1xRun: Tell us a little about what this piece represents to you?
Doze Green: The icon that is Rammellzee is represented here as an homage to my personal big brother and mentor. He was and still is a great motivation in my work. I am just paying my respects to the master.
Like in the days of the ancients, when the pharaohs, emperors, and kings of great nations walked through the veil of existence in the 3rd density. Their physical bodies would be prepared in ritual for the afterlife. Some were entombed in sarcophagi, others on a funeral pyre, but most if not all wore some kind of death mask representational of the divine eternal face to be greeted on the next plane. Others where garnished with fierce masks to repel demons on their cosmic journey. RAMM always expressed that he would traverse the hells to slay then return to forever. The Death Mask is my interpretation of just that.
1xRun: Was this piece part of a recent theme or series that you had?
Doze Green: No the painting is free standing as it should be.
1xRun: When was this piece created and what materials were used?
Doze Green: I created this piece over course of about a month in the spring of 2013 with the usual mediums of spray and acrylic paints.
1xRun: Tell us how the idea and execution came about?
Doze Green: The idea as explained above pays homage to the man, I just thought how would I design a mask that would be representational of my favorite characters in his pantheon of gods. Pan Maximus, and Lord minus a demigod character that I created for him, and of course the famous RAMMELZEE character mask that he is most recognized.
1xRun:This piece is pretty unique, lacking any bold line work found in a lot of your work.
Doze Green: What’s unique about this piece is that it is one of the first works that explores the delineation of line work while at the same time emphasizing the line through fractalization and color.
1xRun: Take us back to the beginning for you, how did you get your start creating artwork?
Doze Green: I used to paint when I was a little kid. I come from a family of artists. My dad was a sculptor, my mom was a painter, grandpa was a pianist. So I was around jazz and music, and the Bohemian life, if you want to say that, in a lower, middle-class setting. But yeah, I was just drawing all the time early on, primarily just super heroes. What really got me into art was in 1972-73 I started seeing graffiti on a large-scale. Work from people tagging with El Markos jumbos to mini wides to Uni wides and of course the fat cap jiffy foam tags! The jumbo markers scene, the Marvy markers, the big pilot markers, the mop tips and all the other stuff. I’d say around ’73 I got involved when I was in junior high school, but after three years of private school, I went to IS 44 in Manhattan where Mackie of the Rebels, including Zephyr, Revolt, Nova, Dean, BYB Crew, PhK and Salsa all went. That’s where the famous wall of fame & handball court is, with Eva and Barbara 62, Wasp, Piper, Snake 1 etc. Bombed to shreds. That’s my junior high school. Being from the upper west side I got to witness the expansion and development of “broadway style” first hand. I used to skate and do tagging runs with the Rebels and BYB & 3Yard Boys, shortly after that, I got into graff by participating in a graffiti contest. I came in second place and that was pretty dope for a kid who didn’t know shit about graff.
I went on to the High School of Art and design that’s where I met Seen, Mare, Fable and Mr. Wiggles, Lady Pink, Daze, Airborn, Tack, Erni etc etc… That’s where I met everybody. My alumni is probably one of the most famous classes of any high school, as far as graffiti goes. We also had some High School of music and art legends with the likes of Skeme, Puma Kid, Macky and other cats. My school was basically FBA, TC5, CIA, TR, RTW, TNS,TVS, I mean, we had everybody. We were all city because we had kids from all over the city at our high school, so I met kids from every borough and from that point on, you know, it just snowballed.
That’s when the lower east side/Soho scene started to take off. Shows started taking off. 51xFun gallery, it kind of just steamrolled from that point. I wasn’t in it for that reason, but that’s kind of like what happened. My teachers were Dondi White and Ramellzee. Those guys were basically my inspiration to keep it rolling. Back then it was just being vice-president of TC5, just running the crew. Just trying to get up. I also watched the rock steady crew happen simultaneously in ’77. I got down and with the crew the proper way in about 1979-80. Before R.S.C. we used to be the Rockwell Association. A few years previous to that, I met Kenny (Ken Swift) as a young boy. We started Young City Boys, we merged with Rocksteady around ’79 .
It was our parochial school, our college, our sleep away camp, it was all of that. It was basically our vocational high school and university, because all of us were searching for our craft in a sense. We were all doing a little bit of everything. Most b-boys did. Every b-boy — that I knew at least — tried to dance, DJ or emcee. It wasn’t unusual for us to rub elbows with Doug E. Fresh, Cold Crush Bros, the Fantastic 5, Grandmaster Flash, Bamm, Slick Rick or KRS-One, even go catch a tag with those cats. Everybody was basically communicating in some form, whether it be sonically or visually.
1xRun: What’s the story behind the name Doze, did you have any other names before that?
Doze Green: No. Hahaha. I had a few names beforehand, I won’t even speak on those. I was a toy. When I got Doze, it was a combination of things philosophically — if you want to say philosophically for a 14-year old – but, you know, I was just called Doze a lot, Sleepy or Dozey and shit. Everybody picks three to four letters. After five, it gets really difficult to tag up and get away with it or make pieces. But I just liked the flow of it. I remember this writer named Aztec. His Z’s were so dope, so I said I need a Z in my name, and it just flowed. I loved the Z at the end, the omega before it, so it was like a double Z symbology, then E turns in at the end. I learned my early mathematics from the 5% nation, I learned the value of numbers, letters and the signature. It’s all a science, if you want to call 5% a science, or the Zulu nation science, you know it’s beef stroganoff for the mind to the young uninitiated street bastard like myself. It is basically a foundation of metaphysics. That’s what got me into metaphysics, the Zulu nation and 5% nation, which got me into studying the arcane and esoteric, the hidden teachings. But, yea, everybody has a role in their crew, mine was a b-boy, graphics, scribe, scholar and symbol breakdowns.
1xRun: Who were some of your earliest influences?
Doze Green: Jack Kirby. Definitely Jack Kirby with comic books. Cheech Wizard and Vaughn Bode of course. All the underground comic stuff that I could get my hands on. I’d go to 42nd Street at these old bookstores to get the old porno mags, the old dirty old men magazines and shit like Cavalier. They had these really crazy hairy-armpit-buckwheat-
1xRun: Do you want to touch on how your influences have changed over the years and some influences that might not be so apparent at first glance?
Doze Green: I’ve got a thing for the really early Cubists, not the Picasso crap, but the stuff that’s really obscure. I like a lot of the early stuff, with every group there’s always the Sideshow Bob’s, the ones that should have got attention, but never did. A lot of that stuff is more genius to me than the run of the mill (Metropolitan Museum of Art) MET/MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) repetitive stuff. I’m the type of guy who skirts on the edges when it comes to painting and the art scene. I don’t really follow the mainstream. I like my solitude and try to employ the natural world into my settings. I like artists like Lee Bontecou, who is one of my favorite sculptors. There’s a lot influences here. The futurists, Matta, abstract expressionists like Raschenberg and Frank Stella. The Mexican muralists, Byzantine to Proletarian propaganda, the Romanticist movement. I’m influenced by African art, Taino, Cuban, Mayan, Sumarian,The Maori. There’s a lot of stuff that just inspires me, especially indigenous stuff and things that people would label as “outsider art” or whatever you want to call it. Really it’s just a ton of stuff. I can go on forever…
1xRun: You seem to have a pretty large thirst for knowledge in these various different things, have you always been like that?
Doze Green: Yes, and you know it’s an ongoing process, I’m always thirsty for a mindfuck and I have to respect that. I’m always on a quest for delving into new works and ancient scribe societies, getting into them in a mystical metaphysical way. What inspires me is the root meanings of things. I like the all encompassing way of it, I like digging.
1xRun: Do you remember the first piece of artwork that you bought? Do you still have it.
Doze Green: Oh man, I think it was the Kirby piece. It was a Captain America piece yeah, I think it was Captain America. That alongside my jumbo Fantastic Four poster. Yeah, Kirby was probably the first poster I got. But then you know I got a bunch of art as a kid, let me see. A Peter max print, fake Stella style posters and pop art curiousities from 42nd Street novelty stores. Black light art, Frank Frazetta and rock posters, punk magazine issues and posters. Funkadelic artwork and of course black books! But comic books were really the first art I bought, if you want to consider that, which I do. I sold my comic book collection in 1979. If I had it now it today would be worth at least $100,000, at least. I know it.
1xRun: Did you sell it altogether or piece by piece?
Doze Green: ALL TOGETHER. Well…you know I really wanted some leather pants and other stuff at the time. I wanted to look like Grandmaster Flash. But yeah, I wish I had that stuff now. I have some of the Cheech Wizards left, I have some of the Kirby stuff I kept. I liked the New Gods and the Eternals. Nobody collected those, but those are the ones I really liked by Kirby because they talked about — once again– gods and ancient mysteries, secret society shit. So that shit blew my mind. Actually, that’s some of the most ornate stuff Kirby created. Then later, a lot of people say he lost his mind, in the end he started doing the five thumbs and stuff like that. But I think some of that stuff is genius. He was one of the first artists to integrate photographs and comic books, and start drawing over the photographs in pen and ink. I really love his psychedelic trips, in his centerfolds and posters. I used to take those, if I would get doubles, and I would just pop them out of the middle and just like stick them to my wall, it was super psychedelic. Yezzzzzzzzz.
1xRun: Any upcoming news or events you’d like to share?
Doze Green: Yup, I will be painting several mural this summer,starting in Miami, then Tunisia and Denver. I also will be having a one man show in the fall at Jonathan Levine Galleries new space on W23rd Street in New York City, and a show in Morocco at the David Block gallery in Marrakesh. Thanks again 1xRUN!