Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New York Graffiti- Art or Nuisance?

When I was thinking about New York and what I wanted to see and do, two of the strangest requests could have been  1) to go to a bodega (I don't know-chalk it up to a fascination with New York crime dramas, can't make it through a season without a bodega crime) and 2) graffiti.  So Paige took me to a bodega...

Maybe, it was a little bit different than what I had envisioned...in a very good way : )

And she took me to see some graffiti...

(AP photo/ David Goldman)

A few months before I went to New York, I was watching ART 21 on PBS.  One of the artists being featured was Margaret Kilgallen, an installation and graffiti artist.  She said something that stuck with me- “I think when I explained graffiti to my parents, I compared it to the barrage of images we see every day, especially advertising, and how on billboards or corner stores or anywhere - it's absolutely everywhere, and yet it doesn't bother anybody. We completely block it out as if we don't see it, but for some reason we don't think of it as garbage. And instead maybe we look at graffiti, or the public looks at graffiti, and sees garbage and ugliness, and I always wonder why they don't look at the billboards...That's like mind garbage. It's like commercials on T.V., and yet nobody ever questions that. That is so a part of their view of the world every single day.”

From that  day forward, I have not been able to look at billboards, or graffiti for that matter, the same way.

Would you rather see art... I'm not talking about street war "tagging", where someone spray paints their name or their gang's name on the side of a building or a train, I mean true works of art....

"Fighting Bulls" mural by Gaia (2nd Ave. and 3rd St.)

a piece by Gaia under the High Line at 20th St.- a "tagged" truck driving by.  Can definitely tell the difference between the two art forms.

Os Gemeos mural at Bowery and Houston

Banksy   Grand St. and Wooster in Soho

...in spaces that have been run down, overlooked, and blend into the landscape of pollution and trash...converted into an outside gallery that inspires thought and contemplation....

or something beautiful, that has been interrupted by the pollution of advertisement?

I am not trying to get too deep here.  I just wanted to say that there was plenty of spray paint in New York City.  And I know that I don't live there...but what I saw seemed to be part of a broader landscape of self-expression in a city that is overflowing with people and constantly moving ...graffiti seemed to be an advertisement about the people rather than consumerism.

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