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Colin Dabkowski interviews Ian DeBeer and Max Collins

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ian DeBeer and Max Collins collaborate on new mural by Colin Dabkowski

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Earlier today, I caught up with Ian DeBeer and Max Collins, two of Buffalo's more active and visible street artists, to talk about a new collaborative piece they unveiled over the weekend. The work, sure to provoke strong reactions from the local art and graffiti communities as well as neighborhood residents, features a gargantuan DeBeer dressed in a Keith Haring jacket and scrawling his infamous tag "HERT" -- one of the city's most visible and widely despised tags -- across the side of a building at Elmwood Avenue and Breckenridge Street.

There's a whole lot going on in this piece. It comes across immdiately as an attempt by DeBeer, who not so long ago was released form prison after serving time for graffiti-related offenses, to declare his official arrival on Buffalo's art scene proper while simultaneously embracing his past as a tagger hated at home and celebrated by his national peers.

After completing a controversial mural dedicated to the comics artist Spain Rodriguez in Allentown earlier this year, DeBeer is out to prove he's legit. And he's borrowing some of that legitimacy from Collins, whose above-board commissions have been widely praised around the city. In turn, Collins gets to take a hit off of DeBeer's still-smoldering street cred, so it's a symbiosis that makes sense. And all of that is sure to encourage some, let's say, disparate opinions. In fact it seems explicitly designed to do just that.

Share your thoughts about the new piece and what the artists had to say about it in the comments.