Inside Old Crow's Stand Tall Pt. III: Talking with Terry from Old Crow

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OCTOBER 10, 2012

The Old Crow Tattoo & Gallery’s exhibit, Stand Tall Pt. III, which opened a little over two weeks ago, was what many would call a curatorial feat. Synthesizing 30 massive installations by 38 artists into one, coherent exhibition — and in an 800 square foot space — was not a task easily accomplished. To make the show mesh and flow, and also assert a direct message about art today — co-curators Barrett Moore and Terry Addison may as well have quit before they began. Yet, in face of such a challenge, they created the best Stand Tall so far, achieving all of these goals and beyond. I was able to walk around the finished exhibit with Terry, who curates all the shows at Old Crow and has since the gallery’s inception a few years ago. Terry has a strong handle on Bay Area art, and is connected to many local artists, as well as many who are based around the country and internationally. An artist himself, he will be showing his work in the next exhibition at Old Crow, so keep your eyes out.Anna Carey: Since you have relationships with many artists around here, around the country, and internationally, when you were picking these artists, what’s the process that you go about? What makes you choose who you choose?

Terry Addison: For this show, I wanted to give people who were in it before a chance to reinvestigate the ideas that they had last year. I wanted to put new people in the show that I thought were outside of what I had shown the last two years. I wanted to pick people who I thought maybe could contribute what hadn’t been done before. I wanted people to be here. That was the thing. If you couldn’t really be here, it made it really difficult for me to see it happen in a way. Alison (Lilly) came from Canada to the show and that was a big deal. She was going to mail some stuff, and it just seemed that it was better to have the artists in person.

AC: Did almost every artist come to the space?

TA: Every single one. They all made their way here.

AC: Wow, that’s amazing. When you said you were looking for artists who were outside what you had done last year, what exactly do you mean by that?

TA: I wanted to add more sculptural elements to the show. That was a really specific thing. I wanted to clean certain areas of it up. I added finer elements to the show than I may have had in the past. In the past, maybe I was looking for things to be a little bit more chaotic. This year, I kind of wanted thing to be a little more refined. I was really stoked when people had contained ideas, instead of it being like “Oh, I’m gonna like be crazy.” Last year, there was space for people to really just freestyle it, just kind of like go at it.

AC: You’re happy with everything, and how everything has worked? Was there a lot of shuffling the last day?

TA: There was, there was. Last saturday, out of the 30 spaces maybe like 25 of them were done. So that Saturday was pretty intense. Not only was I seeing what the show was going to look like, I could also see what wasn’t going to work. People were bringing stuff in and I was making changes according to what these last few people were bringing in. Lots of changes happened in that last day and the last few days.

AC: Are there any pieces that were your favorites, or pieces that you were surprised by? Or just ones you want to point out?

TA: Yeah, sure, I can give you a few from different viewpoints. I think that covering what would be like graffiti, you know, Renos’ section is really simple and fun. I really like the chance that I got to hang it the way I wanted. This was one of the first ones that I did. It looks the way I wanted it to. I think it’s really simple, but it really gets across his thing. It’s just his name. Maybe this is a sentiment for graffiti. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of things that go into it that are more than just the person’s name. That baseball bat kind of speaks to that a little bit.

AC: What’s the baseball bat about?

TA: We can just say that sometimes you run into things that you might need a baseball bat for. I’m sure that baseball bat has a story. And then finer things. Art school things, if you will, I really really like Spencer (Keeton Cunningham) and Kool Kid Kreyola. I think it’s my favorite.  It’s pretty whimsical and artsy fartsy. But it’s really serious. That’s the thing I think that people don’t always take away from their work. That it’s really serious. I know they’re putting a lot of effort into what they’re making. I really like this. They’re dope, they’re dope. Their future I think will be very interesting, and I just kind of like being able to touch it, be a part of it a little bit. I know in ten years, the work will have developed a lot. The course that they’re on now, I think they’re pushing things.

AC: What’s the T-shirt here?

TA: Last time, they had an art show here, someone came and spray painted over the T-shirt.

AC: Like planned?

TA: Unplanned. Like destroyed the art. In the middle of the opening. It was real crazy. That’s like an Old Crow moment. I don’t really talk about it that much, but it was crazy. I mean it was rad because in the grand scheme of things, it’s a silk screen T-shirt. Cause like, Oh thats really cool now. You just made it even cooler. She could have went way further. For her, I think she was crossing out his namesake like you would in the street if it was graffiti. But in the gallery, it only translated to her making the work better. Because there is a sort of animosity that it added to the work. It was misplaced. It was like, Oh wow, people are really mad at the wrong things. They are so caught up in it that they’re trying to use your artwork as a statement. She was making the wrong statement, but It was rad. So having the T-shirt back is a play on that. That’s why it says “Fuk Dat Shit.”

AC: Anymore?

TA: There are so many, I mean I like them all! Everyone did, like, their thing. Like Joe (Kowalyzck), I’m sure this equates to at least 200-300 hours of sculpting. Just that alone, and his execution. It’s really rad. It’s so rad that it’s almost like, touching on it here, is kind of obvious, but it should be touched on because it’s really that strong. I put him in the show to have it have variety. I assumed that he was going to kill it, as they say. This is a more involved idea.

AC: Obviously that was the intention, to incorporate street artists and fine artists? And street artists doing fine art et cetera. How do you feel like graffiti has now been transitioned into gallery spaces, especially in the context of this exhibit?

TA: In a public sense, more people are doing graffiti. It’s like the internet, it’s killing it. Everybody is feeding off of everybody’s energy. That network of, “Oh I did this,” is really big now. It’s becoming something now that I think kids that wouldn’t have normally done this 10 or 20 years ago (are now doing). In the ‘90s, it wasn’t like that. The internet and the exposure of graffiti and street art have allowed people to really take part in it. Even if it didn’t have a place of esteem or respect 10 years ago, if you add another 10 years to where we’re at now, it will just be another art form. It won’t be those “graffiti artists.” If you look at the major museums in the country, they have at least one graffiti-based show on their calendars. And that’s now. It’s just getting to influence people that haven’t been into it. Add another 20 years, and these people that are just seeing it… it’s gonna be crazy. The generation below me is being influence to make really dope shit. So you go down another generation, it’s going to be crazy, you know what I’m saying. What it is in the gallery, it’s not going to go away. It’s like hip hop. It’s not going to die. There’s going to be more of it. More people are going to be stoked on it than less. That’s the same thing with graffiti artists transitioning into the gallery. It’s going to be easier, not harder. There are going to be more people like me who are in positions where they can bring (graffiti artists) into the gallery. Sooner or later, I feel like the people that weren’t stoked on it, aren’t phasing out, but they’ll be doing other things. And the people, like me, will be doing their things. I think it’s where we’re headed in terms of acceptability. It’s going to continue to be more and more accepted. It’s still going to be illegal, but there are going to be more heads doing it. In the gallery, there’s going to be more graffiti artists. There’s a stigma now, “I dont wanna bring my graffiti into the gallery.”

AC: How do you feel about that stigma?

TA: Over time, people will be able to separate their thing. That’s what a lot of older graffiti artists are doing. They’re separating their graffiti in the gallery and in the street. They’re making things that are received well in both arenas. I’m really not into the street art thing very much. I really tried to shy away from street art stuff (for the show). Some people take part in the street art graffiti thing interchangeably, but there are no singularly street artists (in the show). With street art, there’s this accessibility that doesn’t have a lot of cred or respect. Anyone can pick up some stencils and start wheatpasting in the street. We could do that tomorrow.

AC: I could do that tomorrow.

TA : Yeah! And you may even be asked to. It’s a new way of promoting things. Major companies are using wheatpasting and things like that as promotional tools. It makes the whole thing lame. It shouldn’t really be like that. Anyone can do it, and it’s being used for the wrong reasons. So, yeah. That’s where it will be. That’s the one thing that I can say as I see things moving forward. There will be more.

AC: And is that positive, you feel? That graffiti is expanding and being taken more seriously in gallery settings?

TA: Yeah, I don’t think it’s negative. What happens with the is it good or bad, that’s up to the artist. If it’s not the place to be, they shouldn’t be there. They should just kill it in the street. And for some people, that is enough and that translates to something. I have as much respect — probably more respect for that than killing it in the gallery, having not done it in the street. Because that’s where the art form has been. That’s where the art is. If that’s your thing, you should develop it in the street, before it translates to the gallery. That’s where you’ll find if it’s thumbs up or thumbs down.

AC: Have many of these artists had big graffiti careers?

TA: As graffiti writers? The ones that are in the show who write graffiti, every single one have had respectable careers…. Out of like 30, there’s probably like 7 spaces that are taken by actual writers, so there’s not that many. Every year I try to cut it down, because this has always been a graffiti thing. I’ve been cutting that down, refining the idea of what graffiti in the gallery is . And then adding more types of art to round that thing out. The first show, it just seemed like a graffiti thing. I only gave people four days. In four days, they kind of had to do it.

AC: In terms of the art speaking to a broader definition of contemporary art, how do you feel like the artists come together to speak to that?

TA: I honestly think this show moves really well. I know that in my head I really care about graffiti, so there’s always going to be a fair amount of graffiti. But I think as a survey of what I think contemporary art is, and the perspectives that people want to get across in that. I think that it’s pretty finished; it’s a finished thought. I definitely think that it conveys something if people are willing to look at it as a whole. Individually, though, it’s everyone’s own section. And that’s the thing about the show. As a whole, I tried to cover a lot of things. I tried to be specific about what I was using to cover certain topics and ideas. But overall, it’s pretty well rounded. It’s pretty full.

AC: When you say well rounded, do you mean in terms of styles and materials?

TA: Yeah, for sure. Stylististically. And materials. It covers more material than I’ve probably ever had. It’s really interesting that (even though) I didn’t direct the subject matter, there’s lots of really recurring subject matter. It’s really interesting. There is a certain subject matter that a lot of people tried to touch in. Which is the native american thing.

AC: Why do you think that was the thing that so many people chose to portray?

TA: You know what. I have no idea. When the art started coming in, lots of people had Native elements. It’s cool because that is in people’s conscious I think. I have no idea how it became so many people. I was like, Woah 4 people. But it’s cool. There’s all different ways people went about doing this show. From install, to really clean framed works. So many different ways to go about how people set up their ideas and filled up the space.

AC: It seems that a lot of these artists are far along in their processes, like very developed.

TA: Yeah for sure. And that was the thing. As the gallery gets older, I’m always down for what’s new. But I really like the chance to grow with the artists. Out of the 30 spaces, I would say 25 of them feature artists that have already shown here or done something here in our three years. I think that’s really important for galleries to grow with the artists.

AC: What’s on the horizon for next year?

TA: This space has to change, it has to be different for next year. 2013, the programming will be different. We’re going to change it up again. I started showing that towards the end of this year. I feel like the shows have been a little different. Gotta switch it up. Because now a lot of spaces (in the area) are showing the same artists I show. And that’s rad because it’s like, Oh, there’s dope art, we just have to look for it. I’m glad I can help people to understand. But it’s time for me to look again, and bring more people into the fold. Because now, it’s gotten accepted. These artists are doing it. I’ve helped them to get this sort of acclaim and push them forward. Now it’s time to change that up, and get some new folks in the fray. It’s gonna be rad.

Contact Anna Carey at 


OCTOBER 10, 2012