January 21, 2011

Back From Oblivion: Chaka Resurrected

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Cha-Kah from Land of the Lost

In the early 1990s, Daniel “Chaka” Ramos was one of the most prolific graffiti writers in Los Angeles. His block letter style tag (inspired by Cha-Kah from Land of the Lost), done almost exclusively in either black or silver spraypaint, was everywhere in L.A. and beyond. According to a 2009 Los Angeles Times article, Chaka’s approach to graffiti was workman-like, before he got caught up in legal troubles.

His MO, according to an account he gave police, was to work an 11 p.m.-to-5 a.m. shift, armed with black and silver spray paint — seven cans hidden in a backpack. By the mid-1990s he claimed he’d found religion and tried to translate his creative drive to legit wall murals. But further run-ins with the law ensued, and Ramos/Chaka last appeared in the pages of the Los Angeles Times in October 1998, when he was sentenced to 15 months in jail for stealing three pairs of Nike shoes from a Mervyn’s department store, violating his probation on previous offenses. (via Los Angeles Times)

A new documentary titled Chaka Resurrected (video above) looks at the artist’s work. But while the video promises to provide a “brief story about where he’s been and where he is,” it does little of either. We do learn that Chaka has been showing his work in small store front gallery spaces, but that’s about it. Like so many of the graffiti world’s once-prolific names, Chaka’s resurgence has been less than mesmerizing — proof that graffiti is best left in the street, where it is at its purest. TC mark

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