Gordon Wayne Roberts created the tag Stay High 149, combined it with a smoking, halo-adorned stick man he borrowed from The Saint television show and changed the face of graffiti. It's hard to imagine a trip through the subway system in early 70's without seeing his name a dozen times. Changing to his secondary alias, voice of the ghetto, around 1974 , ,he introduced the world to two and three toned markers that spewed rainbows of psychedelic cool. After a 25 year disappearance , a time during which many assumed him dead, he reappeared at a graff show in 2000 and soon launched a comeback that gave a new generation a chance to know and love his work. His tags had the rarest combination of style and meaning I've ever witnessed . High Maintenance is about paying back one of the most inspirational , yet humble cats to ever wield a marker. His spirit and legacy has touched every era of a culture that's blown up world wide. The artists who so generously donated their work for this benefit are giving their collective thanks to a man who transcended graffiti culture and in time be remembered as an American Folk Hero. All net proceeds from this sale will go to Stayhigh's Family.
To call WON ABC ( Art Bombing Clan ) a graffiti artist simply isn't fair. He is – in no particular order – an illustrator, an artist, a graffiti muralist and a social commentator. His roots are in the German train painting scene of the mid-80's where one of his most iconic images was a train painted as a dragon. He continued to bomb through the 90's painting walls around the world. WON decided very early on that he could not be co-opted and most of his public paintings have been for community's of people he enjoys. He's painted in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Jamaica, Belize and Cuba, when he's happy and turned on by the people he leaves a painting behind, done with paint that he's happily paid for. He could easily have a sponsor for these types of things, but then that would dilute the message "What you give is yours forever, what you keep is lost forever."
As good as WON is technically his concepts are what set him apart. In a recent painting of Tupac his portrait is seen staring at us from the side of an American dollar bill that's filled with hip hop iconography from guns to mics. Many other writers with this technical ability would've done the portrait with a nicely lettered name, that's no longer enough for WON. If the envelope's not pushed it's not worth his time.