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Interview with Graffiti Writer & Gallery Artist Farce One

Happy September to you all!

It's back to school month and I'm less than two weeks away from arrival in the U.K.! My oh my, how this summer flew by. Fundraising is still going strong with about $8.5k raised so far between my Generosity campaign (donate here) and outside direct donations (message me for PayPal info if you are interested). I've also had several talented friends offer books, wares, and art that they make or sell as a donation to raise funds! A couple weeks ago we auctioned off Hedda Marbler's gorgeous zebra-wood bound journal, and we are currently auctioning two original pieces by Farce One!

Farce One is a graffiti writer, with over 5 years of experience in the roots of authentic graffiti. Continuing to develop as a graffiti writer, he took graffiti out of its natural environment and began to explore the limitations and the ways it can be pushed into new forms in a studio space. Studying Studio Arts at Hampshire College, the persona of “Farce One” was born, as a means to begin this exploration into the ways graffiti can remain true to the practice, yet also stretch the boundaries of Fine Art.

Farce One (Eli Shalan) at work

I am so lucky to have his pieces "BLUE" and "BRICK" up for auction. Each piece is 8.5 x 11 inches and was featured in his recent group show at the Diana Felber Gallery (West Stockbridge, MA) where they were listed for $100 each. Each piece starts at the bidding price of only only $50 and will increase in $5 increments.

Bidding runs through September 8th (11:59 EST) and bids are being placed on my Facebook & Instagram pages. Please email me if bidding has closed and you are still interested in a Farce One piece or visit his website here: http://cargocollective.com/farceoneart

"Both of those pieces are inspired by my recent explorations of two abandoned buildings. BLUE is a collage made using a found blueprint from 1956. I chose the lettering to be very rigid and straight like stone, inspired by the abandoned building which was an old cement company. The letters are “filled” using cut outs from the original blueprint, then outlined with acrylic paint.

BRICK is a drawing on a found Martin-Senour Paints chart from 1966. The drawing style I used is based on the decaying architecture of the mill which I found the paper in, with structures made of both of brick and steel. "

I was able to steal a moment with Eli (Farce One) during this busy holiday weekend to ask him a few questions about his background, process, and the essentials to appreciating graffiti (in and out of the gallery). Enjoy!

Hi Eli!

Thanks for your super generous donation of your work on behalf of my school campaign! I know my backers and readers would love to know a bit more about the fascinating artist that is Farce One. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you make?

I am currently based in MA, finishing my last year at Hampshire College. My work is largely influenced by the experiences I have through graffiti. I mostly work with collage and painting to express, visually, the emotions and feelings associated with graffiti, abandoned places, and trains.

Even though you are still a student and quite young, you've been graffiti writing for some time now… can you tell us about how you got interested in graffiti and some of your early memories of wielding a can of spray paint?

My interest in graffiti began through skateboarding and hip hop culture. I remember building a mini pipe for skating, and my brother and I going to the store and buying a bunch of spray paint to cover the mini pipe with. We went wild with it, and I guess the freedom of expression and just the excitement of spraying paint on a surface stuck with me.

Back in January you curated, organized, and participated in the Diana Felber Gallery show “En Mass”, born out of your studies as a Studio Art student at Hampshire College. Can you tell us a bit more about where your desire to investigate the bridge between graffiti and studio art comes from? And what answers or questions did you come to through your exploration?

Graffiti came first for me. It wasn't till my late teens that I found a place for studio art as well, and once I got to college it just took off from there. I always questioned whether graffiti could belong in the confines of a studio or gallery. Which still to this day is something I am working to figure out. Doing the show EN MASS lead to the question changing slightly, it is not “whether it can belong?” but “how can it belong?”

Along with this larger question, I also explored questions around the idea of selling work: How does one price graffiti? And around the presentation of graffiti art: How do we display this art form in a respected yet authentic way?

Who are your great influences in the graffiti world? Who are your influences in the gallery world?

Anyone who is being genuine to themselves and to the culture of graffiti and art. More specifically any of the people who I have painted with or chatted about graffiti and art with.

Although relatively new to the gallery art world, you have been featured in several prestigious shows in Berkshire county- a community rich with fine artists. You’ve been commissioned to paint a mural at Nudel Restaurant (Lenox, MA), and even won the “Norman and Rose Avent Fellowship Award” earlier this year—have you found the fine arts/ gallery world welcoming?

People seem to really be in awe of and appreciative of graffiti these days. But that being said, its all about how you present yourself. I have always taken a professional/entrepreneurial approach to myself as a artist. I have tried to remain true to my roots in graffiti yet also pay attention to what the fine art world is saying, so I think it makes room for all types of people to be interested.

Can you tell us about your process creating the two pieces you’ve donated for auction, “BLUE” and “BRICK”?