DUAL: How to Remain Houston’s Most Mysterious Graff Writer
One of Houston’s most prominent street artists is still one of its most mysterious.
Few know what the man known as Dual looks like, and even now as he reaches a point in his art where he is being legitimately exhibited for works not done on the sides of buildings, he remains quite cagey.
“I’ve always been into drawing,” says Dual. “But in the ’90s I took a trip to Amsterdam that changed me. I saw so much of the city and what artists were doing with it. It really put me on my path here.”
It was easy enough for Dual to connect with the street art community in H-Town, teaming up with heavyweights like Give Up on huge murals that spanned over a hundred feet wide. That particular piece took them more than four hours and was a backbreaking effort. The poles on their latex paint rollers snapped on the first use and they were forced to work hunched over on their hands and knees while nearby barking dogs threatened to give away their night time work to the authorities.
Of course, all of this is illegal, and that means that what he creates is always temporary. That might bother some artists, but Dual actually seems to have worked the fleeting nature of his work into his energy. “One good thing with me was that early on I got over that emotional obstacle of the temporary, even though I put everything into everything I do,” he says. “Sometimes I’d be up all night working, and then get up early the next morning to take pictures of it only to find a worker already blasting it off. This city changes all the time. It’s what it is.”
Temporary or not, Dual’s name began to make the rounds with art critics over the course of his ten year career. The recognition that he received convinced him to go to college and try to pursue learning what he’d missed from his street education. His professors didn’t know he was Dual, but by the time he started turning in work they recognized it from seeing it on the streets. “They never told me to stop. They said I’d be a fool to turn my back on ten years of experience.” Nonetheless, they kept his secret, and even as he readies to go to grad school, Dual stays in the shadows. At gallery showings of his canvas works he will anonymously appear, say hello to the fellow street artists that know him, and then quietly leave with art lovers none the wiser.
Once he was part of an exhibition at Rice University that required him to give a talk. Despite wanting very much to participate, he wasn’t ready to out himself yet. “I’d heard that Andy Warhol had once hired a double to go on tour for him. I figured if it worked for Andy it would work for me. So I coached my roommate on being Dual for a couple of days, and then he went off to be me. He answered questions, left, and everyone thought they’d finally seen me.”
That shadow side appears in everything Dual does. That’s even where his moniker comes from; dualism. By day he’s a normal guy, but at night he’s something completely different.