LA’s Mear-1 brings decades of experience to his art. Refined and politically motivated, Mear reflects being brought up in a difficult environment and a passionate struggle to increase human consciousness. His canvases contain an impossible amount of detail, which have rightly earned him the respect that only a master visual storyteller can achieve. A true one-off, I firmly believe that many of his pieces are of museum quality. He still paints walls regularly too.
I didn’t go to art school as an adult. In fact, I dropped out of high school around 1990-1. LA was a gang-influenced city with a lot of trouble. In school the gangsters would beat up and rob graf writers, so I got out. I jumped right into working with art – doing murals. LA was good for money in the 90s; it was relatively easy to make a living.
I pretty much developed the Melrose alleyway / Hall of Fame around 1990 [the alleyway is a famous hall of fame that runs for around five blocks just behind Melrose Avenue near West Hollywood]. Of course, other guys (like Hex and Minor also contributed).
My friend SK8 inherited CBS crew [Can’t Be Stopped, a very famous LA graffiti crew that Mear has been a very active member of]. SK8 was killed by a train in LA in 1993 and that changed my life dramatically. I realized that this artform involved in could kill you. Right away I made a shift away from the illegal side of graffiti.
I stopped being about the 4th element of hip-hop [graffiti] and I decided to find a place in the wider history of fine art. Around 1994-6 I felt I didn’t need to limit myself to just spray paint and I started doing more canvases and acrylics. Because of my graffiti background my first canvases were very large. My works now are mainly oil (since 2000).
I view art as an entity - I feel that the commercialisation of art in 1970s led to a stagnation in the art World. I think art became stale and so it reinvented itself in the 1980s with hip-hop. Art made itself inaccessible to the rich and the elite; it went back to the poor and the streets.
Now graffiti art has become part of fine art. When events like ‘See No Evil’ in Bristol become so widespread and accepted it will become boring. But for now it still reflects social inequalities and it’s still interesting.
I’m fascinated with science. History, science and the idea of consciousness are big influences on right now. Key themes for me then are: politics, history and science, philosophy, interpreting consciousness and recoding and relaying my experiences on earth. I like my art to be a mirror of society and make people think about themselves. I’m heading deeper into philosophies of art and how you can experience it in life. What you do you’re your time is key in life, plus how you contribute to reality / society. So yeah, I’m trying to expand my techniques and philosophies; that’s what I’m investing in.
I still paint outside in LA but only commissions or with permission. The LAPD [Las Angeles Police Department] are very dangerous. People have been shot and murdered by the police for traffic violations when they have been reaching for their wallets to take out identification. I keep it legal! LA is chaotic – that’s never changed.
See No Evil in Bristol is great. I’ve been enjoying seeing the old architecture in the UK. It’s great to see it juxtaposed against a modern art form [graffiti / street art] with all these great artists. It’s a very humbling human-like experience. Plus I get to connect with my genes; I’m white and from America so feels great being in Europe.
Art has the ability to liberate the potential of humans and we can share that with each other. The more I share the more I learn. Everything I add to my life helps me grow: art has been my vessel of growth!