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A line from a Grammy-nominated Suicidal Tendencies song turned into neon art by Risk, aka Kelly Graval, at Tracy Park Gallery in Malibu. Scott Steepleton/Surfside News
Painting on rose gold mirrors is a new series by Risk.
A nod to the tools of graffiti by Risk.
Chloe Trujillo is the other artist featured in the current show at Tracy Park Gallery.
Scott Steepleton, Editor
9:46 am PDT April 16, 2021

The cop car he cut in half wouldn’t fit in the elevator, but you can bet the pieces chosen by the artist Risk for a new show at Tracy Park Gallery will still impress.

A West Coast graffiti art founding member, Risk, aka Risky, aka Kelly Graval, does something different at every turn: 2D modern art in one swipe; butterflies in another; neon; podcasting.

Environmentalism? Well, he does repurpose spray paint cans into metal sculptures.

Then there’s the LAPD cruiser he cut in half lengthwise as part of the “Face Your Fears" sculpture series, which sprang from a challenge by the late artist Ed Moses to incorporate things he feared into his work.

After all, when you do graffiti, there’s nothing you fear more than the cops. (This piece does, however, require something along the lines of a garage to show, so getting it to the upstairs gallery at Malibu Country Mart would be tough.)

His latest series finds the artist cutting his paintings into strips and weaving them into a canvas for a new piece.

“I think it’s beautiful,” gallery owner Tracy Park told Surfside News. “It’s a great way to reuse your work.”

But it’s the graffiti that’s always dazzled Park.

“I started my career 20 year ago with a kid — he’s a man now — named Sage Vaughn who kind of got started in the same essence. I've always been a fan of emerging graffiti artists. I’m drawn to it. I love it. And Risk’s is the best. What I like about Kelly’s work is he’s so prolific. But he doesn’t just do graffiti. He’s a fine artist. He paints, he sculpts, he uses raw materials, found objects.”

“For me, Risk is just one of the highest artists out there,” she added. “Usually everyone’s so excited to be in my gallery, but this is a big deal for me because I’m such a fan and I’ve been such a fan for a long time.”

Park is now featuring the work of Risk and artist Chloe Trujillo, and a reception for the artists is set for 1-7 p.m. Saturday, April 17, at the gallery, 23410 Civic Center Way, second floor.

Standing near a Risk metal/neon wall hanging called “All I Wanted Was A Pepsi!” Park shared a story about a connection the two artists shared that she didn’t even know about until the show.

“‘All I Wanted Was A Pepsi’ is from a very famous song by Suicidal Tendencies,” she said, referring to 1993’s "Institutionalized,” which was nominated for the Best Metal Performance Grammy. “Chloe Trujillo’s husband (Robert Trujillo) was in Suicidal Tendencies. I always use their music when I post videos about my husband, ‘You can’t bring me down! You can’t bring me down!’ But I had no idea that Chloe’s husband was in Suicidal Tendencies. I knew he was in Metallica, but I didn’t know he had previously been in Suicidal Tendencies.”

As it turns out, Risk and Robert are friends.

“It’s so funny that I happen to have these two artists that know each other,” she continued. “It’s very exciting for me that they both live in our community. I love to support local artists, obviously, and it’s so fun that I’m pairing these two artists whose work I really like.”

It’s a show two years in the making — the pandemic sucking one of those years away — “and I’m out of my mind thrilled,” said Park.

Explaining her affinity for Trujillo’s work, Park said she’s always had a strong connection to skulls.

“For me, the skull doesn't represent death. It’s part of our make up. We have a skull in us right now,” she said. “I love Chloe. She’s very spiritual in the sense that she puts a lot of enlightenment and awareness and magical elements into her pieces, and a third eye.”

“I think her work is so beautiful and completely different than Risk’s work.”

“I’m so excited that this will be my first big show after COVID,” said Park. “I’ve had other shows, but people are so nervous to come out.”

With restrictions eased, it's not a risk to say Saturday’s reception should be one to remember.