On January 25, Jose Venegas finished painting a mural titled Alphabetic Evolution at the juvenile office of the district attorney, located at Meadow Lark Drive, northeast from 163 and Genesee.
“This 15-foot painting represents the bridge that connects the transition of script lettering to graffiti writing, as an art form,” Venegas said. “The progression of typography styles in the United States, from the Declaration of Independence to the iconic font of the New York Times newspaper, and eventually to the side of subway trains in New York City — is the story of letters.”
Venegas is the current manager and part-founder of Writerz Block, a 10,000 sq./ft legal-graffiti-yard located in Lincoln Park. He is a resident artist of the San Diego Cultural Arts Alliance, which tries to redirect troubled youth.
Venegas has been spray painting murals since the 1990s.
“The alphabet consists of 26 characters each one with its unique flow and structure,” Venegas said. “Along the years, these characters began to evolve in different fonts and styles created by the graffiti writer. I created this painting to represent the visual transformation."
The arts alliance says that the DA’s office commissioned the piece as part of its ongoing efforts to promote programs, such as ‘Graffiti Hurts.’
“Growing up in an environment that was surrounded by gangs, drugs and violence — as a Hispanic male in the 90s,” says Venegas, “this was my daily challenge." Venegas started doodling in his third grade math book which then lead to a tag on the side of a building, and then a throw-up on a freeway wall.
In 2003, Venegas and Sergio Gonzalez helped bring the Writerz Blok to fruition. This was “one of the nation’s first public graffiti art parks” located on Market Street about three blocks west of Euclid. When kids were caught tagging, some police officers would bring them to the graffiti-yard as a “first chance” or a “get-out-of-jail-free card,” Gonzalez said in a previous Reader interview.
“The Alphabetic Evolution [mural] represents the struggle and accomplishments of a teenager,” Venegas said, “who at some point needed direction and words of wisdom.”