Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fox 5 News Kyle Boatwright at The Machine Shop Gallery

After a six-month stint in jail, a notorious Imperial Beach vandal has turned his longtime criminal skill into an art form.

Convicted of more than 215 counts of vandalism, Kyle Boatwright is now using spray paint to create art.

"A lot of my artwork has life experience, things that I've been through," Boatwright said. "Some pieces will look sinister and that has to do with the hard experiences to get to the point where I am now."

Boatwright started tagging the Imperial Beach area when he just 14 years old.

He was arrested in March of 2010, was in jail for six months, and fined more than $85,000 for all the damage he caused throughout his seven-year criminal career. "It's not really what I'm trying to be looked at anymore," Boatwright said. "It was a wakeup call. It's not a lifestyle I ever want to be a part of."

When Boatwright, 23, was released in August a childhood friend offered him a road towards redemption.

"We've grown up together and I've seen the good art and the not-so-good art," said Chris Clements, owner and founder of The Machine Shop, an art gallery in East Village. "I said, 'Let's stop doing it on the street and at the same time bring it into a gallery and let people see it.'"

Clements opened his art space around the same time Boatwright was getting out of jail and Clements thought it would be a good idea to feature his friend's art.

"I think he was excited to see the stuff on the walls and have people respond the way they did," Clements said.

The art was apparently received well as Boatwright said some of his art has gone for more than $400.

"I thought, 'What are you crazy?'" Boatwright said. "Just a while before that everyone was looking at me like I'm this big criminal and a bane to society."

Boatwright said he originally got into graffiti as a teenager because he found it to be an outlet for his depression and inner-aggression.

Boatwright recalls sometimes spending all night out spray painting everything from sidewalks to freeway underpasses.

"I would spend hours painting and at least that time I was painting I was happy," Boatwright said. "I really needed a way to express myself."

Boatwright said he was drawn to the public nature of this type of expression.

"There's just something really raw about it that drew me in," Boatwright said.

Boatwright said he is determined to stay away from a criminal lifestyle and will use legitimate art to rehabilitate himself.

Ever since his teenage years, through his time in jail and even now as an artist, Boatwright has owned a sketchbook with many drawings that he bases his work from but the book also contains four words he is trying to live his life by: Do the right thing.

"I'm just trying to change my life and it means a lot to me," Boatwright said. "I constantly tell myself, 'Do the right thing.'"

Boatwright has put much of his work online.

Boatwright is scheduled to have a live show of how his work is produced at The Machine Shop. The show is set for Friday.
Copyright © 2011, KSWB-TV

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