A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

Tenacious Taggers Take Terrible Tumble

Graffiti on the roof of the Design District studio megaplex

Recently, as two of the many artists inhabiting the Design District studio megaplex were working late in preparation for Art Basel Miami Beach they became aware of frantic scrambling on the roof. After scouting the perimeter of the building, shouting, and throwing beer bottles at the noises, a young lad came tumbling down from the roof only to be cornered by the pair who presumed that the rascal was trying to break into the studios via rooftop vent openings. However, seconds before the scamp’s nose was broken by the likely avengers, various night watchmen rounded the corner and in the confusion the tyke escaped; running down the street, the smell of his fear still lingering in the air.

Google map showing the roof of the Design District studio megaplex

Minutes later, a great clattering in the fenced alleyway which abuts the studio produced more ragamuffins who having made a rather unfortunate choice of exit pleaded desperately to the artists to be released. By this time, however, uniformed forces had closed in and the artists, fearing an unpleasant response from angry authoritarians, quelled their combatant spirits and stood innocently by as the scoundrels were arrested. As it turns out, according to a security services spokesperson, the first of the impish perpetrators who was lucky enough to escape both a beating and capture was later apprehended at a gas station just down the road where he may have been waiting for his ill fated chums.

Graffiti on the roof of the Design District studio megaplex

Despite a night in the cells the long arm of the law was clearly not sufficient to deter the rapscallions as two days later the graffiti, which on the night in question had only been partially sketched, was miraculously finished. One can ponder the significance of tagging an artist’s studio to the nth degree, but it is more likely the proximity to I-95 as opposed to a contextual sensitivity attributed by these scallywags to defacing a nest of high-art that was their abiding motive. Whatever their gripe, rhyme, or reason for lollygagging around in the middle of the night on our roofs, one has to appreciate their tenacity. At face value their monkey business might seem naught but puerile, but with attributes of such dogged perseverance and clear athletic abilities we would perhaps do well to open ourselves to the persuasion that they, just like all the other artists in town, are simply trying to stand out from the crowd in the run up to Art Basel Miami Beach by making their mark in a place of prominence. Graffiti rules!



  • swampthing

    3 cheers for lurky, now you’re posting on the fly. next best thing to the smoking pistol. is that a google-earth of the bordello bodega? where have all the coconut palms gone?

  • Richard Haden

    It’s sad when artist can not communicate between themselves. As the event so clearly illustrates…that: there were artist who stood by why others were arrested. That is really sad and disgusting–that there appears to be a divisive stance–on one side their are those who lack Balls and on the other there are those with cans of spray paint who in stealth show that they do. I don’t know about the rest of you but I’d feel really embarrassed to stand by and let Uniformed authority sort out and judge who’s who. Who ever witnessed the escape of the Taggers should have given refuge or alibi to the Spray Painting perpetrators. Then each group could have sorted out there differences privately.

    That event illustrates a sad moment in the history of Miami’s developing Art scene. I hope that, at least, any charges are dropped.

  • Richard Haden

    There is a comical coincidence: Police shoot unarmed mannequin at locust projects; police arrest armed artist with pallet in hand. (the Graffiti artist’s pallet, being various cans and colors of spray paint–not unlike a painter’s pallet who works from various hues of oil or acrylic) I think the police are getting too much attention.

    I guess the artist or tenants at the above mentioned building were not aware that they as tenants had the right to tell the police to leave the Graffiti artist be. Since the artist / tenant are in authority as caretakers of the property, they must have the ultimate authority who comes and goes from the normal passageways or roof top. Sorry if I offended any one. But hearing that any one went to a Miami jail over expressing them selves on an empty parapet is very disturbing to me.

    Opening a can of worms as this article did for me, gets ideas flowing, especially one of my favorites: Personal / private property issues, or as the “Situationist” would phrase it, “Psycho-geographical,” wondering (in relation to the graffiti artist appropriating / exploring / exploiting different routes via roof top splendor)

  • Richard Haden

    I think Tom underestimates the power this article has in illustrating how certain daily quotidian occurrences, that seem innocuously comical, actually reflect an excepted passiveness in many of it’s citizens, especially, when it reveals how we react to authority (authority of the State, cultural authority, social authority and so on).

    I remember when I first moved to New York, back in the early 80′s, there was an artist / clubber named Michael Stewart who was murdered by New York transit police. A young black American with a Broad Tip Marker, writing on Sub Way adds lost his life by the brutality and negligence of NYPD graffiti critics–The not so finest NYPD uniformed code of Justice.

    So, when I hear that police are involved in the arts–other than as protectors. I get a wee bit pissed and squeamish.

    I am glad Tom posted this article. For it shows that the Miami Police need to take a course or two in cultural studies and tolerance training.

    Thanks for tolerating my obsessive rants regarding this important issue.

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  • Maude

    Awesome issues here. I’m very happy to see your article.
    Thank you so much and I’m taking a look ahead to touch you.
    Will you please drop me a e-mail?

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Tenacious Taggers Take Terrible Tumble