The Graffiti Project in Los Angeles

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On September 22, 2006 the haudenschild Garage unveiled its Graffiti Project, a collaboration with The New Chinatown Barbershop Gallery. From September 19 – 22 seven local graffiti artists and poet, performer, and art critic  worked in the Garage’s space in . The graffiti artists included Mario Ybarra JrGermsNeo, Retna, ShermSpew, and Zender.

Poem by Karla Diaz for the haudenschild Garage Graffiti Project in Los Angeles, 2006

Karla Diaz wrote about the experience as part of the project and her text was included in the graffiti mural.

Dangling from the
tip of my tongue
inflected-urban city
skyscrapers, blue
lovers’ apology
Aztec luchador
red lipstick, hoop-earrings,
dinosaur bones
God’s hieroglyphic soul
coming out of
Los Angeles –
aplhabet soup
brothers, mothers,
fathers, daughters
razor daffodils

A short documentary on the project was produced by Fat Sack Films.

About the Participants

Click here to visit Germs’ website. I am Jaime Zacarias, the youngest of three. My two siblings have moved out of our house and left my father and me to live together in Los Angeles. My mother passed away a few years back and it has been a challenge to live without her because she was my guidance and the number one fan of my artwork. I was born and raised in south central Los Angeles’ gang infested neighborhoods. I have seen lots of violence and drug abuse along with ignorance and many individuals who drop out of school. Los Angeles has presented me with good and bad experiences that have shaped my life and views. I continue to live in Los Angeles, with a supportive friend and my father. I have had a passion for art since I was a child in elementary school and I continue to find happiness and beauty in spending hours of a day painting and sketching. I have a natural desire to paint; I am a self-motivated painter. My artwork is truly spontaneous and unplanned. I trust my instincts and when I want to create something, the image appears. Because most of my work is unplanned, it is difficult to say when it is finished, so I go by feelings and instinct to guide me to a finished product. Since elements of my work include spontaneity and randomness, my finished product may be simple or insanely complicated. It is as if I do not think about what I am doing until I do it. My thought process and hand-to-paper process flow simultaneously. I use narrative imagery, graffiti art and found surfaces. I work in an audience-friendly style that allows the viewer to experience the piece.

Karla Diaz

Karla Diaz is a poet, performer, and art critic. She received her MFA from California Institute of the Arts and has read her work and exhibited projects in venues throughout Southern California including the Getty Art Museum, REDCAT, the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, Hunter College N.Y., and the Serpentine Gallery in London. She writes for several art magazines including Beautiful Decay, FlashArt and the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest. She is a founding member of Slanguage, ( an artists’ collective in Wilmington, and co-director for the New Chinatown Barbershop gallery.

Mario Ybarra Jr. lives and works in Los Angeles. He received his MFA from the University of California, Irvine and is a founding member of the artist?s collective Slanguage. His work has been featured in a number of institutional exhibitions, recently including Alien Nation at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, Uncertain States of America, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, and the 2006 California Biennial, at the Orange County Museum of Art. In 2007, he will participate in The World as a Stage, curated by Jessica Morgan at the Tate Modern, London.


Click here to visit Neo’s website.


Click here to visit Retna’s website. Retna was born in Los Angeles, California in 1979. Since first creating a name for himself in the early 1990s, Retna has become an “eternal broadcaster” of sorts, shining a light to the kinetic urban soul of Los Angeles. The name RETNA itself evokes the timeless power, movement and visual vibrancy behind the artist’s acclaimed work. His work merges photography with graffiti style and paint, time with color, couture with street culture, the spiritual with the sensual, and fluidity with grit. Whether his paintings hang in a gallery or wall on the streets of Los Angeles, they serve as a retina through which we view the urban journal of contemporary art. Today, Retna traverses between the galleries and streets with ease. In addition to being aligned with the Art Work Rebels and Mad Society Kings Art Groups, he is a member of the internationally exclusive art collective, The Seventh Letter, whose influence on contemporary street art encompasses the globe. In December 2007, he contributed to a large-scale mural project with El Mac and Reyes called “La Reina del Sur” at Miami’s Art Basel. His most recent projects include an exhibition titled “Will Rise” at Robert Berman Gallery and an installation called, “Street Life” at the LA Weekly corporate office.


Click here to visit Sherm’s website. I don’t like talking & writing about myself so I’ll try to keep it short. Sherm is an alias. I put this website up in 2004 to show graffiti photos & learn web design. I guess it’s my ongoing pet project slash art portfolio; it seems that I can never sit still and be satisfied with how the site looks, I am constantly changing it. As you can tell I keep changing this section as well. I’m currently a freelance designer/artist available for hire, I live in Los Angeles.


Raul “Spew” Vasquez is a graffiti artist and member of Slangauge. Click here to read an article written about his work by Karla Diaz.


Click here to visit Zender’s website. From 1996 to 2006 John Zender has produced a large number of murals for schools, community events and festivals( gaining over 50 awards and Certificates of recognition). Also producing graffiti style productions for movies, set designs and music videos. Zender has also produced a series of graphic design works and illustrations specializing in an urban style for flyers, graphics, logos andl illustrations for advertising and festivals. Currently John Zender has designed an implements an urban arts curriculum that began as a pilot after school program in 2001 titled Arts and Literacy. He has created a successful Urban Arts curriculum for the City of Wilmington (Wilmington Empowerment Project). The El Monte School District (project L.E.A.R.N. in four high schools). The City of Inglewood (South Bay Center for Counseling). The City of Hollywood (At the Park After Dark) and is still running a successful program for VIP Santana House in Lincoln Heights. Creative Art Solutions is a mural art company founded by Zender.