MF1, Daniel Montano, pictured on the right, has passed away at 30.
Possibly Pittsburgh’s most well known graffiti writer and a life long anarchist, MF1 had an absolutely unique and thoughtful style that even many who dislike graffiti had trouble not being inspired by. While he could certainly look intimidating, you’d be hard pressed to find anybody who knew Daniel who doesn’t describe him as warm, caring and joyful.
In 2008 Daniel went to prison for committing over $713,000 in 79 instances of property damage stemming largely from a graffiti campaign targeting the rapidly gentrifying East Liberty neighborhood where he lived. He and his friend HERT were made examples by the city and were both sentenced to multiple years in prison, during which Pittsburgh ABC helped them release the zine Now Serving Felonies in which Daniel tells us:
“When I was 12 years old I decided to become an anarchist… Graffiti, for me, was one of the ways to reshape the world. It was my voice to stand up as an individual for my own individual freedom, to express my own personal idea of freedom, and to stand in direct and deliberate opposition to the existing social norms/the state. What I did was about human and world development. To me, it placed importance on the spirit that exists in all of us over the material world and possessions. It was like putting what was inside of me on the outside and saying “People matter! Fuck property!!!” It is a shame that my friend Ian (HERT) was put in prison for cosmetic property damage when there is real suffering going on in the world! Walls do not have feelings, walls do not suffer, walls do not starve, and paint does not kill people. I would like to see a society free of money, capitalism, material property. A society that is free to govern itself, built on the principles of non-violence and equality. The crimes for which I am currently serving my sentence were in no way violent. To me these actions are a symbol of what true freedom means to me and they represent even the slightest possibility of something different than what currently exists. Simply, they represent change. In the state system there are hundreds of thousands who are imprisoned solely for their beliefs and their own personal ideas of morality. I am proud to say that I was imprisoned for being one who stood up against the state, and for making it clear that I will not abide by a rule I do not believe in. I remain a voice that identifies itself with liberation, equality, pacifism, truth, justice, and above all else love.
Free the creative hands and minds suppressed by prisons. Freedom for all people.
-Daniel Joseph Montano”
Daniel would unfortunately get caught up in the all too common cycle of parole violations and spend the next 9 years in and out of jail and prison. In his most recent trip back, he was also charged with 40 more counts of graffiti because he was an unfuckwithable bad-ass. In a city that literally always succeeds at scaring writers into taking deals with menacing 30-65 count indictments, Daniel decided to fight all the charges. They were dropped and he walked free earlier this month. Our city has lost somebody truly special.