The Things You Can Learn About Boxcar Graffiti Art
The arts scene in White River Junction is a moveable feast. From Tip Top Pottery to productions at Northern Stage, the Center for Cartoon Studies to belly-dancing at Raq-On Dance, you can go virtually anywhere in the village and brush up against some form of creative expression.
Not to be overlooked as they, too, move through town, the train boxcars make their own artful contribution. Sometimes the graffiti makes for no more (and no less) than a pleasantly edgy backdrop of bright colors and bubble letters as you stroll Main Street or sit at your desk facing the tracks.
Not infrequently, though, a tag really catches your eye. And you go to the window and take a picture of it.
I have to be careful how I say this. I admire the hell out of this piece of work. The Big Bad Wolf is appropriately menacing and hews close enough to Disney's take on the storybook beast. At first glance, the lettering (i.e. the graffiti artist's signature) isn't noteworthy—not until you home in on the detail, the layering of colors and textures within and around the letters. And then you have to step back and think, "How quickly did this person have to work to make this, to escape being caught?"
I'm careful to admire that kind of lawless efficiency, precisely because it's, you know, against the law. But as usual, my curiosity runs deeper than my moral fiber. Because I had to know more about this piece of work, who might've made it, and where. So I got to googling.
Look in the upper left corner of the boxcar and see it says "Motor City Wolf Pack." Okay, let's google that. A top result is this webpage in an arts magazine called Juxtapoz, which has a whole section devoted to street art. And suddenly it's clear we're dealing with a known quantity in the graffiti world, at least according to the caption under the magazine's photo of the boxcar:
Based on the tags, we’re going to assume that Wyse is responsible for this exceptionally radical D30 wholecar with a hat wearing wolf character. Super official.
All right, so who is "Wyse" and what is "D30?" More digging and it turns out: Wyse is a member of the Dirty Thirty (D30) Crew, a rather notorious underground graffiti collective. A few years ago, the man who goes by Wyse was arrested, convicted on vandalism charges, and spent a year in jail.
This video follows a few of the faceless crew on a tagging mission through Chicago:
So yeah, it's complicated. But there are worse rabbit holes to go down, and if you're like me, you head to D30's Flickr page and continue your swift descent.