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Balls to the Wall

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In an alley near Ninth Avenue and Sherman Street is a retaining wall known to local graffiti world as “the CIA wall.” The name, presumably, comes from the Colorado Institute of Art located across the street, though the school has no official connection to the spray can art that regularly appears at the spot. As a reliable legal painting location since the 90s, the CIA wall has been home to some of Colorado’s best graffiti murals and prompted a few drama-filled disputes between writers that almost blew up into full-on wars.

Earlier this year, for example, PREACH, the unpredictable leader of the AE crew, took serious offense when members of RTD, the city’s pre-eminent graf outfit, painted over a piece he had laid down only days before in honor of a deceased friend. Given the graffiti community’s complicated system of hierarchy and permissions, the fact of whether PREACH had the right to paint the wall in the first place has been the subject of much debate. Regardless, his reaction to the affront was to summon a back-up posse armed with guns and knives and confront Jher, an RTD journeyman, at the Denver tattoo shop where he inks.

Jher had no part in the offending paint-over, but he still chose to defuse the situation by extending a peace offering: some three dozen cans of spray paint. PREACH accepted the deal and the beef was thereby squashed before it started. Nothing in the ego-driven world of graffiti is ever forgotten, though. Some members of RTD still grumble about the incident, which, despite the practical outcome, some viewed as a display of acquiescence at one of the city’s most high-profile spots.

Luckily, every month we can all focus on something new at the CIA wall, like this fresh work by fresh face HOVER66. –Jared Jacang Maher

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