Stemming back to the 1980′s, graffiti writing has been a thriving subculture in the Bay Area. Often coinciding with political movements and tensions, the much-debated art form continues to be a relevant part of Bay Area culture in 2012. As well as examining the motivations behind graffiti writing and the current state of the scene, the video above focuses on Oakland-based graffiti artist GATS (Graffiti Against The System), one of the most well-known and respected graffiti artists in the Bay Area. As tension between the people of Oakland and the Oakland Police Department has increased in recent years with the killing of Oscar Grant and the Occupy movement, GATS has linked up with musician and songwriter Roberto Miguel to paint verses from an original poem around the city of Oakland.
Despite the disappointment that I, and many other Oakland residents, felt with the results of the Occupy movement, I still remember how exciting it was initially. This time last year there was a pervasive feeling in the streets of Oakland that a radical change was forthcoming. As I walked down Adeline and across the overpass to the Port of Oakland on November 2nd, side by side with fellow residents of all colors and ages, it felt as though the people in this city were a stronger force than any institution. A year later, it’s clear that there’s still plenty of work to be done. To my mind though, any form of artistic protest is a step in the right direction. Find part two of the video below.