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Denton graffiti is transforming into modern art

Denton graffiti is transforming into modern art

Denton graffiti is transforming into modern art
June 20
23:22 2017

Aside from the range coffee shops, thrift stores and craft beers, Denton wouldn’t be Denton without the numerous graffiti-covered-walls and large-scale murals lining the buildings throughout the city.

While some might argue against graffiti, it is much more than just spray paint and blank walls for local artists.

“I think graffiti and street art are very powerful ways to make art [because] the interaction it has with the public is huge,” drawing and painting junior Malcolm Byers, 20, said.

Although Byers has only lived in Denton for a little over a year now, Byers has already made a name for himself as one of Denton’s major street artists.

“There is generally a negative bias toward street art and graffiti,” Byers said. “I think there is a lot of beauty between these lines.”

The Amarillo, Texas native strives for his work to be extremely observational, disciplined and accurate.

This sense of perfectionism can be seen in one of his most popular murals, located on Hickory and Fry Street. The mural has gained the attention of locals for his keen attention to detail while using spray paint on the large-scale piece.

“Most of my subjects are female, because a lot of women have been very inspirational in my life,” Byers said. “I find female subjects to be very loving, kind and delicate – which imitates my passion for drawing.”

Byers, who is also passionate about keeping traditional artwork relevant, also works with graphite and colored pencils.

The artist picked up spray painting over a year ago and said he is absolutely in love with the collaboration between traditional art and graffiti.

“I think the medium of spray paint is a very progressive art form, and it will find its way into art history text books in the future.” Byers said. “The way cultures use graffiti to make their own statement is really important.”

Unlike Byers, 30-year-old local artist and Dentonite Matthew Long thinks otherwise.

Graffiti located in Denton. Alec Spicer

“The difference between public art and street graffiti is pretty much whether it was ‘okayed’ or not – it doesn’t have anything to do with its value,” Long said. “I never did much street graffiti, [and] I understand people have a negative taste for graffiti. I  just like seeing art and expression everywhere.”

The popular artist, who believes strongly in taking in one’s existence and finding inner bliss, said he loves being a part of Denton’s ever growing art scene.

“I’m proud of what we have, [but] I can always see it bigger and more inclusive,” Long said. “If people wanted to ‘solve’ graffiti, they should recognize developing talent, and employ those kids – show them that they have abilities that we value as a community instead of taking away their paints.”

Long is known for his lettering, design work and murals around town.

Some of his most popular pieces are featured at Aura Coffee, LSA Burger, East Side Social Club, Paschall Bar and the Greater Denton Arts Council.

“I guess I have a pretty traditional illustrative style right now – but it could change any time,” Long said. “I just try to keep a brush in my hand and a developing thought in my mind.”

Long said that his biggest goal when painting public art is clarity of thought and communication.

“When I design and paint signs, I want to represent the environment and character of that business, organization, or place.” Long said. “I keep it simple so that people can absorb it through the quick moments in life, but take time with it if they choose to.”

For UNT alumni and local artist Gracie Piper, graffiti is something she observes from an inside-out perspective.

“My work mostly consists of smaller scale drawings, and watercolor paintings, so I actually don’t have a lot of experience in the world of murals,” Piper said.

Piper, who has two bachelors of fine arts in Studio Art and Visual Art Studies, mainly works with watercolor and pen and paper.

As a 27-year-old Christian, female artist and new mother, Piper said her work aims to speak to her beliefs and thoughts, and parts of her identity.

“My focus varies depending on what I feel the pull to express or make visible,” Piper said. “People, spirituality, character and storytelling – symbolism though shape and color.”

Piper’s work can be seen all throughout Denton social media, as her signature “line people” represent familiar faces and strangers she comes across.

Her latest work is displayed in LSA on the second floor, and she said she is currently working on a stop-motion personal project.

While graffiti can still be seen as a controversial topic, Piper said it’s important to celebrate artists’ various forms of expressions, especially when considering Denton’s overall love of the arts.

“Historically, people have seemed to really cling to rules and control, giving them a say in what art is ‘acceptable’ and what is not,” Piper said. “Fortunately, people have been challenging these ideas for some time now, and it seems views of this work are expanding to a more accepting and celebratory place.”

Featured Image: One of Malcolm Byers’ works in Denton on Hickory Street. Most of Byers’ inspiration comes from women because they have been influential on his life. Alec Spicer

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Nina Quatrino

Nina Quatrino

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1 Comment

  1. Kim
    Kim June 26, 22:49

    The art murals on the back of Aura Coffee were commissioned and paid for by the owner of the building. They are not graffitti done by vandals in the night.

    Reply to this comment

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