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Graffiti photo flashback: The reign of the TKO crew's KOZE

More photos below.
More photos below.

There have been a lot of changes in Denver's street-art scene over the past five years, as evidenced by the photos collected in our slide show "Tagging Up Denver."

Originally published in tandem with Jared Jacang Maher's 2009 feature "The Writing's on the Wall," about the arrest and conviction of Timothy Barajas, aka KOZE, the leader of Denver's TKO crew, the photos are a vivid reminder of the way things used to be. Check out the images below, complete with original 2009 cutlines. To read Maher's feature, click here.

See also: Photos: Denver's best street art as chosen by a graffiti-scene veteran, part one

"KOZE heads Denver's TKO crew. Originated in the mid-'90s by graffiti artist TOOMER in South Central Los Angeles, TKO now has roughly a thousand members in cities across the U.S., Europe and Mexico."
"KOZE heads Denver's TKO crew. Originated in the mid-'90s by graffiti artist TOOMER in South Central Los Angeles, TKO now has roughly a thousand members in cities across the U.S., Europe and Mexico."
Unknown
"Sometimes the buffing of regular graffiti targets can create some interesting patterns. The property owner of Zuni Plaza in the Highlands has taken the multi-color approach."
"Sometimes the buffing of regular graffiti targets can create some interesting patterns. The property owner of Zuni Plaza in the Highlands has taken the multi-color approach."
Unknown
"BUKET traveled from out of state just to paint Denver with fellow TKO members."
"BUKET traveled from out of state just to paint Denver with fellow TKO members."
Unknown
"'Someday that's me.' On the opposite wall, ERA spots a piece by EMIT. A member of RTD and DF crews, EMIT is known for his clean, east coast-influenced style."
"'Someday that's me.' On the opposite wall, ERA spots a piece by EMIT. A member of RTD and DF crews, EMIT is known for his clean, east coast-influenced style."
Unknown

Continue for more vintage photos and information about the reign of the TKO crew's KOZE.  

"'Get up and stay up.' ERA paints a quick piece at the ruins of the former Metropolitan Wastewater Facility in Globeville.
"'Get up and stay up.' ERA paints a quick piece at the ruins of the former Metropolitan Wastewater Facility in Globeville.
Unknown
"When Denver graffiti writer CRIMS got put on the roster of TKO in 2005, he had to explain the situation to his fellow members of Surenos, an LA street gang he'd joined as a teen. 'The way the gang looks at it is you claim one thing and that's it,' he says. 'But to me, I dont look at TKO as a gang. It's a graffiti crew.'"
"When Denver graffiti writer CRIMS got put on the roster of TKO in 2005, he had to explain the situation to his fellow members of Surenos, an LA street gang he'd joined as a teen. 'The way the gang looks at it is you claim one thing and that's it,' he says. 'But to me, I dont look at TKO as a gang. It's a graffiti crew.'"
Unknown
"The alleyway near 8th and Galapego Street has been Denver's most notorious graffiti spot since the mid-'90s. The corridor was operated as a 'legal wall' by artists granted permission to paint graffiti murals by the property owners. But as tagging and gang graffiti spread down through the alley, property owners bowed to pressure from the city last year to criminalize the walls once again."
"The alleyway near 8th and Galapego Street has been Denver's most notorious graffiti spot since the mid-'90s. The corridor was operated as a 'legal wall' by artists granted permission to paint graffiti murals by the property owners. But as tagging and gang graffiti spread down through the alley, property owners bowed to pressure from the city last year to criminalize the walls once again."
Unknown
"Still, it's possible to catch pieces by KOZE and other TKO members before the walls are buffed."
"Still, it's possible to catch pieces by KOZE and other TKO members before the walls are buffed."
Unknown

Continue for more vintage photos and information about the reign of the TKO crew's KOZE.  

"Though they too mark their turf with spray, street gangs like the Bloods or North Side Mafia (NSM) are not considered a part of graffiti culture."
"Though they too mark their turf with spray, street gangs like the Bloods or North Side Mafia (NSM) are not considered a part of graffiti culture."
Unknown
"Roll call! Local writers SWEK and JOLT can paint complex graffiti murals -- but they still hit public and private property with quick tags."
"Roll call! Local writers SWEK and JOLT can paint complex graffiti murals -- but they still hit public and private property with quick tags."
Unknown
"GATES is the only female graffiti writer in the SWS crew. She focuses on painting freight trains bound for Anytown, USA."
"GATES is the only female graffiti writer in the SWS crew. She focuses on painting freight trains bound for Anytown, USA."
Unknown
"'You go this way and we'll push them out that way.' On June 8, Officers Mike Felsoci and Sergeant Bob Motyka of the Denver Police SCAT unit hoped to trap taggers by sealing off two ends of a tunnel near downtown that had recently become filled with graffiti."
"'You go this way and we'll push them out that way.' On June 8, Officers Mike Felsoci and Sergeant Bob Motyka of the Denver Police SCAT unit hoped to trap taggers by sealing off two ends of a tunnel near downtown that had recently become filled with graffiti."
Unknown

Continue for more vintage photos and information about the reign of the TKO crew's KOZE.  

"'It's a lot of luck. It's a lot of being in the right place at the right time, sitting and watching the kids and them being a little lazy,' says Officer Felsoci. The taggers managed to slip away from the tunnel trap, but that night the District 1 SCAT unit managed to make three graffiti-related arrests."
"'It's a lot of luck. It's a lot of being in the right place at the right time, sitting and watching the kids and them being a little lazy,' says Officer Felsoci. The taggers managed to slip away from the tunnel trap, but that night the District 1 SCAT unit managed to make three graffiti-related arrests."
Unknown
"Guerilla Garden is a group that helps local graffiti writers get paid for their art legitimately, like at this event at the Winter X-games in Aspen."
"Guerilla Garden is a group that helps local graffiti writers get paid for their art legitimately, like at this event at the Winter X-games in Aspen."
Unknown
"JOLT, of KUV and LIFE crews, got this spot on the CHAC Gallery building on Santa Fe Drive."
"JOLT, of KUV and LIFE crews, got this spot on the CHAC Gallery building on Santa Fe Drive."
Unknown
"On December 17, Johnathan 'Roman' MacLagan was shot to death at a Littleton house party after breaking up a fight between rival members of the EMS and WKS tagbanger crews. The 20-year-old Kennedy High School grad 'was a peacemaker at heart,' says one of MacLagans friends. 'He wasn't down for fighting. He was a good homie like that.'"
"On December 17, Johnathan 'Roman' MacLagan was shot to death at a Littleton house party after breaking up a fight between rival members of the EMS and WKS tagbanger crews. The 20-year-old Kennedy High School grad 'was a peacemaker at heart,' says one of MacLagans friends. 'He wasn't down for fighting. He was a good homie like that.'"
Unknown

Continue for more vintage photos and information about the reign of the TKO crew's KOZE.  

"19-year-old David Miera Jr. was arrested 5 days later, by Jefferson County Sheriffs, for the shooting death of MacLagan. According to an arrest affidavit, Miera told police he and other EMS members became angry after not being admitted to a party at 8997 West Glasgow. As they left, Miera says he fired a shotgun from the back window of an SUV intending to hit 'Moke,' a member of WKS. Instead, the blast hit MacLagan in the head, killing him. 'It wasn't meant for Roman, it was meant for Moke,' Miera told investigators. He is currently awaiting a plea hearing."
"19-year-old David Miera Jr. was arrested 5 days later, by Jefferson County Sheriffs, for the shooting death of MacLagan. According to an arrest affidavit, Miera told police he and other EMS members became angry after not being admitted to a party at 8997 West Glasgow. As they left, Miera says he fired a shotgun from the back window of an SUV intending to hit 'Moke,' a member of WKS. Instead, the blast hit MacLagan in the head, killing him. 'It wasn't meant for Roman, it was meant for Moke,' Miera told investigators. He is currently awaiting a plea hearing."
Unknown
"Magnet Mafia specializes in painting on magnetic panels and sticking them around town."
"Magnet Mafia specializes in painting on magnetic panels and sticking them around town."
Unknown
"In early may, RTD crew members ACEE and TASTER got a piece of the former Rocky Mountain News building before it was torn down for the new county jail. ACEE says that writers often target buildings scheduled for demolition because they know that construction crews are not likely to buff the graffiti, allowing the names to run on the high-visibility spots for weeks or months."
"In early may, RTD crew members ACEE and TASTER got a piece of the former Rocky Mountain News building before it was torn down for the new county jail. ACEE says that writers often target buildings scheduled for demolition because they know that construction crews are not likely to buff the graffiti, allowing the names to run on the high-visibility spots for weeks or months."
Unknown
"Members of RTD crew paint a so-called 'legal wall.' RTD was invited by another crew, Tetra, who 'run' the wall behind a tattoo shop at 1332 East Colfax Avenue."
"Members of RTD crew paint a so-called 'legal wall.' RTD was invited by another crew, Tetra, who 'run' the wall behind a tattoo shop at 1332 East Colfax Avenue."
Unknown

Continue for more vintage photos and information about the reign of the TKO crew's KOZE.  

"SHEWP founded the RTD crew in 1991 while tagging city buses. The crew now has 80 members spread across 10 cities."
"SHEWP founded the RTD crew in 1991 while tagging city buses. The crew now has 80 members spread across 10 cities."
Unknown
"Tile art on the side of the Hi-Dive."
"Tile art on the side of the Hi-Dive."
Unknown
"Top-to-bottom TKO."
"Top-to-bottom TKO."
Unknown

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.


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