Girafa Endures

Happened across this faded Girafa sticker in the Tenderloin. It reminded me of the whole case of Girafa, who was the Bay Area’s most prolific street artist before his arrest in 2009. You can read about his case here.

This one’s by the railroad tracks in San Jose. His motto is ‘Long Neck 4 Life’. There’s a website by the same name, which has Girafa-like graphics. You know how things go on the internet, it may or may not be the actual artist.

His work takes many shapes, as you can see on Flickr. This one appears to be dated ’97.

This one’s from ’07. I thought of a movie script idea: obsessive graffiti artist, working a day job, going out late at night to paint, traveling far afield to spread his art. A parallel plot: handsome young blogger, compelled to document the artist’s work, maybe trying to find and interview him. Have your people talk to my people.

Here you can see a Girafa in the background of Discovery Channel’s ‘Mythbusters’ television show.

In January Girafa had a show in a gallery in San Jose. His real name is Steven Free. He seems to have kept his mask on for this appearance.

I hope his legal troubles are resolved in a reasonable manner, and he goes on to success in the art world. He probably does better work when he doesn’t have to constantly look over his shoulder. But there’s something about the compulsive, wild, underground aspect of his former career- a unique context for his art to exist in. Rock on, Girafa.

(Thanks to the Facebook group Free Girafa for the last two photos.)

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