Unlike the brutal and drawn-out battles common amongst opponents in politics and sports, rivalries in art tend to be less about victory and defeat as they are about playful competition among contemporaries. The dual exhibition showing at Indy Ink, 84 South Broadway, through March 6 titled Graves vs. Jive very much follows in this creative vein of friendly antagonism. In fact, despite being advertised as a face-off -- complete with a Warhol vs. Basquiat-inspired flyer displaying the two street artists in boxing attire -- the “vs.” might be more appropriately replaced with an “and” considering that the show is more a collaboration than a match up. Though the artists each display their individual pieces at Indy Ink, they also combined efforts on a number of joint ventures, combining Keith Jives’ fluid lettering and Mike Graves’ exaggerated creepy/cute creatures.
Since the bios Graves and Jive have written for themselves on Fighting Fifth website –- a online collective and retail space where the works of several street artists are sold -– offers little in the way any real insight into what drives these two to create and compete, Westword caught up with the two this week and put them through a grueling series of seven questions to see who would win if the rivalry were actually a cause of concern.
What is your background/training in art?
Jive: Self taught. 1 year at The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It didn't teach me much though so I left. I've been doing the "jive" thing since 1989. (god I feel old).
Graves: My background is pretty much self taught.I took a half a semester before I quit going to college.I have definitely been influenced by my friends Keith, Emit, Markhem Maes, Scot Lefavor.
What challenges do you find switching between a spray can and a paint brush?
Jive: Canvas size. Going from a 30-foot wall to a three-foot canvas is huge. A whole different world.
Graves: I kind have gone the other way, I started by painting and now I'm just learning how to use spray paint. It's a whole different medium for sure.
Who are your influences?
Jive: When painting, I am usually listening to music. I would say that music inspires me more than anything else. Maybe a beer.
Graves: Os Gemeos, Barry Mcgee, Doze Green, Phil Frost, Dali, Basquiat
Why make art?
Jive: I don't call it art. I just paint things.
Graves: It makes me happy.
How much of what you do is about competition and how much about self expression?
Jive: 0% competition. 110% self expression. I can't stand the politics and egos that pop up in the "art" world. They are a huge turnoff. I turn them into laughter.
Graves: It's all self expression. I just have to rub it in Keith's face that I'm better than he is.
If you were a boxer and this really was a VS match how would you taunt your opponent?
Jive: To quote Charles Bukowski, "Don't try."
Graves: I'd spank that ass!
What is your secret weapon/KO punch?
Jive: Taking a nice delicious nap.
Graves: Super ninja upper-cut!
WINNER: Too close to call. Get over to Indy Ink and judge for yourself.