Under Pressure

It’s a misty afternoon in San Antonio, and the crows are circling. Notorious Alamo City graffiti writer Supher is snacking on seafood and reflecting on his brainchild, the Clogged Caps Aerosol Art Festival, which turns 6 this weekend. Although he cites key figures in the graf community — including Duo, Cien, Soup, and Shek — as co-founders, those in the know recognize that Clogged Caps is his baby, and heads are getting older.

“This is nine years into it,” says Supher. “We’ve done six events, and I think we’ve all grown into understanding the responsibility of doing this event and what it takes. The coming together of all these people, even if you haven’t seen everybody in months or a year, getting everybody together, getting them on the same page.”

This year Clogged Caps goes international, and the guests of honor are Germany’s famed Ma’Claim Crew, regarded by many as the greatest practitioners of photo-realistic graffiti on the planet. Joining Ma’Claim is Hera who Supher calls one of the top five female artists in the game.

“No one really likes Texas here,” says Hera with a chuckle via telephone from Germany. “I always have this hope that it must be good in a place that everyone is so prejudiced against. … There has to be a nice part of Texas.”

As one half of art duo Herakut, she has exhibited in Athens, Madrid, Paris, London, Los Angeles, and Mexico City, among other burgs. Along with graf partners Akut and Rusk, she continues to redefine the beauty of aerosol art as rooted in the four elements. References from Slug to Atmosphere to hip-hop soul queen Mary J. Blige are often peppered in their works, along with clever pugs who embody the game’s toys.

“For me that was the most exciting part” says Hera referencing her early to mid 20s. “That’s where I was listening to nothing else but hip-hop, so that was the kind of music that gave me the rhythm to everything I was doing, the lyrics as well. Whenever I had conversations with people, those late-night, red-wine, candlelight conversations, or just sitting there listening to music, that was the thing that was connecting us, discussing music — sitting there and talking about music all day long. Then the next day we’d get up very early in the morning and paint the wall outside totally inspired by that because that was all that was important to us at that moment. We didn’t have family or a very high rent to pay. Now it’s shifting a little. Now we’re more or less open to good music in general or interesting lyrics in general. It’s not only the hip-hop element anymore but it’s based on it.”

Clogged Caps 6 will also feature the San Antonio return of the Triple Threat DJ’s, featuring Shortkut, Apollo, and Cut Chemist. After wowing audiences his first time around, Apollo is focused on supporting hip-hop in San Anto.

“It is necessary to have events like Clogged Caps in cities like San Antonio, because since this city doesn’t have a strong reputation, it builds towards the growth and awareness of the community to hip-hop, and lays a foundation for the youth as an inspiration to create artistic development in all aspects of hip-hop” says Apollo via email.

“My impressions are that this city is in its Golden Era where hip-hop is still pure,” Apollo adds. “The community seems to be open-minded and is starving for real hip-hop. I feel this community is still in its infantile stages but is ready to blow up to be a significant market in the scene.”

“So far I’ve counted over 400 different artists that came to this city, from other cities, other countries, to paint in this town” says Supher, reflecting on his legacy. “I think without this festival San Antonio would have still been left in the dark as far as the aerosol scene and the whole hip-hop culture. Without Clogged Caps this town would have still been behind a good five years.”