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The streets, the tracks, the growth of a community

By in Features


Graffiti is a transient form of art. It can be painted over. It can be washed away.

But for a crew of Saskatoon artists, graffiti is a way to immortalize their recently lost friend.

Spencer Robinson, known by his tag ACME, passed away on Sept. 3 in an accident on the train tracks where he was often found seeking inspiration for his art.

“His passing came maybe 60 years too early but nonetheless he was in a place that was comfortable to him…. He was very interested in train travel and the world of trains. It was a very peaceful place that he got a lot of his inspiration” from, creator and founder   of Saskatoon Community Youth Arts Programming Inc. Darrell Lechman said.

“Those trains will take your art places that you will never see,” fellow artist Darren Wolfe said. “People from across the country have seen our artwork because of where we’ve put it.”

Robinson was a prominent artist in Saskatoon and was known for his generosity and work in local exhibits. His contributions to various art shows in the city include graffiti as well as hand-painted peices.

SCYAP has dedicated its second annual graffiti show, titled “We Needi Graffiti,” to the artist.

Robinson was set to curate the exhibit and a number of his own works are on display in the show, which runs until Sept. 29.

“This whole art show is for him,” Danny Schoenfeld, a close friend of Robinson’s, said.

Schoenfeld has a few works featured in the SCYAP show and is glad to remember his friend through the gallery, but feels the best way to commemorate Robinson is through his art on the streets.

Schoenfeld recently rolled a wall on the north end of Avenue H with Robinson’s tag, ACME.

“ACME had the sickest hand styles I’ve ever seen and I’m going to really miss seeing them,” Schoenfeld said, adding that some of Robinson’s work can be found behind the SCYAP centre.

Schoenfeld also recently helped complete a work on a wall near the corner of Warman Road and 33rd St W. The eight-foot-tall concrete wall, which showcases the talents of various graffiti artists in the city, spans 175 feet.

The wall was built privately by property owner Ches Burns in order to combat the loud noise of traffic along the road. Each year for the past five years, Burns has commissioned a group of graffiti artists to paint the wall.

“It’s his wall and he can paint it how he wants,” Shaun Decae, a contributing artist to the wall, said. “We usually do it once a year so that each thing we do can run for a while.”

Decae described this year’s finished collaboration as a production line.

The artwork resembles “a factory,” Decae said. “There’s a conveyor belt and everybody’s got their graffiti pieces being built by different machinery, laser covers, painters, welders. Everything along the line is being built.”

This assembly line parallels the Saskatoon graffiti community. The community is a work in progress. It is always evolving.

“When we were growing up there was nobody to look up to. It was strictly the love of what we might be able to create that kept us influenced,” Wolfe, another contributor to the wall, said. “But now there’s a ton of kids, a ton of crews, a ton of talent in this city that I’d like to say I’m very proud to be a part of.”

Now aspiring graffiti artists in Saskatoon have a place to go and feel inspired— the SCYAP Art Centre and Gallery — and experienced artists such as Schoenfeld, Decae, Wolfe and Robinson to look up to.

Lechman said the “We Needi Graffiti” exhibit and others like it show the community that “graffiti has a place in the art world” and encourage talented artists to showcase their work in a professional environment.

The “We Needi Graffiti” art show runs until Sept. 29 at the SCYAP Art Centre and Gallery in Saskatoon.

Photos: Raisa Pezderic/The Sheaf,
Jenna Mann/The Sheaf, &
Linnea Bargen

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