Tag, We're It: Ben Eine, Renowned Graffiti Artist, Leaves His Mark on Dallas Today

Categories: Schutze
eine1.JPG
Photos by Jim Schutze
Ben Eine, the international street-art star and former graffiti fugitive, was out on Fort Worth Avenue this afternoon painting a mammoth graffiti-style mural based on his tag -- EYN -- on the side of a building. Listen: This is huge.

Earlier this year Eine was given a big wall to paint in central London, where he lives. Last year British Prime Minister David Cameron gave one of his works to Barack Obama. He's huge. Not as a person. He's a normal-sized person, but you know what I mean. He's headed to San Francisco tomorrow. He was just in Osaka. This guy was talkin' to ME! Jim Schutze.

There was a reporter there from some other paper too, but really you could tell Eine wanted to talk to me mostly. He told me, well, us, that he was jailed 14 times as a kid for tagging. Now he's gone semi-straight as a legal street artist who actually gets permission from property owners before putting up his work.

When I found him he was just wrapping up a huge tag/mural at the top of the hill above the Belmont with a lovely view of downtown in the distance.

I wanted to be the one who asked him the piercing questions, so I asked him if he was at all concerned that here in Dallas, a fairly conservative city, if people started driving by and seeing his art like this, they might all turn into crackheads. I was quite taken aback by his answer.

"I don't know," he said. "There's some truth in it. If I can run down your street and tag my name on every other brick wall and not get pulled in by the cops, then what else is somebody going to do?"

eine2.JPG
The man himself
So, shit! We could all become crack-heads! I knew it! Luckily for me, there are no brick walls on my street.

Really, he was talking about graffiti -- the illegal stuff that got him thrown in jail as a kid, not the street that has made him a big international art star now.

Roy Appleton, the guy from the other paper, asked him what's the difference. I would call that a semi-good question, not quite up to my massive crackhead question, but good enough for government work.

"Graffiti fucks stuff up," Eine said. "Street art makes it better."

Hah! Appleton told Eine that he couldn't use that quote in his paper. But I could in mine! I said hell yes, we actually require people to use the F-word in interviews.

I asked Eine another zinger: What did he hope people would get out of his art?

Turning toward his mural thoughtfully, spray can in hand, he said, "I think they can look at that and say, 'Wow! Shit!'"

That's what I'm talkin' about. Art criticism. You read it here first, folks.

Eine's presence in Dallas is in conjunction with a charity art auction at the Goss-Michael Foundation this Saturday through the 24th, including works by Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Faile, Rankin and Peter Blake. Admission is free. On the 24th there will be a gala evening and auction to benefit The Staying Alive Foundation. Admission will be charged for the gala. For information go to here.

Before I left I asked him if he had ever heard any of my questions before. He said no, they were all totally original. I might even paint that on my pickup: "TOTALLY ORIGINAL." My tag.
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20 comments
Glab
Glab

 I give this whol ordeal about Dallas commissioning a foreign artist to com and paint mediocre graffiti a thumbs down. Many street artist never have heard of Ben nor recognize his artwork. He is more of a Pop star. No disrespect to his work and style but there are artist in Dallas who do much better work illegally than what Mr. Ben displayed on his "murals" The Big graffiti letters was a disapointment. With permission on such a massive wall I know a masterpiece could have been created. Not some New York style letters with bubbles and drips. I felt that Dallas shot itself in the foot paying this guy

measy
measy

I am so glad that he came here! He also painted a construction wall by the new museum tower at woodall rodgers and olive street.

eastdallasgirl
eastdallasgirl

Have you noticed that the "Yarn Bombers" of East Dallas are da bomb! when it comes to recent street art - and they got the OK from the City to bomb the libraries and the Arts District...this makes for decent planning on the part of the art collective.

eastdallasgirl
eastdallasgirl

If you google Image for Ben - you will see that he is provides tasteful graphics, sometimes political, most times kid-friendly. I think his radicalness is overcome by his pop recognition.

Total Shit
Total Shit

"wow, shit"

Couldn't have said it better myself - because it is total shit.

dicky van tastic
dicky van tastic

Why does Dallas get excited about art coming from outside Dallas?  The city has some of her own famous street artists, who we don't support. 

weightlift
weightlift

Not bothered by the profanity so much as I am the fact I was hoping to read an article about an internationally renowned street artist and found instead it was actually a really bad PR puff piece about Jim Schutze.

I mean really why dont you just sit in a room and interview yourself. It'd be a whole lot less work, wouldn't it?

Observerist
Observerist

It also seems like you require profanity in all of the non interview articles written by the sophomore journalism students recently hired on to write for this blog.

GAA
GAA

Sour grapes 13 does street art here.  I saw Knowledge is Power tagged on a wall of a convenience store near Moises Molina High School a few years back.

Jason
Jason

Actually, I think what's his name and that other collective out of Oak Cliff have been written up in the Observer.  I get what you're saying, though.  But, honestly, what would a little press do for some street artists?  Point them out to authorities?  I think what's his name I mentioned above is the only one to go from street to gallery.  He got a write up cuz of his show at Art Prostitute.  Oh, yeah.  I almost forgot about Mosquito.  I actually remembered his name.  Is he still around Dallas?  Used to do stuff mainly in Exposition Park.  He did great stuff.  More mural than tags.  But back to this whole street art and getting press.  Really, what good would it do?  Was there anyone in particular that you were thinking of that needs the press or would want the press?  Maybe I misunderstand who you're talking about when you say street artist.  Most of the good ol' illegal stuff gets painted over.  I still love the train cars on Garland Road.  Those are great.  Not sure of their origin, if it's Dallas or not, but I love it.  I think what's his name got around the most.  Like, got around the country.  I remember seeing a piece of his in NY once.  I was pretty excited. 

fantaggo
fantaggo

Now if Robert would offer us a video of Jim tagging himself with a can of orange right of way spray paint while he interviews himself, I'd watch that.

JimS
JimS

C'mon. There's no such thing as too much me.

JimS
JimS

No, they're potty-mouthed like that because they all have Columbia and UCLA Masters degrees. If the company wanted to clean it up,  I assume they'd hire more local and knock it down to maximum of a B.A.

engmofo
engmofo

Mosquito is still around just doesn't do street stuff anymoreLove me some Tony Bones

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

I think he's on to something though. I think you should interview yourself. Who else is going to ask the really hard questions?

Anon
Anon

As in "!*$&, this graduate degree is never going to pay for itself!" and now I'm overeducated. I think that's probably why it comes so naturally.

Weightlift
Weightlift

You mean hard questions like (with furrowed brow), "Now what do you hope people will get out of your art?" 

Because god knows Picasso sat around hoping people got very specific stuff from his art. Really he did...

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