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The Art Of Graffiti Coming To Hamptons-Based Gallery In One-Of-A-Kind Exhibition

Sydney A. Braat

Artist TAG overseas at King Pin Wall in 1991. (Courtesy Photo)

Up from the Underground, a graffiti exhibit, is coming to the White Room Gallery from Wednesday, October 4 through Sunday, October 22. The Opening Reception will take place on Saturday, October 7 from 6 to 9 p.m., with a special live graffiti show with the featured artists, V.P. Dedaj - aka VIC 161 - and Domenick S. Vetro - aka TAG- who will use a piece of 8'x16' wooden canvas to create a one-of-a-kind work right before your eyes.

"Graffiti is an art form that is ever evolving because the artists continue to push the boundaries," said Kat O'Neill, co-director and partner of the White Room Gallery. "VIC 161 and DOM TAG are certainly no exception. Their works provoke, engage, amuse and challenge you to decipher. Whether working with oils, spray paints, air brushes or acrylics the color schemes are so vibrant that they jump off the canvas and metal. Their collective works integrate pop art, abstract, animation, death and life."

Graffiti by VIC 161. (Courtesy Photo)

VIC 161 was born in Bruxelles, Belgium in 1959. He was always drawn to art from a very young age, able to execute well-defined pencil sketched portraits of anyone who would sit for him. He was encouraged to pursue his interests and entered advanced art classes where, by age, he showed a natural aptitude in watercolor landscapes. VIC 161's family immigrated to the United States in 1967 and landed in the eight-year-old Fordham section of the Bronx at the height of the psychedelic era and POP ART movement. The pivotal shift in VIC's artistic expression was fueled in 1968 by the sight of a Peter Max designed billboard. The early seventies launched a graffiti trend, especially in the New York City subways. VIC was most compelled to be a part of a fascinating movement on the rise as he rode the subways and watched artists create works. By 1974, V.P. Dedaj became VICTOR-161 and painted hundreds of train cars that would soon be admitted into the world-famous graffiti clique "WILD STYLE"—an honor bestowed due to peer recognized artistic and stylistic abilities.

"The desire to create is all consuming, becoming a joyous and torturous obsession. It brings harmony to the mind and spirit while simultaneously unsettling each. And I cannot imagine life without it. When it beckons, you must answer, knowing full well that you are to endure the torture that awaits in order to bring forth what your mind's eye sees, what your spirit feels and what will come forth onto the blankness before you," reflected VIC. "I work on canvas, wood and aluminum subway panels that I fabricate by hand. Reminiscent of my days on the tracks without the fear of being arrested or whitewashed."

VIC became a well-known and respected writer who "pieced" with revered writers of the day. By 1977, VIC retired from painting NYC subway trains with occasional excursions thereafter. He continually sought to expand his artistic pallet, studying Art History & Graphic Design in college while seeking knowledge from masters in various fields. His works have shown in independent galleries nationally and are sought internationally.

TAG was born in 1962. His mother first nurtured TAG's interest in art by purchasing his first airbrush. By age 17, TAG was known for his hand tag in bus yards and other public surfaces running from his hometown to New York City. TAG's personal attitude growing up was "if it's not available, make it available," which inspired him to craft his own fat caps, markers, and mixing his own inks. Well into his career, TAG has launched successful airbrushing businesses in both New York and Florida, tattoo studios in New York, and other private commissions. He has become a well-versed tattooist within his ten years of experience.

"As a child I always wanted to see new ideas. With each passing year my inspiration and influences grew," said TAG. "Then came graffiti. What started as a bunch of guys trying to say something evolved into hundreds of guys creating a movement. My art today embodies all those early influences. Development is now what I want to paint. Fun and color are my muses. I strive to have my works be full of life. Ideas come from my drawings, old and new. My media is always a choice of what style and look I'm trying to create. I have no demons, only icons and angels." 

The White Room Gallery is located at 2415 Main Street in Bridgehampton. For more information, call 646-431-3182 or visit www.thewhiteroom.gallery.

Sydney Braat is a Hamptons-raised and NYC-living journalist. She enjoys splitting her time between the bustling city life and relaxing atmosphere of the Hamptons. When she's not writing, Sydney is traveling. She thrives off of new experiences, cultures, cuisine, and languages. Sydney writes about the arts, philanthropy, food & wine, and shopping. https://www.sosydneyny.com/ sydneybraat

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