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Legendary Street Artist to Graffiti walls of the Maier Museum

Al Diaz (Photo credit: Felix Dickinson)

Al Diaz (Photo credit: Felix Dickinson)

On Saturday, September 1, first-generation street artist Al Diaz will paint graffiti on the gallery walls of the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College. The public is invited to drop in between 1-4 p.m. to meet the artist and watch Diaz at work.

Diaz is best known for his collaboration with Jean-Michel Basquiat on SAMO©, graffiti that appeared in lower Manhattan from 1977 to 1979. SAMO© initially became known because of its wit and sarcastic humor, but later emerged as a globally recognized graffito after Basquiat’s rise to fame.

A prolific and influential first-generation NYC subway graffiti artist, who later became a text-oriented street artist, Diaz’s career spans five decades. He currently works with WET PAINT signs used throughout the New York City subway system. After cutting out individual letters to create clever, surreal, and sometimes poignant anagrams, he hangs the finished works in subways stations throughout New York City. His WET PAINT work was featured in the 21st Precinct Street Art Event (July 2014), a solo show at “Outlaw Arts” (March 2015) and will appear in the upcoming book, “Street Messages” by Nicholas Ganz.

Diaz’s graffiti installation at the Maier is part of Randolph College’s 107th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Zeitgeist: The Art Scene of Teenage Basquiat, which opens on Friday, September 14, with a reception from 5-7 p.m. A group exhibition, Zeitgeist focuses on the artists and scene around Jean-Michel Basquiat’s teen-aged, pre-fame years. The exhibition was organized to complement the theatrical release of the Magnolia Pictures film Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat, directed by Sara Driver ’77The film premiered on May 11 at the International Film Center in New York and the exhibition opened on May 13 in the Howl! Happening gallery in the East Village of Manhattan. Following the exhibition’s close on July 29, it is travelling to the Maier where an expanded version will be on view September 14-December 14, 2018. The period covered in both the exhibition and film tells the story of Jean-Michel’s early work, peers, and creative community in gritty, pre-AIDS, downtown New York—before the rise of the 80s art and real estate juggernaut.

Also taking place at the Maier on Sept. 1 from 1-4 p.m. is an interactive component, “Personal Freedoms: A Button Making Campaign and Wearable Exhibition.”  Visitors will be encouraged to exercise their freedom of expression by creating a button that captures the issues that are important to them and then wear their buttons to start conversations. The project is in partnership with For Freedom’s 50 State Initiative, a non-partisan, nationwide campaign to use art as a means of inspiring broad civic participation.

Throughout the exhibition, visitors are also asked to respond to the question, “Is graffiti art or vandalism?” and leave their thoughts on a gallery wall at the Maier.

Numerous programs and events will be held at the Maier through the fall in conjunction with the Zeitgeist exhibition. Learn more at During the academic year, the Maier is open Tuesday-Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Admission to the Maier and its programs are free, unless otherwise noted.

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