Controversial graffiti writer from New York City splashes Detroit with fire extinguisher-propelled paint

New York City graffiti writer Katsu appears to have hit several buildings in Detroit recently with paint propelled from a rigged fire extinguisher.

At least four buildings were targeted, some as recently as this weekend. Some believe the controversial painter also was behind the recent vandalism of the 90-year-old CPA building on Michigan Avenue, which recently was bombed with turquoise paint from a fire extinguisher.

Katsu’s graffiti is controversial because it’s often described as ugly, reckless and effortless. Katsu rigs fire extinguishers to propel paint dozens of feet in the air. He usually scrawls his name, Katsu, on the side of buildings and often paints over other graffiti.

He’s been seen painting on a homeless man in New York City, and brazenly tagged the side of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

One of his most recent works is splattered on the abandoned Hotel Eddystone on Cass near Temple, where Katsu’s name appears in red paint, scrawled over existing graffiti. It’s so new that red paint still covers snow from this past weekend.

“Katsu” also appears on the side of a building one block north on Cass and the facade of a factory at Grand River and Fenkell.

Other fire extinguisher work cropped up in the past month.

Katsu acknowledged his work isn’t necessarily eye-popping.

“Graffiti is not art,” Katsu said in a video for the art mag Juxtapoz. “Decorative graffiti is wack, and the easier the graffiti the better.”

He adds:  “Graffiti writers should love graffiti, and people in the public should hate it.”

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.