SKEME . SAK. SHAME 125
"Cotton Comes to Spanish Harlem"
Curated by Fernando Ruíz Lorenzo
Exhibition Opening: Monday, September 2, 2013 6-9 PM
Bobbito Garcia aka Kool Bob Love spins from 9 PM-1 AM
Emperial Gallery at Camaradas El Barrio
2241 First Avenue (115 St)
New York, Nueva York 10029
Skeme was born in the Bronx, New York in 1964 to his father, a Barbadian immigrant and his mother a true Harlemite. Through his adolescent years Skeme enjoyed a front row seat to the free art show that adorned the New York City subway system and as fate would have it he and his mother moved to Esplanade Gardens in Harlem; his apartment building was literally 40 feet from the No. 3 Train Yard. He began writing graffiti in mid 1978 but did not “hit” his first train as Skeme until 1980. At the age of 15 Skeme “got up” on the New York City Mass Transit Authority’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, A, CC, D, E, F, M and J lines. This act of sending his work coursing throughout the veins of the five boroughs was known as going “ALL CITY”, an achievement not attained by many. Initially Skeme was known for bombing (writing) on the insides with a sophisticated “tag” style that has come to be one of the most recognizable “single hit” tags in graffiti history; however, Skeme soon discovered he had a knack for executing the elaborate masterpieces that many of the veteran writers before him and those of his day produced.
In the relatively short span of only two years Skeme covered the outsides of the trains with over 100 graffiti works of art with pieces ranging in intricacy from “simple silvers” to elaborate “wild style burners” to “whole car” productions. In addition to inside tagging style and outside letter masterpieces, Skeme became known for his original self portrait side profile cartoon characters that set him apart from his peer artists and who would spawn a host of imitators and innovators. At the age of 16 Skeme “took king of (dominated)” the number 1 and 3 lines by having the most pieces running on that line.
From 1980 to 1982 Skeme painted with some of the most notable Graff Writers of his day to include Phase2, Kase2 (RIP), Part1, Chain3, Kool131, Tean5, Kade198, Dez, EN005 (RIP), and Daze; he also enjoyed membership in some of the top writing crews to include: TMT TNT TDS TED and TC.
In 1982 Skeme, along with his mother, gained a small notoriety after being featured in the pioneering Hip Hop and Graffiti documentary “Style Wars”, produced by Henry Chalfant and Tony Silvers (RIP). This film was featured on the NYC public broadcasting station (PBS) and went on to achieve cult status, and serve as the digital ambassador of Hip Hop and Graff culture throughout the world and helped to launch Skeme to an iconic Graffiti status. His Graff fame however, would be short lived; in 1982 his mother’s wisdom prevailed and her ultimatums forced him to leave home and join the US Army where he served for over 28 years with the 2nd, 4th, 7th Infantry Divisions, and 82 Airborne Division, amassing over 100 parachute jumps. After his military career came to an end in 2010, his interest in Graffiti was soon rekindled. Since returning to painting Skeme has collaborated with some old and some new partners to produce some of the most talked about “post-train-era” productions. Skeme has also produced limited works for private collectors and has most recently finished a one man solo show in the Varsi Gallery in Rome Italy. He plans to continue the legacy of NYC Graffiti Writers and staying true to the original letter forms of his Graff forefathers.
INSPIRATION FOR THE EXHIBITION TITLE: “COTTON COMES TO HARLEM”
Detail from Photograph courtesy of BIO (TATS CRU)