Graffiti ‘war’ between Sintex, out-of-towners turns ugly in Detroit

Detroit-based artist Sintex painted this mural over another one by a Baltimore artist in August.
Detroit-based artist Sintex painted this mural over another one by a Baltimore artist in August. Photos by Steve Neavling.

Controversial graffiti muralist Sintex declared war on out-of-town artists this summer – and it’s getting ugly.

In August, Sintex painted over a large mural that honored Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American beat to death by two white men in Highland Park in 1982. The mural was painted by Baltimore artist Gaia as part of the popular Grand River Creative Corridor on Detroit’s west side.

Soon after, Sintex painted over another mural on Grand River – this one by Los Angeles artist Revok, who was working on the Detroit Beautification Project. Sintex painted an image of Tupac clutching a gun, next to the words, “I got the juice now.”

Detroit artist Sintex painted this image of Tupac over a mural by LA artist Revok.
Detroit artist Sintex painted this image of Tupac over a mural by LA artist Revok.

When the mural was buffed, Sintex painted a portrait of civil rights icon Rosa Parks, who strangely is holding a placard with the name “Sintex.”

On Instagram, Sintex, who is black, said “a race war” would erupt if someone painted over his Rosa Parks image.

“u gotta be a fuckin dick to go over rosa parks on rosa parks blv.. I am out here raining supreme over theese toys..they know they cant fuck with me.. they diss pac..my pi ru homies will see them fuckerz..and the rest of Detroit who loves pac..its going back up..prob over some fuck who doesn’t belong.”

Sintex painted over a mural by a Los Angeles artist
Sintex painted another mural of Rosa Parks with the words, “Get off the bus!”

Then this month, one of Sintex’s most notable murals– Art of War –in the Grand River Creative Corridor was defaced with a black, bubbly lettered, “Revok.”

The word "Revok" is painted over Sintex's "Art of War" mural.
The word “Revok” is painted over Sintex’s “Art of War” mural.

 

At the Eastern Market this month, large-scale murals by Revok and his Los Angeles-based crew MSK were vandalized.

MSK Revok
This mural in the Eastern Market was defaced recently. It was painted by MSK, a group of Los Angeles-based artists that includes Revok.
This mural in the Eastern Market was faced recently. It was painted by MSK, a group of Los Angeles-based artists that includes Revok.
Another mural by MSK that was defaced at the Eastern Market.

Sintex has been vocal on social media about his disdain for out-of-towner murals, saying more curated work should go to local artists. (A lot of it does. Check out the locally painted HopCat in Midtown. “The Z” parking garage in downtown and the Grand River Creative Corridor include local and out-of-town artists.)

When I tried to interview Sintex for a story this summer, he didn’t mince words. He was angry that I wrote a story about him painting over the Vincent Chin mural.

“I wished I kicked u in yo fuckin neck,” he wrote to me on Facebook. “Kill yourself better than what I am going to do.”

Here is the Vincent Chin mural.

 

Vincent chin mural

Vincent chin mural

Vincent chin mural

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.

  • Drainbed Roman

    Sintex is now accused of being a thief. Supposedly he was commissioned to design a t-shirt and straight up ripped off an old Hash Bash poster by the esteemed Mark Arminski. Looks like time for this douche to put away his guns and lawyer up (copyright, not criminal defense) because his lazy game is up and he has stolen from the wrong people.

  • Xetnisesactun

    The sad truth is that unfortunately most of the fine people commenting on this young man are connected to a completely different reality than his psyche is. First, to understand him you need to put yourself in to the deepest and darkest, most resentful spaces in your own mind to even begin to gain insight to where he is coming from. (…Think your greatest, deepest most resentful episode in your life, then repeat it each day as your mantra…).

    Your reality is not his, your thoughts are not his thoughts, your mind is not as his. He is coming from a very deep, dark and hateful place that you do not know or understand, nor should you want or care to.

    As rational caring people you are trying to relate to someone on your own terms, and within your own frame of decent reference to other human beings in this world. You are mistaken…. Someone like him doesn’t and isn’t interested in the least about “discussing”, or “understanding” your point of view. He simply isnt capable of “tolerating” your voices, he cant, nor is he capable of having a level of civilized talk with you.

    He is only happy to forever stay mired in his cesspool of hatred, it’s what drives him, gains him the acceptance he so clings to from people of his same ilk, disposition and hatred, whose “acceptance” he so deeply, no should I say, desperately seeks. You are simply a foil to him to show off how he is “the man” to his sympathetic audience.

    In the end however, I do commend all of you for not giving up and standing strong in the face of such a decrepit wind. In the end even the ugliest of winds fade and are eventually forgotten despite their most violent protests and swirling flail. It is gracious of you to give him his 15 minutes of fame that he so desperately craves albeit at the expense of so many others so much more deserving than such a jealous decaying soul.

  • James Renn

    How is it he is not arrested doing this? Its not like this takes 5 minutes to do. Doesnt anyone see him and report it to police promptly and stop this idiot?

  • churchchurchliquorstore1

    Can’t we just settle this the old fashion way with a drive by?

  • James Renn

    This is what makes Detroit so ugly, people like Sintex.. no respect for anyone,,,everything does, and will go around

  • Jenny Hoffman

    Nice work Steve! Stay safe! Hugs!

  • falseprophet

    All garbage to me. Rather look at burned up falling down buildings then this so called artwork. They should all be arrested for vandalism.

  • Gooooooood. Focus all your hatred on Sintex, and not on my white, baby-faced agents. Mwahahahaha!

  • Alberto Gonzalez

    I’ve lived in Baltimore and I’ve lived in Detroit. I don’t want Sintex representing Detroit, but I sure as hell don’t want Andrew Pisacane (aka “Gaia”) representing Baltimore.

    Andrew has a pathological need to be the smartest man in the room wherever he goes. If you were confused by the three other guys on his so-called “memorial” to Vincent Chin, that proves you’re not as smart as Andrew Piscane.

    • Thee1tooth

      Regardless, the guy was invited as a guest to do a mural. He did the mural. It doesnt matter if he added Jackie Chan or Ming the Merciless to the mural. Both he and Sintex understood that Andrew was going to paint a mural on that wall after Sintex has had it for a few years. Sintex pulls some bogus rule out of his ass and cries like a baby. Besides Sintex’s dick riding army, I have not heard any other REAL graff writers in Detroit mention a “no fly zone” rule.

      • Alberto Gonzalez

        It would matter very much if he added Jackie Chan or Ming the Merciless to the mural. A lot of people don’t know graffiti artists have rules, but a lot of people know you’re supposed to have respect for the dead.

  • meta

    Remember the movie Breakin’? Thats what got me started. Oh and the opening to Welcome Back Cotter, with the trains rolling past… If you write outdoors or paint murals or billboards you cannot go through life imagining this shouldnt or wont happen. It may begin to become plain that this outdoor orientation to artistic endeavor has its limits, right? Everyone in this has a legitimate argument. Sure, the Detroit population is getting nacked. Really. Everybody marketing to Oakland county natives with this color carnival james rosenquist poseur shit ought to open a gallery in Birmingham next to their moms house. You want to represent Detroit with artists from LA and Brooklyn and Australia and Texas and wherever the fuck? How does that work exactly? Youre using the name of the city to label some out of state graphic designers doing some “from the streets” fake ass honky bullshit then it ought to get painted over. It ought to be a free for all. does that mean set up scaffold and get permits? No it means there are no rules and if it is sick and it is local it sticks, if its something everybody can be proud of, its legit and it remains, if not it gets hit. I mean what do you all think youre doing? Playing some game? Life aint no game. Especially in Detroit.

    • Thee1tooth

      Unfortunately for Sintex, he decided to mess with the wrong crew. If youre some poser ass muralist and you decide to diss a legit graff writing crew like MSK, there are consequences. The dude shoulda checked his ego and humbled the fuck up and tried to just work together instead of causing problems.

      • meta

        youre no fool….

    • nil

      Whoever you are, I love you. This is the hardest I’ve laughed in weeks. Preach.

      • meta

        word.

  • What a disgraceful thing to do. Who the hell cares if they are from out of town, you don’t deface original work – EVER! Sintex needs to stop acting like some kind of vigilante using Rosa Parks to further his stupid agenda. You don’t support local artists by hating on others.

    • Genevieve Terrell

      Two wrongs don’t make a right, but did you know that the mural Sintex defaced was a defacing of his own mural?

      • He’s trippin

      • Thee1tooth

        Wrong! It was made crystal clear to sintex and gaia by Derek that the murals curated by GRCC typically rotate and get replaced every few years. THIS IS HOW GRAFFITI & STREET ART WORKS. It is put up in the street being fully aware it will eventually get replaced once it’s lived its course. Sintex believes himself to be some sort of graffiti king in Detroit and gets butthurt that one fucking wall he did will be replaced by a guest artist. Sintex has NO EFFING PROBLEM going out of state and painting on other peoples walls. Sintex is a hypocritical punk.

        • meta

          Institutionalized and organized – “street art” isnt really street art is it.. Rules for graffiti? Youre talking about a mythological paradise where a corridor of creation is controlled by fantasy island rules without taking on any element of reality and your butt hurts… gotta be cool somehow, why dont you start a fanclub?

          • Thee1tooth

            I already have a fanclub thank you very much. And yes, “rules”. Unofficial yet very spoken about rules that people who write follow. There are exceptions, there always is. But the fact remains that the majority of writers hold themselves to these “rules”. Go on any writers forum ask any writer about the mythological rules that you’ve never seem to have heard of. Also, yes, the street art that the GRCC curates is not graffiti nor does it follow under the same “rules”. Sintex, who has never done graffiti, believes that these very legal and very organized murals are subject to the “rules” of graffiti.

          • meta

            good cop.

          • Thee1tooth

            k.

          • meta

            youre on k.

          • Thee1tooth

            Your mom is.

          • meta

            ELECTRIC BOOGALOO YA’LL!!!

          • Thee1tooth

            Swiggety swooty, I’m comin for that booty

          • meta

            you want my moms booty? I’ll get you a shovel.

          • Thee1tooth

            Thanks bruh, you’re one swell guy.

          • meta

            only on your chin,

  • David Reich

    Andrew Picane’s mural “honored” Vincent Chin how exactly? That mural made about as much sense as the WSU sculpture to memorialize the professor killed by one of his own students. If I was Vincent Chin’s mother, I’d say thank you to Sintex for painting over Piscane’s mural, but please keep my son out of your murals.

    • Thee1tooth

      Well, if you can do a better mural, give Derek a call and tell him you’d like to take a crack at it. Im not sure why the mural didnt honor Chin enough for you. It was a painting of him on the wall. What exactly were you expecting? The mural was hardly different to any mural or memorial done for soldiers or outstanding citizens. The fact that it was painted on a wall as a way to remember what happened is where the honor lies. Would you rather have a painting of him fighting off a platoon of robot ninjas or maybe shooting down zombies while saving orphans from a burning bus? What would make sense for you?

      • Lisa Havelock

        I can’t speak for David, but here’s how that mural would have made sense to *me*: if it had been *only* about Vincent Chin, and not about those three other guys Andrew Pisacane put to the right of Vincent Chin.

        • David Reich

          Exactly. The 4-dimensional context for a memorial mural is EXTREMELY important. If one variable’s off, go back to the drawing board.

    • gaia

      to be clear, the estate of vincent chin and his family were contacted prior to the execution of the mural, and the full design was presented for approval. Without their approval the mural would never have been produced.

  • Thee1tooth

    First off, Sintex is NOT a graffiti writer/artist. He’s a guy who does legal murals in a style that resembles graffiti. There is a very big difference. It’s important to note because although he is not a graffiti writer, he expects everybody to give him respect as one including actual graffiti writers. He expects others to listen to the “rules” he makes up such as Detroit being a “no fly” zone for graffiti. Ask any Detroit graff writer what that means and you wont get an answer because that rule doesn’t exist. He also has no problem going out of state and painting legal murals without getting permission. The whole “Chin” mural was a testament to how immature and how much of a hypocrite Sintex is. He was so envious that a world renowned artist painted a mural over his and it turned out to be 1000x better than anything he could ever do with his stupid Indian murals. He started crying foul and making it about race and how he’s oppressed because he’s black despite the EXTREME generosity of a local WHITE art organization director. Notice how he’s too afraid to “diss” other peoples murals with his tag whereas Revok used his tag and added “you will never be more famous than now”. That’s another huge difference that separates him from an actual graffiti writer. Personally, I dont think Revok could have said it better.

    • David Reich

      Derek Weaver is a businessman first and foremost. Every saint needs a demon, and sometimes a saint has to hire his demon.

      • Thee1tooth

        Not sure exactly how your analogy relates to what happened. Are you implying Derek hired Sintex to cause problems?

        • Bill Thomas

          It sounds to me like that’s exactly what Dave’s saying. Creating a villain people love to hate is very difficult. But if there’s only one man in this city who can pull it off, that man’s probably Derek Weaver.

          • Thee1tooth

            This totally makes sense and is the only logical explanation.

  • Berry

    When you write bunk stories about graf, nobody wants you to interview them, Steve. You reap what you sow.

    • Bill Thomas

      I don’t know how credible this is, but I hear Steve gets hundreds of news tips a week. Maybe half of them are crap, but still I bet he’s probably got enough not to ever need to do another story about graffiti.

  • queenie1

    I was so sad to read that he painted over the Vincent Chin memorial. That reflects back to a(nother) very sad time in Detroit history. Sintex probably wasn’t even born yet but felt free to destroy what others had put here. And a pic of Tupac with a gun!?!?! WTF it is 2014 – even Tupac wouldn’t be frontin’ like that. And to vandalize the AMAZING artwork at Eastern Market – people will not be paying anyone to do a nice painting for them, be it a Detroiter or out-of-towner, if they have to fear it will be f***ed up by the likes of him. And to use Mrs. Parks to promote himself – he should be ashamed. I think something is SERIOUSLY WRONG with Mr. Sintex, just reading his quotes is scary. Dude quit f***ing up our city!

    • David Reich

      That was not a good memorial to begin with. Also, do you really think Derek Weaver had no idea these kinds of things would happen when he started being “generous” to Sintex?

      • Thee1tooth

        Lol, what do you have against Derek anyways? Are you Sintex’s online altar ego?

        • Lisa Havelock

          Assuming David is Sintex’s online alter ego: Sintex is actually very thoughtful and articulate, but the deal he brokered with Derek requires him to give the public appearance of an enraged idiot.

          • Guest

            Yes, and he does sub-par graffiti while he’s actually an artistic genius. He could even be Bansky.

          • Thee1tooth

            Yes, and he does sub-par murals when he’s actually an artistic genius. He could even be Bansky.

        • David Reich

          It would make more sense for you to suspect me of being Derek’s online alter ego.

          All kidding aside, though, this is my problem with Derek: he gives white guys like me a bad reputation. I can’t volunteer in Detroit without people thinking I have some sort of ulterior motive and/or hidden agenda.

          • Thee1tooth

            And you have proof of his hidden agendas/ulterior motives?

  • bebow

    Is this the one who’s latched onto some other guy’s tatas for a free place to stay? If so, that’s some impressive juice.

    • muckraker_steve

      That’s the same one, Bebow.

      • bebow

        Uh huh. He can’t take care of himself but expects to dominate the situation while dependent upon someone else’s largesse for supplying basic needs. A real hard guy that one.

        • Thee1tooth

          Sintex is nothing but a crybaby who is butthurt that artists way better than him are getting up in Detroit. Instead of becoming a better artist and working WITH other artists he buffs over everything with his stupid Indian murals which look like they all have down syndrome.

      • SnowStormsinDetroit

        Steve, a bit off topic, but I’ve been hammered constantly on your site whenever I’ve taken issue with some of your stories on “graffiti”.

        Ive said over and over… just bc someone pics up a can of paint and sprays “Yo mamma” all over the damn place, doesn’t make it graffiti…

        …that’s called VANDALISM!

        So hopefully now you’ll recognize the distinctions being made here by 1tooth and others who know their shit…and begin to draw your own distinctions between what’s graffiti and what’s vandalism when creating your headlines and writing the stories. Thanks Steve.

        • meta

          write a dictionary.

        • Thee1tooth

          +1 on that note. I agree, making the distinction between graffiti and legal murals is significant. Whilst it may be of no concern to the average joe, for people who are in the know, it would be akin to saying being in a 1 percenter biker gang and riding your vespa to panera every sunday are the same thing. Graffiti comes with it’s own set of rules and trials to gain the respect of your peers. There are debates that in order for something to truly be graffiti it must be illegal. Either way, every graffiti writer starts off by creating a moniker and perfecting their penmanship in a sketchbook. The first step is always tagging. Tags are the foundation of any graffiti. Like I said, there are rules. No active schools, no places of worship, no open businesses (but metal roller gates are permissable), no cars, no occupied houses. Of course there are people (usually kids) that break these rules. Any muralist that claims to do or has done graffiti has had to illegal tags in order to be taken seriously. As destructive as it may sound, a graffiti writers objective isnt to destroy but to enhance. Like a tattoo, it is meant to be tasteful and be a part of the environment its in and not work against it.

  • Christian Danger Helser

    Detroit is home, and has been to some of the best artists in America, and I say that without any boasting or pride. To me its just fact. Yet, any true professional in the art world in as Detroit (academic or otherwise) knows defacement or vandalism of another’s artist work (IE: Chen memorial) is not excusable. The act of destroying another artists work only impedes the message I feel this defacer is trying to send. Yet out of ignorance it seems he went for the gold with it and in all its glory breed anger, angst, and immaturity and gives honest reputable collectives and solo artists a one more pain to deal with.

    On top of this “sintex” actions are retarding the Detroit artist community by discouraging artists to come to Detroit, and thus possibly becoming natives themselves or broadening further opportunities for Detroit artists out of state. Will he be defacing the Bansky next? It’s just dumb. It only takes one to ruin it for the rest which is said since I know plenty of hard working professions in Detroit that this action hurts. While this sintex is defacing the work of the hardworking creative professionals of Detroit more than what he’s doing to these “out of towners”.

    This is my opinion, and I’m its either a plus or negative , but I agree with a previous poster but with one addition “sintex” has talent, but why hate when you can just be the better man? Why not prove your message with your own respective work site instead of messing up another piece? You don’t see me going into the D.I.A. and painting my self portrait on van gogh’s work. Seriously, I maybe away from Detroit but all those who are out of town artists, this sintex doesn’t speak for the majority.

    • Thee1tooth

      Well, he defaced some work done by Revok who is part of MSK. He “dissed” it but was too much of a coward to use his own tag when doing so. I wouldnt want the ire of MSK. Let’s just say if Sintex wants all his murals to be buffed and continually buffed for years to come he’s doing a fantastic job of getting there. He’s essentially creating an atmosphere where nobody in Detroit wants to be associated with him.

  • Tom Sapp

    disgusting of sintex to use rosa parks to push his own agenda and ego..

    • SnowStormsinDetroit

      Eggzzzzackly!

      It honestly sounds like this fool has some sort of mental problem. Im not joking. Egomania is a symptom of a very serious mental condition but I can’t remember which.

      • bebow

        Psychopathy.

      • Thee1tooth

        Pretty much. Im sure after MSK buffs all his murals he will be a much humbler person.

  • Great, more tough guy bullshit. Just what Detroit needs.

    • SnowStormsinDetroit

      It ain’t like Detroit doesn’t have … Oh I don’t know maybe..

      ….a GAZZZILLION DAMN EMPTY BUILDINGS for him to paint on.

      Why be Jealous- when he can just be Better.

      • Maybe he has an inferiority complex.

        • Thee1tooth

          Thats exactly it. The guy has been painting indians forever. He got butthurt when someone 1000x better than him painted a wall. Someone, who I might add, has more street cred as a graff writer than him. Have you ever seen sintex tags anywhere in Detroit that wasnt on a legal wall? There arent any. There never has been. He doesnt know what graffiti is and tries to pose as if he’s part of its culture.

          • Guest

            I just think someone should tell him his eyes are to close together and the faces are to long….just sayin

  • Muhammad Mojaradi

    lmaoo sintex thinking he a writer