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Best Graffiti Artist 

Estria Miyashiro

It's not a vast hyperbole to say that in the summers of 1985 and 1986, Estria Miyashiro graffitied all over his hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii. And it wasn't wack stuff, either, said hip-hop historian Jeff Chang, who attended Iolani High School with Miyashiro and once organized a student graffiti exhibition. Even as a teenager, Miyashiro was known for super-high-quality electrifying images. He was part of a renaissance that ultimately migrated to the East Bay, where Miyashiro hooked up with such famed writers as the late Mike Dream, Done, and Vogue. Today, he paints murals with kids from East Oakland as part of Visual Element, the free mural workshop that Miyashiro co-founded with EastSide Arts Alliance. He's illustrated the Fruitvale train tracks, the Oakland Museum of California, the stage backdrops at Malcolm X Jazz Arts Festival, and walls throughout East Oakland. He painted a Lucha Libre wrestler on a wall in Mexico City during a rainstorm. He helped create a large "Move Against AIDS" piece for AIDS Walk San Francisco in 2004. His murals combine painterly techniques with an airbrush aesthetic, so the detailing is photo-real. Aside from his city beautification projects, Miyashiro runs the San Leandro company Samurai Graphix, which creates stencils of Malcolm X, Frida Kahlo, and Mumia Abu Jamal, often for nonprofit organizations or other worthy causes. Talent alone distinguishes Miyashiro from other graffiti artists. What's more important, though, is that he's used that talent to do right by his community.
(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)


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