RIFF 170- "RIFF" on Paper

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RIFF 170- "RIFF" Ink and marker on Paper. Measures 11"x 8.5".


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.


Riff grew up one of ten children in The Bronx just north of Yankee Stadium. He met  Chris 170 and Bonanza two brothers who were experienced writers in 1972 in his neighborhood. They showed Riff where the lay-ups were and he started hitting the insides of the trains. This was the signature era when handwriting counted for everything. Riff made his tags elegant and ubiquitous and his work caught the eye of the legendary Phase 2 who would take the younger Riff under his mighty stylistic wing. By 1973 Riff became a force to be reckoned with. Signatures blossomed into pieces and Riff's style progressed light years ahead of his peers. One name wasn't enough for Riff who sought complete alphabet domination. He rocked the trains with a multitude of colorful aliases:WORM161, Mr. 6, Conan ,Crunch, Cash, Flip, Real, Peal, Mr. Dirt, Boy 170, 2Bad, As 2 and Dove 2 to name a few of them. He is known as the father of mechanical lettering and was the inventor of almost as many designs as he had names. Today , 33 years after Riff retired, it is virtually impossible to find a graffiti recipe without one of his ingredients in it.









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