A multi-media tribute to 36 Chambers and more
If by some chance, 15 years from now, an independent local gallery decides to have an Odd Future-inspired art exhibition, that might convince me that the current hype and Wu-Tang comparisons swirling around the hell-raising California hip-hop collective are deserved. Until then, Wu-Tang remains triumphant.
For Alvin Acoma Colon and other members of his generation, the emergence of RZA, GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Method Man and the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan in the early ‘90s represented hip-hop at its most urgent and dynamic stage of development. The 29 year-old artist and Roxbury native, who presents Wu-Tang at the Gallery at his Acoma Gallery space in Sullivan Square this Saturday, was a graffiti-obsessed 12 year-old kid when the group’s debut LP Enter the Wu-Tang dropped in 1993, and his passion for art and hip-hop hasn’t waned in the nearly two decades since.
“Wu-Tang wasn’t just a hip-hop group,” explains Colon, who created the gallery space two years ago. “Wu-Tang was a movement.
It wasn’t something that just hip-hop artists or rap artists listen to. You got skateboarder kids, rock and roll fans, even other bands that wear Wu-Tang gear on stage when they are performing. During the time that I was growing up, what I was playing on my headphones when I was tagging up was Wu-Tang.”
Aside from the music, Wu-Tang’s visual aesthetic was a key aspect of their success. From the iconic “W” logo to the brilliant cover art on albums like ODB’s Return to the 36 Chambers and most notably GZA’s Liquid Swords (designed by DC Comics chief artist Denys Cowan), the group has developed a well-defined stylistic identity.
“I don’t know any other music that has me or my friends asking: ‘Where did they get that idea from?’” said Mark Quintanilla (aka Chepe Lena), who will display some acrylic and digital artwork at the Gallery, including the Ghostface-inspired “Cherchez La Chepe” (pictured). He fondly remembers blasting Enter the Wu-Tang out his speakers in Jamaica Plain’s Mozart Park as a kid growing up.
“When you’re into graffiti it’s hard not to be influenced by stuff that captivates your mind and ear and your heart, and part of that was Wu-Tang.”
It’s not quite Mozart Park, but you can expect the familiar sounds of neck-snapping drums and dusty, poorly dubbed kung-fu flicks to pour out of Acoma Gallery on Saturday. The comfortable, unpretentious gallery—a large and inviting space stocked with a foosball table, performance stage and big comfy couches for lounging—is the natural location for such an event, which will include works by artists such as Amuse, H.R.O. and others, plus musical performances and DJs spinning Wu classics all night. Vocalist Tekitha, the haunting voice behind “Impossible” and other tracks, is also rumored to be making an appearance.
“I wanted to pay homage and show my gratitude to Wu-Tang for helping me grow up with this art,” said Colon. “With that said, I can only imagine how many other kids can relate to that.”
FEATURING AMUSE, CHEPELENA
BECKY SMALL, ACOMA,
HANS 1, RAODEEREKLOOS,
BARRINGTON EDWARDS AND H.R.O
OPENING SAT 6.18.11
UNTIL MON 7.18.11
ACOMA ART GALLERY
24 SPICE ST.
8PM/21+/$10; $5 WITH WU-TANG APPAREL