Rapping, break-dancing, DJ-ing and graffiti art are disparate art forms, and those who tag buildings, bridges and mailboxes are simply miscreants and gang members looking to leave their mark.
Those are two common misconceptions about the hip-hop culture, said renowned Minneapolis graffiti artist and muralist Peyton Scott Russell, who goes simply by his first name. In reality, hip-hop includes all four components, and has devotees of all ages and ethnicities who engage in the art form that got started in urban centers and became a global phenomenon.
"It's really a misunderstood culture, yet we are bombarded with it daily," said Scott Zahren, who is organizing Saturday's inaugural Paint on the Water, a festival in Stillwater's Pioneer Park designed to introduce hip-hop to the St. Croix Valley. "Let's bring this method of communicating to the public to let them see it for what it is and not what they think."
To set the record straight, Zahren and Peyton have secured top talent from the Twin Cities area and throughout the nation who will demonstrate their craft between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Festivities include a performance by Ill Chemistry, live spray can artists East and Eros in action, three-person b-boy and b-girl competitions (what's better known as break-dancing), DJs Task Rock and Kook Hanz, and aerosol art.
Hip-hop parties were common in the 1980s, but over the years each genre drifted away from the others elements, Peyton said. Rap gained a large following because of its presence on the radio. DJs announced the music while break-dancers did their thing. Skateboarders, punk rockers and heavy metal cultures took to graffiti art. Saturday's festival is designed to showcase all elements of hip-hop and provide education and information about hip-hop culture, and for the uninitiated dispel the mystery and fear that surround it.
"Hip-hop has permeated most communities, and many have been exposed to it, but not everybody has experienced it first hand or have seen all the elements," Peyton said. "We will have printed information to spell out what each part it is."
Peyton, whose latest mural is on the Asian Media Access building at Sheridan and Plymouth Avenues north in Minneapolis, has won several grants over the years and gives seminars on graffiti art. He's spoken at high schools in Hudson and Stillwater about how it's being used in advertising and marketing, and how it's increasingly being used to create museum quality fine art. He also points out that tagging private property is strictly off limits.
"There is a code of ethics most of us have," Peyton said.
Tim Harlow • 651-925-5039