The Writing on the WallOct 25th, 2012 | By Charles Wood | Category: Entertainment
New York Pizza, a pizzeria and bar located on Tate Street, has kept the same paint job for most of the 25 years it’s been in business. Eric Moss, local artist and NYP’s own bar tender extraordinaire, has changed all that. Moss started by painting its drink specials in brightly colored and intricate graffiti styled lettering on the interior wall adjacent to the bar. Stencils of pop culture icons, such as Jay Z and Frank Sinatra, were then plastered along the same wall.
Moss then moved on to revamp the exterior. The once rust-colored wall behind the patio exploded into a kaleidoscope of color. Ever square inch was covered with geometric shapes and psychedelic patterns.
The partial image of a five-fingered fist clutching a peyote button, the symbol of gonzo journalism, was painted along one end; the wall and halloween-themed paintings of malevolent pumpkins adorned the other.
The logo for the sensational and sinful film The Gospel According to Booze, Bullets, and Hot Pink Jesus was dotted upon the surface of the patio. That cinematic masterpiece was the deranged mind child of local film maker, and part time diablo, Jaysen Buterin. The logo features the pink outline of the titular pink Messiah with arms outstretched and a six shooter in each hand.
Moss’s didn’t stop there. He painted over the napkin holders with the frenzy as the interior and exterior walls. I recently met up with Eric at NYP over a pitcher of beer to interview him about his various art projects over the years.
A lot of your drawings seem to be heavily influenced by graffiti . Which came first, traditional artwork or graffiti?
It was probably more graffiti in the beginning. In school I took normal art classes and had to participate. I was just committed once I got into graffiti and had to continue and not stop. Traditional art, it’s not like I’m not into it, it’s just not as interesting to me.
What would be the main difference between graffiti on the street versus on a traditional canvas?
Risk would be the difference, and the audience is definitely different. The aesthetic and quality of work are the same. Maybe a little bit more thought goes into it (traditional painting). With street art I make it more mixed media, found object. It opens up a lot more surface mediums. The audience for the street (art) is kind of everybody but not everybody is aware of what’s going on around them.
Kind of subliminal?
Well, yeah. Even if I’m driving around I can pick out a tag I like but, if I ask somebody else about it, they may not have seen it all, they weren’t paying attention. I hone in on that stuff now, I don’t miss it. Even walking down Tate Street now I know what is new and what is the same.
Do you think that adds something to the subculture, of seeing things other people don’t? Of being “in the know”?
Yeah, totally. Being aware, being able to decipher tags or scrawls on the wall. You have people stapling positive quotes on street posts and people tagging a bathroom or putting up a sticker there. You might not have ever met the person before in you life but you’re like, “oh, wow,that’s cool!”.Circles complete all the time. You might meet that person six years later and be like, “oh, that was you? I remember seeing your stuff back in the day in Tennessee and now you’re here.” It (graffiti) travels, it travels well. It builds a strong community. Once you paint with somebody you meet, another artist, it opens up a gate to their world and their environment. They’re always welcoming to have guests in their area. That kind of network is fucking awesome.
What is the Greensboro graffiti scene like?
Greensboro is getting a clue about it. The city spent a bunch of money to paint up the underpass on Spring Garden, they brought in artists from Miami to do it. A lot of people hate on Greensboro, they say nothing’s going on. You have to have something in somebody’s face and show them what there is to do. I am proud to be living in Greensboro. I’ve been here for 13 years and I don’t hate it. I would like to see it progress though.
What have you been up to lately, art wise?
I’m doing more stenciling now. I’m also doing photo-realistic portraits using multiple layers of stencils. Mostly, I’m trying to differentiate myself from other artists.
What’s it like to have your work on display (at New York Pizza) and to be able to say, “Hey! This is my stuff” as opposed to your street art which you’re necessarily able to claim for legal reasons.
It’s really nice, it’s awesome. The freedom I get here is great. There’s not a long waiting list to hang art here. Whoever is motivated, whoever has a body of work to be displayed, is more than welcome. Working here (at NYP) gives me a say in what goes up and what doesn’t. I was really excited to get Tom’s work up here (Tom’s painting currently adorn the wall inside NYP) who painted them live at festivals around the country. One of them I was painting live with him at a Diesel Boy show at The Warehouse. I sold all the pieces I had up here. I do wish there was more local involvement. Maybe I should put some fliers up around campus to get some art students interested.
You mentioned you did a live painting with Diesel Boy. What other events have you done?
I painted live at Solaris multiple times. I had about nine pieces collected from that. I was invited to do a show at the EUC on UNCG’s campus that was a collection of live paintings I’ve done. I ended painting with a rockabilly Hawaiian band. It was a married couple. It was the first time I sat down and painted on a small canvas. It was different, pretty fun. They had just gotten married so when I got done with that painting I gave it to them as a thank you and parting gift. I painted with Eric “Daily Planet” Murphy. I’ve painted with a couple bands throughout Greensboro, some DJ’s. I went to Boston in June and participated in my friends show.
What current projects are you working on?
I’m finishing up painting the wall outside NYP as well as revamping the inside as well.
Music seems to play a big role in your art. What have you’ve been listening to lately?
I’ve been listening to an array of music. Eric’s new album, Talking Dead,is great. I’m a fan of Lorenzo Hall’s album Fear the West. I’m actually doing the album art for that.