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Graffiti Artists Go Mainstream for a Night

Cellar wine bar showcases the work of several spray-paint artists.

Inside , the smell of fine wine and cheese mingled with Halloween costumes and jazz piano tunes Sunday evening. But behind the building, the scent of spray paint wafted through a live graffiti art show, which featured Joseph “Cal Vyrus” Calvert, 29, and “Bandit,” who would not reveal his identity.

“We got to know one of the artists and he is a neat human being,” said Cellar owner Dawn Mednick. “He’s chosen this format to show his artwork, which is a little unconventional, and I just thought it might be neat for him to get a little mainstream, [and] start to educate people so they don’t see it as traditional graffiti, but maybe more like street art.”

Bandit has been notorious in San Clemente and Laguna Beach for his unique but illegal graffiti, which often depicts a skull with a Native American headdress.

“I started painting Native Americans even before I started doing street art,” said Bandit. “They were the first people on our land and we kind of kicked them out, so I guess I’m bringing them back on the street somehow.”

His spray-paint art, which takes two to 15 minutes to produce and has appeared on walls, light posts and signs, does not contain negative messages and is not affiliated with any gangs, Bandit said.

“I’m solo, I don’t go out with any other street artists,” he said. “I consider myself a street artist, not a graffiti writer, but I’m trying to change my direction and start doing more installation pieces where it’s not considered vandalism.”

But he said it's hard to resist the adrenaline rush and lure of so many blank canvases around town.

“I see a blank wall and I want to put some art on it and make it look better,” said Bandit. “No one wants to look at a white wall all the time.”

Local graffiti artist “Cal Vyrus” said he used to do “street art,” but now saves his graffiti for live shows.

“I’m 29 years old and I’ve been there, done that 15 years ago,” said Calvert. “I like to keep it legal so there’s no problems. I spent eight years of my life in prison, so I really don’t want to deal with all that.”

PK October 31, 2011 at 08:49 PM
yo bandit.. you owe me 50 bucks for that tag you left on my fence. wtf.

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