Graffiti art may be selling, but it has yet to be widely accepted as a legitimate movement that will stand the test of time. Overtly subversive and a bit shrill, graffiti exists in the art world like a witty wino at a debutante ball; he may be the most stylish dancer at the party, but as the hired help empties the ashtrays at evening's end, the founding fathers are apt to sniff, "Yes, but he's not really one of us."
New York artist Fred Brathwaite (also known by his nom de graffiti, Fab Five Freddy) was one of the first graffiti artists to achieve notoriety, having been immortalized in Blondie's ground-breaking crossover rap hit, "Rapture." That was five years ago, and heaven knows how many cocktail parties Brathwaite has endured in the interim. Being courted by the rich and famous is no doubt a heady experience, and it must be difficult for an artist to resist becoming a mirror image of his patrons. In light of all that, Brathwaite should be commended for managing to keep the teeth in his work. Sure, his pictures are brightly colored and collectible, but they're also about as friendly as a clenched fist.