“I’m from the city of Detroit. This is an island on its own,” says artist Antonio “Shades” Agee. “We don’t have distractions here.” Growing up first on the city’s east side, then on the west, it was up to Agee to find his own diversions. He knew he wanted to paint, fascinated early on by oils and canvas but frustrated by its “tedious” pace. A classmate showed up one day with a can of spray paint, and he was hooked. “You could create the Mona Lisa in four hours,” he says.
Agee had his first gallery show by 15, and now, at age 42, is a full-time graffiti artist with regular corporate commissions and several pieces archived at the Detroit Institute of Arts. His nickname, “Shades,” stuck from a teenage habit of wearing sunglasses day and night.
On Wednesday’s Newshour, Spencer Michels reports on Detroit’s thriving arts scene. We’ll post Michels’ piece here later this evening. In the meantime, enjoy our interview with Agee above.