Jason Bagge is a street artist. He doesn’t live on the street and peddle his art for loose change. Rather, he has his finger on the pulse of the street, integrating himself through mad rhymes and graffiti-type art.
“My mind is always going, thinking about one art project and the next,” he said, “Straight up, I’d be in a padded cell if I didn’t have this outlet.”
Almost manically he creates, representing the rush-rush of society and the idea of urban decay, mixed with hints of hope and beauty. His work includes elements of realism, abstract, cartooning, and graffiti – often created simultaneously, one an extension of the next.
His mixed-media pieces include the repurposing of an old-school public telephone as the catalyst for dialogue about the habits of society and how quickly things become obsolete.
It seems that constant dialogue flows through Bagge and he expresses it through his art as well as through his hip-hop raps that come to him as naturally as speech. In this rap, he explains his art: “Clever endeavors stored in the paint pen stashed inside my leather coat. The weather slows the creative juices. Sit back and re-evaluate the blueprints of foundation to build on. It takes a lot of work so you must stay focused even when the future seems hopeless. Keep the community buzzing like locusts ready to notice the inner being seen from a strange perspective. Visions collected while walking down the street.”
His main goal is to make people think beyond the walls built by mainstream culture by bringing street and underground art above ground.
Bagge, 37, grew up in Inglewood, Calif. At 16, he moved to Spokane with his family to help care for an aging relative. He attended Shadle Park High School where he did a lot of art.
“The art program at Shadle was tough,” he recalled, “We learned textbook still-life and realism.”
After high school, he lived in Seattle. In 2010, he was living in Browne’s Addition and selling his work when he was in an accident that nearly cost him his right arm. He was unable to make art for over a year. Now, still recovering and living with his parents, he has immersed himself in the art scene once again.
He has shown his work at area venues including skate shops, Bon Bon in the Garland District, and the Globe and he has permanent pieces at a few downtown hot spots. Although born underground as a reflection of the streets, Bagge’s art has an almost commercial feel – raw and forward-thinking energy contained on an array of surfaces. In 1999, his graffiti was featured in an advertisement for a car.
In the near future, Bagge hopes to represent trompe l’oeil (French for “deceive the eye”) on the streets.
“I’d really like to get a group of artists together to decorate the town,” he said. “Legally, of course.”