By Nimra Haroon
Graffiti. This disruptive, colorful, and self-boasting style of popular art has permeated walls for centuries, including in Houston. Modern graffiti has been around since the 1960s when gangs or “crews” created social order with preservation of writing and began spray painting names and messages on walls, as expressions of protest, violence, or leisure. Undoubtedly graffiti has become a more mainstream and accepted artistic style through its appearance on clothing, advertisements, music covers, computer font styles, public art murals, and more. Much of Houston’s graffiti scene corresponds with the rise of the hip hop scene, as rappers like Bun B, Slim Thug, and others have spotlighted local graffiti artists and represented their artwork in music videos and album covers.
Houston has a shorter, less documented graffiti history than cities like Philadelphia and New York City that pioneered the movement. Nevertheless, Houston maintains a unique collection of events that have paved the way of graffiti’s success. In 1979 Edie Scott and Scott Prescott formed a group known as the Urban Animals that was notorious for its graffiti art, bar-hopping, crosstown skating, parking garage surfing, and roller hockey. Art Car Parade photographer George Hixson remembered the first time he saw them, when, from around a corner, they suddenly appeared on roller skates, a “wild and fascinating collection of artists and other art-inclined people.” The group reached its high point in the late 1980s with several hundred members. The group consisted of lawyers, electricians, dancers, bartenders, filmmakers, artists, and a Harris County deputy. Although famous for its rebellious behavior, the Urban Animals group was unique for its charitable efforts in the community.