Our Favorite Art Hobo Returns—and Demands Respect

He came. He dropped a mural. Graff writers and art kids loved it. Landlord and neighbors hated it. Mural went bye-bye. It was the stock, cliché, age-old story of Street of Art: the rapscallion painter versus the prudish property owner. And it must have made the protagonist—the prickly, foul-mouthed, train-hopping Deuce Seven—furious.

If you were hanging around the art scene at all in the spring of 2010, you’ll remember the kerfluffle kicked up by Deuce’s attempt to christen the then new home of the Cult Status gallery. A quick recap: Erin Sayer, founder of the gallery, fell in love with a Deuce painting beneath a Minneapolis bridge, hunted the artist down, and invited him to do a mural on the grody, graffiti-tagged south Minneapolis building. Landlord gave the okay. Then, a few days later, Landlord cited complaints from neighbors. Sayer begrudgingly painted over the mural. Mild uproar—and tired discussions over the nature of public space—ensued. You know the drill. So does Deuce.

Courtesy Cult Status

Ever since his stormy psychedelics, alien creatures, and razor-blade paint strokes blew up the Flickr-verse and catapulted him to notoriety in New York, Seattle, and the Bay Area, Deuce has been trying to leave the “street art” label behind. Never mind that he’s clung to the milieu’s most romantic criminal signifiers (the fake name, the hobo-esque train hopping, the kerchief masks). His paintings are unique, his talent undeniable; he knows it, and he’s ready for a bit more respect.

All of which makes Deuce’s return to Cult Status this weekend of great interest. He’ll be showing exclusively black-and-white work; lots of illustrations. The idea is to remove the easy dazzle of his color palette and shift attention to his deft, mesmerizing line work—to draw, you could say, with one hand tied behind his back. It’s a good strategy: Deuce’s black-and-whites have always been his strongest pieces.

But they also represent an uneasy detente with the realm of Fine Art. They are angst-y, begrudging, lovely to look at, and tough as eff. You should go buy a few…before we do.

27 Solo: The Gray Area
Opening reception Friday, July 13
7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Cult Status, 2913 Harriet Ave. S., Mpls.