Volume 76, Number 22 | October 18 - 24, 2006

“I like to juxtapose psychedelic and street,” says Aaron Lazansky-Oliva.

Graffiti artist Spaze Crafte One, ready for lift off

By Rachel Fershleiser

Aaron Lazansky-Oliva — a.k.a. Spaze Crafte One and SC1 ­— has about as many monikers as he does areas of expertise. The graffiti and urban artist is also a painter, product designer, comic strip author, webmaster, electronic musician, breakdancer, and jewelry-maker. And in his spare time, he’s a dedicated educator, bringing hip-hop arts to eager schoolchildren. His aim, he says, is to fill the gap in the interrelated worlds of fashion, street art, fine art, electronic music, and urban media literacy. An exhibit of SC1’s works on canvas will open this week at King Size, a Lower East Side bar where former English teacher and graffiti-enthusiast Lois Stavsky curates urban art. The vibrant show explores the borders between abstract and figurative, innocent and sophisticated, primitive and modern, and will open this Thursday, October 19th at 7pm with a reception and, of course, DJs spinning.

How did this exhibit come about?

I was sharing a booth at Comicon with some friends. I couldn’t be there because I had to work one day, and I was bummed because I was missing all the press and toy designers and stuff. Lois happened to walk by our booth, all the way in the back, and looked at the portfolio I’d left. She kind of fell in love with my work; she was curating a group show and I was a part of that. And we developed a good relationship.

What’s the idea behind the pieces selected for this show?

The concept is Hard Rockz ‘N’ Cotton Candy, which comes from a comic book I created in 1996. I grew up a comic lover, and later I came to admire comic artists who broke down text and typography into abstract art. It’s a predecessor to graffiti letters. This show is a revisiting of works from the last three years. I like to juxtapose psychedelic and street, add multiple meanings and symbolism.

How do you see the relationship between graffiti and fine art?

It’s all the same. You can compare the vibration of the graffiti artist with the frenetic action of Jackson Pollock. It’s an art form that grew, like many do, out of a situation—we learned from ourselves and each other.

And now kids are learning from you?

I’ve been an arts educator for over ten years in New York City public schools and all over the world. Tagging was about naming, recognition, and fame. I’m interested in connecting with kids at an early age. It’s like I tag on their minds and hearts.

What do you tell them about illegal graffiti?

In life, what’s going to benefit you? I don’t advocate graffiti per se. I let kids make educated decisions. Would you rather use your resources wisely? You can make artwork that will get you all over the world — album covers for example. I try to take the primal creative urge and turn it around and nurture it.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Manhattan, and I’m a lifelong resident of the Lincoln Center area. It was a big influence in terms of creative output and culture.

Hard Rockz ‘N’ Cotton Candy, a solo exhibit by Aaron Lazansky-Oliva a.k.a Spaze Crafte One, runs from October 19 – December 3 at King Size, 21 Essex Street between Hester and Canal. Lazansky-Oliva’s website is www.sohnup.com.

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