On December 12, 2019, Phase 2, the Hip Hop pioneer, aerosol artist and writer, passed away in New York. The artist who went by a variety of names including True, True Mathematics, Phase Too, Lonnie Wood and Lonnie Marrow is considered widely to be the architect of the writing movement that many call graffiti, a term that he rejected in life due to its derogatory implications. A child of the civil rights era, Phase was an activist and agitator, who rallied for writers to control their destiny and their movement. He started painting at the dawn of the writing movement in the Bronx in 1971 (from his home base in Forest Projects) and was mentored by LEE163. In 1972 he became a founding member of the collective United Graffiti Artists (“UGA”) and exhibited his paintings in the first-ever organized art exhibitions to focus on the writers. With the birth of Hip Hop approaching he served as both architect and artist by rapping, dancing, and creating the early flyers that would define the jams of the era.
By the 1980s he would emerge as one of the key artists to transition from trains to canvas but continued to contribute to the train movement by returning to paint monumental pieces. He would eventually go on tour around the world and introduced the movement to such far off places like Australia. His work broke free of the letterform and he would go on to create mixed media works, music (Phase II – The Roxy (1982) Celluloid Records) and sculptures. His influence grew with the publishing of the ground-breaking zine International Graffiti Times (“IGT”), in the late 1980s. He would continue to paint and exhibit around the world while giving lectures at universities and serving as the voice of reason and wisdom to writers worldwide.
His impact with the development of letters, ethics, conduct and attitude within the writing community and Hip Hop will be forever felt and he shall be remembered as the godfather of the writing movement.
Long Live Phase2.