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Thursday, Oct. 19, 2006

"Letters First"

Space Edge
October 20 & 21

Presented by street crew Seventh Letter and the Australian street label, Royal Elastics, Letters First (www.tkicorp.jp/lettersfirst/) presents the work of 43 graffiti artists. Taking place at Space Edge (Shibuya, 3-26-17, Nomura Building, 1F; free), each artist submitted a one-letter message.

News photo

The list of contributors is full of street-scene demigods, mostly from the United States, headlined by Chaz Bojorquez, who is known for his strong typography; spray painter Slick; Japanese underground talent Wanto; and Mr. Cartoon. One of the U.S.'s most highly regarded muralists, Cartoon is also a tattoo artist to the stars. His client list is a who's who of the hip-hop scene, having inked the likes of Eminem, 50 Cent and Beyonce.

Despite the Japanese street scene commonly being criticized for coming from a prosperous middle-class country that lacks the ghettos and social disparities to justify its existence, many street artists see this instead as a positive aspect of Japanese culture and are looking forward to the show.

Mr. Cartoon told The Japan Times at his LA studio that "Japan is able to take the beautiful part of the culture, the true artistic part. They look at American-Chicano culture, they are able to focus on the [car] paint jobs and the custom-car culture, to the apparel, to the fashion, to the art; they get the purest form. Yet they are able to live it without violence and prison."

This is the first Asia tour for the Seventh Letter crew, proving that nowadays, Japan is an important stop for these internationally renowned artists.

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