Feb 08, 2011 | Comments 16
SMEAR: “To make a smudge on; soil by smudging; A slanderous defamation;”
There is an unknown force that kept drawing me into the world of Smear. Perhaps a fascination in his current legal woes for allegedly masterminding a quarter mile long tag on the Los Angeles River which estimated took 3 to 400 gallons of paint and hefty 3.7 million dollars to clean up. Perhaps it is because every turn I make in Los Angeles as I photograph I see his stickers or tags in a dirty alley’s but then find his work on a cover of a newspaper celebrating his fine art.
On his myspace he defines his occupation as “scumbag” and list his hero’s as “mostly dead guys”, on his site his work is described in words such as “dismaying potency of mediated imagery and the inescapable codes of representation”. He can be found on trashcans and museums. Smear is an enigma, uninterested in pretenses or filters with no intentions of stopping. Ladies and Gentlemen…Smear.
Where did the name Smear come from?
Back in 1990 or 1991 my best friend’s big brother gave me the name SMEAR. SMEAR was his name, but there was another guy (a big, mean guy, apparently)in the crew that he was in at the time that wrote SWEAR. SWEAR decided that SMEAR was too close to his name so he socked my friend’s brother up real quick and told him to change his name. The poor proto-SMEAR decided to do as he was told and came back home all bruised and puffy and asked me if I wanted to take the name SMEAR over from him. And I did. It was a whole lot better than the crap names that I had had up until then, shit like GIZMO (because I really loved the movie Gremlins, still do, actually) and SHREADS (because I had a long sleeved T&C t-shirt that said: Built to shread on it.) so as you can see that I would of been stupid not to take a kick ass fucking name like SMEAR when the opportunity presented itself to me.
How would you best describe yourself?
As honest. In my art and in my life. I’m like a regular god damned George Washington admitting to chopping down cherry trees n shit, even though that wooden teeth rocking father of a nation apparently never chopped down any fucking cherry tree and therefore never had to admit to jack. I mean even when I should lie I mostly don’t. Like, if a bitch asks me if I want something more from her than just some pussy, instead of saying something like: no, baby, I like you for who you are, I love spending time with you, and talking to you. I’ll usually say something like: No, I’m not just here for the gash, I also enjoy the head. So yeah, I’d describe myself as honest. And I feel that you can see that honesty in my work as well…It’s all me in there, the real me…whatever the fuck that means.
Although I do lie from time to time…but when I do it’s mostly for experimental reasons…or when I’m going undercover like 007 (for instance, on one of my fat-girl hunts, which you will read about in a short while.). Or, to get me out of some sort of a jam. Oh, and if a girl that I’m in a “serious” relationship with asks me if I’m cheating on her or something I’ll have to let her with a lie or two…sometimes you just gotta lie. If you think that I’m contradicting myself then fuck you!
One can’t bring up your name without mentioning your 2009 arrest for the half mile long L.A. River MTA piece which you were arrested for. What was the outcome of the experience, how do think it has affected you an your art and what are your thoughts on the piece itself?
I can’t really speak on it much, since the case is still active. I will say that the experience has been a good source of fuel for my work…all the frustration, anger, fear, and suspicion has done wonders for my brush hand. I really do buy into that, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, jazz.
Here is an article from the times that will shed some more light on it for all of you out there in Dirtfloor land: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/06/city-prosecutors-seek-civil-court-injunction-against-metro-transit-assassins-tagging-crew.html
You have navigated the world of graffiti, street art and galleries. How are each of these different and do each affect how you make art?
Same shit, different toilet. The streets are where the instantaneous fun is. The quick fix. Sitting around working on a painting gives you a different rush. It’s slower in coming on, it is fraught with all kinds of frustrations that will jump at you while you are working on a piece, you might even consider suicide from time to time, but there is nothing that will give you the satisfaction of sitting there and staring at a finished piece. I can literally stare at one my finished paintings for hours on end. And I also do the same, often times, with an unfinished piece…to let whatever parts of my mind that works on these kinds of things figure out what needs to be done to the painting to get me closer to having another finished piece that I can then in turn stare at for a bunch of hours more like some strange yogi meditating on some distant mountain top…only not.
The world of graffiti is a lot purer than the world of street art, I must admit. Most street artist are a phony bunch of wanna-bes. But, on the other hand, graffiti has a lot of dip-shits in it as well. But I’d say that street artists are more full of shit, pound for pound, than graff writers. Before you guys reading this get all offended and shit let me remind you that I said “most” street artists are a phony bunch of wanne-bes, so I might not have meant you. But maybe I did.
Galleries and all that are cool, though they can stress you out at times. I don’t think that you should get into street-art with the intention of getting into galleries already festering around in your mind from before you even slap up your first stupid looking sticker. You should get into it with an honest love for the streets. That is why I feel that graffiti writers are purer than street-artists, 99.9% of graff writers don’t jump into it with a 5 year plan. They don’t get into it with the mind set that they will be able to sneak in through the art worlds back door real quick when nobody is looking if they paste up a few photoshopped posters of something like a Smurf holding a flower around town for a bit. Graff writers usually get into it as young kids that are just doing it for the honest thrill or joy of it. The adventure. Of course there are the lame chumps that do it because all their friends are doing it and they want to be cool too, but we won’t talk about those jerk-offs too much because most of them don’t really ever last more than a season or two until the new trend of the minute, like rock climbing or competition eating, sways them away from the streets and the markers. Street artists, on the other hand, often times get into it as grown men (and, increasingly, as grown women), a good number of which after having completed some some of art school! If you can believe that. And even worse, yes, it can get worse, the schooling that they had often wasn’t even for fine art…it was for something despicable (at least to me) like advertising, graphic design or illustration. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-art school or anything like that, why, even I took a semester or two of classes at my local community college- LACC-until I realized that me and (art) school where not meant for each other, I’m all for a graff head that wants to take his work to the next level to attend an art school to help him step his game up if he feels so inclined. What I don’t like is some hack with no street history that is fresh out of some graphic design program all of a sudden deciding to to pursue street art as a career choice…and that is exactly what is being done these days on a regular basis. So yeah, that’s why I think that a lot of street artists are posers. True story.
What are the the three most important things in life to you right now and why?
My painting, books and Los Angeles. Painting keeps me sane, it keeps me from killing myself, or others, for that matter. I don’t know what I’d do if I wouldn’t be able to paint. It’s meditation, religion and occupation all in one. Books, for basically the same reasons as painting. I’d hate to live in a world devoid of books. The written word means many things to me. I read an average of three novels a week. And that’s just half of my reading intake. I’m not even mentioning the history, art, philosophy, biology, and whatever-else-catches-my-interest texts that I’ll pick up and thumb through, or the articles, or the graffiti that I read while walking around. Reading is an important part of my life. Los Angeles is important to me for the fact that it is where I do most of my walking around, cause It happens to be where I live. And walking around town is important to me. It helps me clear my head. It keeps me connected to the source…to the people, without actually having to interact with them one on one…because people suck and I don’t want to waste my time actually talking to them or anything. Unless they have pussies for me to conquer, then I’ll put up with a little bit of chatter to get the job done.
Who are the three most underrated artist that you know of?
SMEAR: 1.Serch…he pretty much single handedly started the slap tag revolution in Los Angeles. He has been making sick ass hand made slaps and slamming them around town since 1996. The guy is consistent as a motherfucker…but a lot of these kids don’t seem to be as up on him as they should be. Do yourselves a favor and keep your eye on him.
2. The Domino guy…he has been putting up those stacks of dominoes for a while now. I love seeing his spots. He kinda likes to keep some mystery surrounding him. Which is a good thing in my opinion.
3.Three legged…this guy was doing some innovative before-his-time shit in LA before street art really blew up the way that it has now. But the bastard quit right at the dawn of the whole thing. If he woulda just hung in there a few more years, he woulda been a legend, for sure. Do some research on him kiddies. Worth having a look at.
What are you most thankful for right now?
My mind…I really enjoy the way that the motherfucker works. It’s a whole of a lot better than most of the other fuckers minds that I meet. Their shit seems to operate all gay like…on only half power or something.
What do you think the motive behind tagging is, do you think the intent is rebellious? artistic? territorial?
It can be any of those things…and A whole lot more. It depends on the individual. It may be a combination of those things to some, with the percentages of the ingredients varying from person to person. Or it may just be one of two of those reasons. Or, it may just be something like boredom. Or a manifestation of OCD (which is, in part, why I did it.). God knows what might be motivating a person to get up, a bad case of hemoroids or maybe some retards do it cause it’s “mad hip-hop” yo.
Where you see yourself in 10 years?
Producing more and larger work than ever before, I’d already have branched out into an experimental form of sculpture that I’m tinkering with now, alongside my painting, and I also hope to have at least one or two novels published under my belt. Not to mention continuing to stick it to an ever changing, always rotating roster of young 18-25 year old girls, alternating with long stretches of my customarily needed seclusion away from people, where I can recharge my batteries by reading, painting, writing, watching weird movies and weirder documentaries and by just engaging in some good old fashioned laying around and wasting time,which is one of my favorite pass times. This would be accomplished in a studio that would appear much like an old fashioned study that you might read about as belonging to someone like Sherlock Holmes or a character out of an H.G. Wells story: A rather dark cluttered area with old wool rugs on the floors, half finished paintings all over the place, the tv droning busily in a corner(yeah, I know they didn’t have tv’s in ol’ Sherlock’s day, but whatever.), stacks of books steawn all over the place with torn pieces of paper used as makeshift bookmarks sticking out of them. Dark purples and silky burgundies festooning the walls in between the works in progress. Sections of the area maintaining a comfortable, consistent twilight giving it an H.P. Lovecraftian vibe. All this as I steadily gain in age and perversion, and, hopefully, in a wisdom of some sort. Basically I want to live the good life, or at least my version of it. And I’ll probably be using my real name, Cristian Gheorghiu, pretty much all the time in connection with my art by then.
What is something you wish you know now that you wish you knew when you were younger?
Wow! Making art isn’t something that A lame kid that grew up in a more or less ghetto environment shouldn’t only aspire to in his dreams and fantasy life. Just because all of the people around you are morons destined for shit doesn’t mean that you have to follow them on their paths to nothingness.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
Man, there are a lot of things about me that surprise even me. Here’s a good example of one of them: Every few months I get an urge. I don’t know where this urge comes from, or what it means, but I get it non the less. Every few months I want to fuck a fat girl…and I want to do it bad. So what I do I roll around town, on foot or on the bus…in parts of town that I don’t really frequent on a regular basis, and hunt. I ‘ll scope out a fat girl, or she’ll scope me out, and I’ll make contact. I’ll tell her that my name is Steve (I never give these gordas my real name…remember, sometimes you just gotta lie.), Steve Hernandez if the question of a last name ever comes up. The whole time that I’m talking to to this fat hoe I’m embarrassed, very much so…I try not to pay attention to the people that are around witnessing me picking up on this fleshy skank. So I block it out and focus on my mission…I’m in a far off part of town after all, Cerritos or Montebello, not a whole lot of people know me out here, fuck these people around me that I’ll never see again. Sometimes I’ll get a number and hit her up later and set something up, or sometimes I’ll talk my way into the big panties the same day, like 40 mins after meeting her or something. I once went to this girl’s pad that I met on the bus a few days later and as soon as I walked into her house her mom, who was an old chola, started saying something about, Desiocho, 18th st and so n so click before she stumbled her drunk ass out the door and left me alone to bone her fat daughter real good in her room that wasn’t really a room at all but a big walk in closet. Another time I went to meet up with a fat girl and stuck it to her on the top floor of her building by where the roof access door was. I bent her fat ass over and went to work. There where some turds drying in a corner of the landing and a hornets nest a few feet away from our heads up on the ceiling. As I walked away after the nastiness, she told me to call her, I said that I would, and she immediately yelled in a sad sounding voice, “No you won’t!” I just laughed as I walked on down the block. One I met some girl in Huntington Park and ended up fucking her that same day…she had a kid…his name was Charlie. She kept telling Charlie to go to sleep as I plowed her…the kid was good at pretending to be asleep.
Like I said, I don’t know why I do this…In my regular everyday life I’m not attracted to fat girls…I don’t even notice them most of the time, but ever 4 months or so…I gotta have me one! Can someone explain this to me?
If you had a microphone that can reach all the ears of the world, what would you say?
I’d tell them all that they are worthless pieces of shit. Then I’d tell them to put money into my bank account.
What’s next for Smear?
I don’t know.