Off The Wall

A tagger gone legit struggles to pay for his past art sins

"That's the way real artists are," Campagna says. "They help each other." But it's a delicate balance for Campagna, who says he "doesn't want to be known as the graffiti tag artists' best friend." He has to stay respectable with "the establishment" as well. But he doesn't like it when underground artists aren't given the respect he thinks they deserve.

"The fine art world is so isolated and stuck on itself that no artist stands a chance unless they're willing to kiss ass," Campagna says. Soft-spoken and oozing boyish charm, it's hard to imagine Tony Bones not sweet-talking even the most stuffy of gallery owners into putting his work on display. Even for all the trouble it's caused him, Bones looks back on his graffiti days fondly.

"[Graffiti] reminds people there's life in the city," Bones says, "not just ads and commercialism." Bones only spent one day in jail—he didn't even get a jumpsuit, he jokingly laments—but the experience taught him a lesson and forced him to concentrate solely on creating legal art. The Kettle benefit, which features donated work for sale by Guy Reynolds, Mark Nelson and Kate Mackley in addition to Campagna and Garcia, will be held all evening this Saturday, December 2, at the gallery on Elm Street.

Reformed graffiti artist Tony Bones is going legit with a little help from his friends.
Reformed graffiti artist Tony Bones is going legit with a little help from his friends.

Lest any admirers get the wrong idea about being bailed out by benevolent mentors, Bones laughingly insists: "Stay in school, kids. Go to church!"

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