The Art of the Inimitable Patch Whisky

If you clicked on this, we presume you want to know what Patch Whisky’s art is all about. But we would also like to believe that you are interested or at least curious about graffiti. Keeping that in mind we would like to tell you a different story before we begin talking about Patch Whisky. This story is about the beginning of the revolutionary art movement in the 1970s. The time when city walls and subway vehicles began to be covered with artwork, primarily political in nature, leading to the entire movement turning controversial. Several classical artists too stood against the movement, refusing to recognize graffiti as an art form. But the growing influence of pop culture made neo conceptualists embrace it and that propelled the movement forward.

If we have to trace the history of modern graffiti, we should probably begin with Darryl McCray, popularly known as Cornbread, who painted the walls of Philadelphia all in the name of love. Graffiti artists across geographies recognize him as the father of modern graffiti, prior to which the timelines and artworks are jumbled up. But from Cornbread to Taki 183 to Shepard Fairey to the very popular Banksy, it’s been a great journey.

Graffiti is a defiant public exhibition. Most street artists come with the staunch belief that they do not want their art confined within the walls of an art gallery, they want their ideologies and philosophies shared with the masses without having any of them pay for it. In a way, it’s art for all. While that sounds good to people who appreciate street art, there are people who refute this saying that graphic street art has an inner sense of vanity and intrinsic subversion as it largely relies on writing the artist’s name over and over again on people’s properties. In fact the very idea of graffiti would be a failure if it is to be transported within a gallery. But artists like Patch Whisky rely on beautiful contradictions of this nature.

So who is Patch Whisky? Patch Whisky, alias Rich Miller, is an American graffiti artist, muralist, fine artist and toy maker who is based out of Charleston, South Carolina. Since he never explicitly mentions anywhere why he decided on ‘Patch Whisky’ to be his stage name, we would like to go ahead and assume it is his love for whisky. His murals can be seen on walls throughout east coast, midwest and Hawaii. And hard as it might have been, most of his unconventional works have also seen the lights of galleries including the prestigious Museum of Sex in NY, Museum of Art in Columbia, SC and recently in Paris, France. The New York Times too have covered his works in recent times. He mostly uses acrylic and aerosol to paint his bright, big, colorful monsters.

While we recognize the concept of graffiti being a form of protest art, Patch Whisky’s reputation has made him move from there to a space where he is dedicated to painting walls and also commercializing the art in order to encourage several other graffiti artists. Patch Whisky’s clients include Mellow Mushroom, Warner Brothers Motion Pictures, and Pernod Ricard owned company Absolute.

Caleb Neelon, a former graffiti artist based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts who has over the years moved to writing, making studio artwork, curating etc in his famous work The History of American Graffiti talks about how street artists like him should move to a studio setting instead of remaining loyal to the streets which offer no protection from the law and is not permanent in the sense that the walls are susceptible to being painted by proprietors or being damaged pertaining to changing weather. Moving to a studio setting would mean more money, time, and resources. But question remains if they really want to give up on hundreds of people who come across their work on a daily basis and also what graffiti truly stands for.

 Patch Whisky’s art can also be viewed online, so pour yourself a dram of Ballantines Whisky and look him up. While you are at it, read some more about graffiti and protest art forms and we promise it will keep you hooked for a good while.