Contributed photo — Tyler Read, a former South Whidbey resident now living in Rapid City, S.D., was one of 24 people awarded with the prestigious Bush Fellowship.

Reformed South Whidbey vandal puts graffiti to good use, wins award

Tyler Read, a former South Whidbey resident who uses his art to enhance the community of Rapid City, S.D., was recently awarded a prestigious Bush Fellowship.

The honor is given to those with “extraordinary potential” to make significant contributions in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and 23 Native nations that share the same geography, according to a press release. Since moving to Rapid City in 2004, Read employed art “as his tool to improve” the community, helped mentor youth involvement in the arts and foster “equity, empathy and shared responsibility.”

Read was one of 639 applicants and 24 finalists who were selected through a multi-stage application interview process.

Residents living on South Whidbey in the early 1990s may remember the name “Rabbit” tagged in graffiti on the sides of schools and private businesses. Read, a teenager at the time, was responsible. His intent was to express himself and urban culture through art, but not all viewed it in a positive light. He later turned himself in and took responsibility for his actions at the encouragement of his grandmother.

Read, now 40, said in a phone interview Monday morning that it was an embarrassing time for his family, but an experience that helped guide him to more positive ways of channeling his artistic efforts. After moving to Rapid City, he worked as a welder in factories and often spent 10-12 hours on the job. During his free time, he painted at a free public art space named “Art Alley.”

“The more I painted, the more I got to know the community,” Read said.

Read said graffiti art was not common in Rapid City at the time. After introducing it to the community, he taught youth how to create their own works of art. He eventually helped them work on commission projects, where the proceeds would be donated to charity. Read is now employed by the city’s art council and helps facilitate the art space.

As a Bush Fellow, Read will be provided with up to $100,000 over 12 to 24 months to pursue learning experiences that help develop leadership skills and attributes.

Read hopes to create more public arts spaces throughout the Midwest, with a focus on reservation communities.

“It’s something I want to do to help broadcast the Native American people’s voices so that they are heard,” Read said.

Contributed photo — Tyler Read’s NoDAPL (No Dakota Access Pipeline) mural titled, “How the Protectors Defeated the Black Snake.”

More in Life

Annual street dance, live bands set for Saturday

Langley’s new annual dancing-in-the-street summertime tradition is back for the third year,… Continue reading

New public art debuts in Langley

Steel and glass shape pieces chosen by arts commission

Denis Zimmermann and his wife, Cheryl, run Langley’s new ramen restaurant, Ultra House, which opened in May 2018. Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times.
Langley restaurant owner is recreating his childhood with new ramen house

Denis Zimmer-mann said he’s not re-inventing the wheel with his ramen restaurant… Continue reading

Shakespeare Festival plays emotional range

Female directors, perspective at the forefront

A 1941 Graham Hollywood, owned by Roy Deaver of Clinton, was chosen as Best of Show in the Cool Bayview Nights car show Saturday.
Rain doesn’t dampen the fun at Cool Bayview Nights car show

Attendees selected the mildly modified and rebuilt 1941 Graham Hollywood, owned by… Continue reading

Congolese Festival is a chance to celebrate, educate

Last event before Northwest Cultural Center relocates

Mucking about for clams

‘Digging for Dinner’ a popular Sound Water activity

Scorch is a play about gender identification showing at Outcast’s black box theater on the Island County fairgrounds June 13-17. It’s a one-person play, performed by Carmen Berkeley. Director and co-producer Ty Molbak went to middle school in Langley was was active in Whidbey Children’s Theater. Both will be seniors at Rutgers University in the fall. One scene in the play “Scorch” portrays the main character looking into mirrors and wondering what others see.
‘Scorch’ looks at first love and ‘gender fraud’

Irish play revolves around one character’s confusion

Whidbey Island Garden Tour highlights five homes

Tickets still available for Saturday event

Jordan Shelley, 18, stands outside his home in Greenbank. He recently received the Sydney S. McIntyre Jr Scholarship from Skagit Valley College to go toward his tuition at the University of Washington. Shelley will pursue his childhood dream of becoming a doctor. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group
SVC grad earns full 2-year scholarship to UW

A lot has changed since Jordan Shelley was 7 years old and… Continue reading

Expanding knowledge

Whidbey Institute adds more lodging, plans open house

Shhh…it’s a surprise party for old-timer Bill Lanning

Friends, customers invited to celebrate former owner of Bill’s Feed Tack