Interview with Hex TGO
How long have you been doin’ graffiti?
First, i would like to say that I’ll take: tres de lengua, dos de asada y dos de cabeza. Con mucho chile.
I was introduced to L.A. style placazo and letra graffiti in a daycare center when my father worked in downtown garment district and my mom in a taco truck, like you, to pay the bills. These were the mid 1970’s. The streets had territorial bounds, and some of the counselors in the day care center were from Bell Gardens locos. There was a vet from King Kobras named casper that lived across from us on Gotham Street. That also hand solid handstyles. East L.A., Brooklyn Ave., Maravilla area was where I first used a can, I was just a kid. When the 1980’s hit, my uncles came from Chicago and the eastcoast. Photos of New York, transit subways and train graffiti was unbelievable. I started attempting this big letters, characters and wildstyles on walls and wood panels in 1982. We lived close to the train tracks and factories were my first canvases. (rabanitos tambien por favor.)
What have you been up too since your return into the scene?
I never left the scene. I just stopped hitting up for myself publicly. After my brother SK8 from CBS died, I had to truly make changes in order to make a real difference in lives, not just pump up my views and crews. Since then, I worked 18 years straight as a crisis counselor and art teacher to kids from every juvenile hall and placement center in the city of Los Angeles. Minors from every race and every gang imaginable. I taught them ethics, self respect and vision – how to look at the vastness of the world and your part in it, not just your hood and rattrap restrictions. “Graffiti-reversals” is where I took their graffiti, scrawls, and drawings, whatever it may be, and channeled it to learning about the power of discipline, visual communication, murals and personal life-changing messages. I ended up with a major stroke 3 years ago that left half of my body temporarily paralyzed. After revisiting the emergency wards 5 more times, i decided to start painting the streets again, for my own recovery and healing as well as for my people and culture. My burners are my voice.
Tell our LATACO readers about the youth program you were/are associated with, ARTernatives.
Arternatives.org, look for yourself. The programs I designed are directly linked to ward-of-the-court minors in present custody (DPO) or Department of Children Family Services (DCFS) junior high and high school level adolescents. I love children and I can envision their futures as adults that make a difference in their own family units, in our society and in the world.
What was the reason to have this show?
Skill and I have been friends since we were teenagers. We ran the streets, painted, read, rapped, and ran the hip hop shop as brothers. This show is a simple exhibition of our journey, lessons and adventures, transforming from L.A. B-Boys to becoming men.
Your names were coming up here and there in the streets. Folks were saying new pieces were popping in LA like bread crumbs. Was that build up for this show?
What you call breadcrumbs, to some were a panaderia full of empanadas, tamales, churros and champurado. We love our people.
We care for our streets and youth, this is a way to say something that matters, it always has been. Since my strokes, i have painted in South Central, Compton, Paramount, La Habra, East Los Evergreen, Downtown L.A., Lincoln Heights, Wilmington, Long Beach, etc. Mainly the sections of the city where I grew up in. I also painted in New Jersey, Seattle, Atlanta, Phoenix, San Diego and other cities. Skill has rocked the San Francisco / Oakland Bay Area, Los Angeles, Watts, Hollywood, even Mexicali with many other writers. We do what we do because it is in our chests like fire. Not for galleries, recognition or fame.
What’s the biggest misconception about your work that people have?
Hmmm. Not Sure. I truly am not swayed or persuaded by people persnippity opinions, especially in communicating truth, injustices and human reflections.
If you could take something from HEX creatively, what would it be?
My characters, spraycan techniques, use of line variables and letter styles have influenced writers all over the world since before the Rodney King Riots, I appreciate this and love making a difference. They have also been straight bitten by animators, comic book artists and folks that have nothing to do with our culture. It’s amusing when I see another source that has spawned from our creative aesthetics, whether they actually recognize it or not. The best is yet to come.
Hows the LA graffiti scene doing in your opinion? What do you like or do not like about it.
I am excited to see the new methods, color schemes and techniques that have evolved since the 1980’s and 90’s foundations. I respect the work from many newer writers as well as the classic old school graf-family. Some of the paint is also amazing. Other new clog cans drive writers nuts and end up being slung across the tracks. My personal motto is “L.A. don’t play”. I believe my city will continue to produce some of the best work in the world.
What is your opinion of the “street art” movement as of recent years in LA?
Even before the post vietnam era, Los Angeles has always been a place for innovators in public protests, street advertisements and unconventional forms of non-commercialized communications.. As a kid I would see shadows of men painted all through downtown L.A. with statements like “Lost Angeles”, “oh to help the homeless how we mourn for strength”, etc. These were done by Joey Kreps, the street phantom, I believe some of the earliest forms of street art could be found everywhere in L.A., bus benches, walls and even over neighborhoods. My brothers Krenz and Dunze from AM7 were the earliest billboard manipulators I met. They would rock right over things that were imposed on our people by unethical merchants and ad agencies. Street art is a diametrically opposed balance to this.
After the show, what should our L.A. TACO readers be looking for from you? Any projects in works?
PER FX Crew from the Bronx wants to link up and paint together, there are several writers coast to coast and internationally that I also respect and will be producing burners with. By God’s grace, my brother Skill and I will continue to bust and stand up for what is right. Jesus Christ of Nazareth made all the difference in the world to us, at the lowest points of our lives, we appreciate this and will continue our expressive efforts.
We have a trip to Chicago coming up in September. I will be working as a teacher at the hip hop school of arts with Little Cesar from the original Radiotron Airforce Crew, taking care of my friends and family, and producing various fresh projects including a graff track on the upcoming grand official album. The main thing I have to do right now though, is push ups and hardcore rocky sit-ups from all these crazy L.A. tacos i just ate. Paz.
BBoys to BMen – Closing Reception
September 29th 7-10pm
110 Winston Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013