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JoJo — who is known by only that name — became enamored with the graffiti he’d see on freeways while growing up in Southern California.
“It left an indelible image in my brain,” he said, “something that I just knew was going to be part of my life, but I didn’t know how or what.”
After moving to Minneapolis in high school, JoJo set about making his mark, taking advantage of the sparse graffiti in the city at the time. Now he is one of the most prominent graffiti artists in the Midwest.
“We have this ideology that the world would be better with artwork and that public property should be allowed to be used by people in the public,” JoJo said.
He’s done illegal graffiti, but now focuses on community engagement. His company, Murals by Eros, designs art in graffiti styles. He’s started the Graffiti Art Mentorship and Education program (The G.A.M.E.) at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis.
He defines destructive graffiti as that “done with the absolute disregard of the property of an owner or the people in an area.” Private property, vehicles and small businesses should be off-limits, he said.
But much of the art in Minneapolis — 60 to 70 percent, he said — is artistic graffiti.
He does not believe that graffiti in Minneapolis is in decline. There are more graffiti artists in the city than ever before, he said. He attributes the decline in reported incidents to changing views.
“I think what’s happened is there’s been a shift of the idea of what is good graffiti art in the culture,” he said, “and I think people have kind of grown to this idea that you get a lot more recognition for positive murals than you do with tagging.”
Beena Raghavendran • 612-673-4649