at night and there’s no light and I am, like, how did I do this? I get lost now. You had to paint at night. You had to learn the hard way – just by trial and error, trial and error.”

Nearly a decade ago, while walking on the street with his friends, Kier was hit by a drunk driver. He had to have a hip replacement and now wears a brace and walks with a limp. While the accident ended his illegal graffiti work it did not end his passion for art or the graffiti artist.

“I have a lot of respect for someone who puts their name hanging off an overpass, risking their life and their freedom to express themselves that way, as dumb as it may be. People do need outlets. Sometimes some are riskier than others.”

Kier has lived in Costa Rico, San Francisco, Brooklyn and Eugene, Oregon. “Just traveling around I painted everywhere.” In the last year Kier has done more canvas pieces selling his work to private collectors he says are “friends of a friend. I don’t advertise. I guess having work on big walls is advertisement of its own.”

Kier produces smaller art now, up to a 4-by-6 foot canvas because that is what fits in his girlfriend’s car. It’s considerably smaller than the walls he used to spray and a step down from prodigious artwork the size of building sides, but, as just about any graffiti artist knows, it’s all temporary.