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Automobile Alley hosts graffiti art show



Bobby Entaker is a plumber by day and an artist by night.

After a long day at work, he trades in his toolbox for spray paint and sits in front of a blank canvas. He shakes the can, the metal ball inside slamming from top to bottom, while his mind fills with ideas. His finger presses down on the aerosol nozzle, and before long, emptiness transforms into a mural of colorful letters, symbols and splatters.


To Entaker, this is art.

"Most people don't accept graffiti as art because they only see gangsters doing it," he said. "But we're doing something to get away from that."

The "we" he's referring to is a group of underground graffiti artists in Oklahoma City, and the "something" is "Made You Look 2008," a citywide graffiti art show that will take place 7 p.m. Saturday at the Individual Artists of Oklahoma gallery, 811 N. Broadway.

Hundreds of visitors attended last year's premiere show at the Electric Chair Gallery to buy and sell the colorful artwork or to get a feel for what graffiti art is all about.

"Anytime you see graffiti on the news, it's always something negative," event coordinator Nick Samsel said. "But we want to do this to shine a positive light on our culture."

More than 50 talented graffiti artists hailing from Oklahoma, or with some connection to the state, will participate in Saturday's show. Artwork will entertain the eyes, but "Made You Look 2008" will be a full-body experience, Samsel said. Break-dancers and local rappers will keep the feet and ears busy, and alcohol will keep those over 21 occupied.

Visitors will also have a chance to play with spray on several blank 4-by-8-foot panels scattered throughout the gallery, inviting anyone to try their hand at the urban art. 

Kris Kanaly, a metro graffiti artist, said he looks forward to the shows, because without them, there aren't any outlets for his kind in the state.

"A lot of cities are embracing the art, like Dallas, Houston and Kansas City, where they have sanctioned areas for artists to paint legally," Kanaly said. "But OKC is anti-spray paint."

Kanaly remembers a time when the owner of a convenience store in the Paseo Arts District gave graffiti artists permission to create a mural on his building.

"It was beautiful, and very fitting. Then the city came along and buffed it out, without even asking the owner," he said. "That really sent a message to all of us, like, 'We don't recognize your art as an art form because you use spray cans.' But would they have said the same thing if we used brushes? No."

Kanaly, Samsel and Entaker all said they hope the event will open eyes and minds, and bring the city's most talented graffiti artists together to show Oklahoma City what graffiti art is all about.

"It's here in Oklahoma City, and it's here to stay," Entaker said. "We're not going anywhere."  "?Lauren Parajon


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