The mighty MSG Crew are a band of spraycan warriors so notorious their crew name rings bells from Budapest to the gates of hell, and their battle-scarred fists serve testament to a baptism by concrete, paint, and razorwire. Their souls, however, are free as aerosol blasting from a new can.
They have been active in painting every inch of surface in Miami-Dade since the early '90s, and more recently they've been adopted as cultural icons by the likes of HistoryMiami.
Now the whole crew is rocking "Greatly Exaggerated," the inaugural exhibition celebrating the opening of Vice Gallery in Wynwood, a space dedicated to supporting the advancement of urban and street art on an international level. We spoke with co-curator Omar Khan about the show, MSG's roots, and how the bombing boys have evolved as artists over the years.
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New Times: How did this all come about?
Omar Khan: Well, MSG Crome is my brother and basically I started the crew with him 20 years ago. I'm the Creative Director at Metro Signs, the owner of the gallery is a friend of mine, and a big fan of graff, and because there are so many artists in the crew, it's easier for me to curate so that there's not a lot of drama. They all wanted me to do it.
What's behind the name of the show?
"Greatly Exaggerated" was my idea. People don't realize that the crew is so big, or that because they're older now that they still do art, but that they're not 16 years old anymore and can't just go bombing all day. They all paint, they just did a big wall on I-95. So this is to show that the crew is still strong, any claims otherwise are greatly exaggerated.
Any concept behind what work is up and why?
I wanted it to be like a retrospective, but also show that they're real artists, not just graffiti artists. They have those elements, but it's an evolution. They can keep doing it for free on the streets, but they all wanna make money off of it, too.
How has that evolution affected street art?
Now it's a positive. It was crazy before, but it's so accepted now. It's easier for them to come out of the shadows to where they're not really worried about getting in trouble. They can put their pics up with their faces. It's a lot more mainstream.