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Cuts like a Saber
In the world of graffiti, Saber is the stuff of legend — the guy who painted a football-field-sized graffiti piece on the bank of the L.A. River. The thing is huge, totally visible in satellite photos from space.
So, yeah, the dude's got stories to tell.
Like how he spent 35 nights working on the L.A. River piece, lugging 5-gallon buckets of paint over razor-wired fence. How the first night was a bust, left him covered in dried blood and river sludge, hiding from the cops in his friend's van.
How he decided to go back.
"The stories have been turned over and over, almost like a game of telephone," says Roger Gastman, who worked with Saber to publish "Saber: Mad Society," a collection of stories and pictures of his graffiti and fine artwork. Saber will be signing copies of the book from 5 to 7 p.m., Saturday at FTK's, Fresno location, 5048 N. Blackstone Ave.
At a certain point the stories become part of the art, Saber says.
"It's not about the painting. It's about the experiences."
Those experiences, those two dozen or so stories he spent a month putting into words and down on paper, make "Saber: Mad Society" more than a simple graffiti book — and there are lots out there, Gastman says.
You see, things have changed in the world of graffiti.
There are still those who say graffiti is vandalism, not art, that those who do it are street thugs, not artists. But people's attitudes toward the art has changed.
"There was a time when I wouldn't be talking to you," says Saber, who just held his first solo exhibition, "Close Encounters," at White Walls Gallery in San Francisco.
He wouldn't talk to anyone outside graffiti about graffiti. He couldn't.
Now, he's taking calls from the press.
His Seventh Letter crew recently made the cover of LA Weekly.
The art magazine Juxtopoz dedicated an entire issue to the crew.
And he could get political with it, argue the point, but it won't change the fact that graffiti is what it is — an untapped recource. Because, as his stories prove, graffiti ain't easy. It takes energy, manpower.
"Graffiti is not a sport an art student can just pick up and go decide to play," Gastman says.
And these kids, the bored ones, are hungry to do something pro-active for themselves and that can be powerful stuff.
"It's about these kids trying to find themselves and look past that struggle," Saber says.