Jul 18, 2014

Fine Art Friday: AIM SSB - "Brooklyn Graf History"

Of all the accolades that are given to Brooklyn, rarely do any original Brooklyn graffti artists from the late 70s or early 80s get any shine these days. Often, any art movement in Brooklyn is thrown the way of new school street artists who have legal murals, wheat paste installations, yarn and other forms of public art that is often less scrutinized than the graf of the past. I recently had a chance to sit and talk with one of the original train painting graf artists from that era by the name of AIM SSB, or George Colon, and talked about the origins of the graf in NY and what became of the early crews.

AIM SSB was part of the SSB crew, as noted by the name, that many folks do not know was the original crew that Lee Quinones, of Wild Style fame, grew up with. This fact was captured on screen and recently viewed, with some key players edited out, in the re-released film "Stations of the Elevated" which documented the 80s painted trains in NYC. The celebration of this film brought together some of the famed writers from that era, including AIM, and paid homage to the rough and tumble days of the squads that ran those streets.

As a bit of history, George Colon grew up in Williamsburg (BK) in the area known as "Southside" and spent most days hanging out at "Peoples Park". Encouraged early on my his mother to draw and paint, he often "decorated" the halls, walls, and mailboxes of his own building with show polish when other materials ran out. Eventually, he went to the High School for Art and Design, which is where he claims "all hell broke loose". He learned the "how to" of graf and started writing with CAM and DO. This new found passion lead him to other writers like BOMB1, COR2, DON1, DEFIE, EARL, SEVEN and SHADOW. He credits the school with the inspiration to create and after studying as a mentee with famed STAYHIGH 149, took to the train yards of NYC and ran with the SSB crew (Soul Stoned Brothers) from then on. Known as many names, AIM (aka DUSTY/ OH222/ AVE) was part of history and didn't realize it until now, when the world is nostalgic for the fully painted trains of the 80s that can only be seen in film, books like Keith Baugh's "Early NY Graffiti 1973-75"and archived photos now.

Personal tragedy and life in general took AIM SSB around the world and eventually to a more structured and career-minded field in government work as a draftsmen. His early rebellious days helped in navigate life and grow from beyond the dangerous streets of 1980s NYC to his current role as a youth counselor. Despite the careers that followed his youth and the fact that the Bronx gets attributed most of the credit for graf origins, AIM is proud that his early work as a graf writer helped identify Brooklyn as a writers bench and the photos exist to prove that the graf movement was not restricted to one borough. Brooklyn has legends of its own and that one of the most iconic figures of that early era, Lee Quinones, was partners with AIM in the SSB crew, and that the photos exist to showcase their work from those early days is further proof that Hip Hop Culture often ignores some of its vital roots in the modern era. Perhaps hip hop and graf would not be where it is today if not for the fearless approach that AIM and his SSB crew, among others, took with graf in the 1970s and 80s.

Do your research and check some of the photos featured here for some older and newer work from AIM and see how active he remains with his skills. Always writing in black books and still testing himself to resolve design issues; the mark of a true artist.

1 comment:

MICO said...

You call yourself an "iconic figure of graffiti" who started writin' in 1970 (we didn't even call what we did back then "graffiti," instead, we called it Writin'), and yet, you don't have photos of your "iconic" work on the subways. You are always talking about what others did, but never talk about what yu did, because simply speaking, you were not even there. Go look at the MY ART SCHOOL page at http://abstractsocialrealism.com/ As of three or so years ago, you started to ride LEE's coat tails, and now all of a sudden, LEE and now Stay High "149" were your "mentors." I have never seen a photo of a ssb top-to-bottom spray painted on the side of a NYC subway. On the other hand, I have seen running on the subways and photos of it, THE FABULOUS FIVE top-to-bottom by LEE. ALSO,

I've never seen signatures or pieces by either LEE and now, Stay High "149" with aim signatures or pieces next to them....meaning that you never went bombing with these two masters of Writin' because you simply were not there. - MICO