Saturday, July 18, 2015

Is Graffiti The New Art?

Aaron Horkey
I don't think a day goes by today when a driver, at least in the Los Angeles area, doesn't see some graffiti. You whiz by hardly giving it a thought other than thinking  those damn kids, messing up the walls again!

I used to sneer at it as someones 15 minutes of fame. I had to admire some of the places they placed it, but thought that it was, well, graffiti! They were defacing property, public and private. Now with nearly 24 hour gridlock here, you have more time to look at the work. In fact along the 110 freeway heading south and north out of town, the city, in a moment of wisdom, commissioned artists to decorate the walls because they knew someone would anyway. One famous piece on the side of a building was of an elderly women with a flowing multi-colored afghan against the stars and moon on a dark blue background. I think that is gone now because a new building was built in front of it, hiding the magical image. In many ways, this is really a loss.

Brendan Monroe
My view of that changed after we hosted a high school student from Brazil for a few weeks. He, and increasingly others thought that it was art and his aspiration was to be a famous "graffiti" artist.  This would be art just not the same as before. Much of it, if you discount gang tagging, is actually well thought out and can be quite beautiful and is beautifully painted. The shading, composition, coloring is dead on. I began to question myself as to why do I find this so offensive? Is it because it appears to deface someone property? Maybe it IS art! If it is, what a waste that is here and gone so quickly. Maybe that IS the point. I have read scathing reviews of the Impressionists by the critics of their times. I don't think you'd be allowed, even today, to use the words they did. The "new" in art is never recognized at the time and nor appreciated if it is.

David Meggs-Hook

When we went to Berlin and saw pieces of the Berlin Wall that had been saved and a huge stretch of it still upright along the highway heading to Prague, the concrete covered with graffiti, I realized that there is truly an international style that seems to span all continents. I had our friend stop and I took photos of a few sections to use for maybe my own graffiti at another time. We found another wall in Prague that actually didn't look bad though it was obvious more than one person had done the work. I think the Czech Republic doesn't like this and allows this art in a few places only.

When we were in Rapid City, SD we discovered and alley that was totally covered with graffiti. Nowhere else, just this alley. It too was a riot of colors and styles more adventuresome maybe that anything I have seen in Los Angeles.

I have long thought, use canvas, let us buy your work! They obviously need a patron, a Peggy Guggenheim to buy a few pieces from some of these artists. Obviously some of this truly is as engaging as Pollack, Klee, Miro, Calder. The is art work just not something that we are used to seeing. Oddly, we seem to enjoy chalk artwork on sidewalks and such but cringe at it on a wall. Of course, they are using spray cans with real paint and it is very hard to remove.
James Burrough

You have to laugh at how they restrict the purchase of spray cans. Every place that sells spray paint has it behind a caged, locked enclosure and you have to wait for someone to open it for you. Judging from the amount of graffiti that hasn't worked, like ever!

The Long Beach Museum of Art in homage to these artists has opened their museum to street artists and studio artists that want to be street artists and let them paint whatever they want. The exhibit opened June 26th. From these photos it sure looks like an exhibit worth seeing.
Jeff Soto

In many ways it seemed to combine a kind of realism with abstract and bold colors. Each artist has his own style yet somehow it is clear that its DNA came from the street, although in this case the best that the street has to offer. You may agree or not agree but there is a combination of Dali like exactness, fantasy and superb skill.

The article I read about this didn't say when it ends. It probably depends on weekly audiences. It did say that when this exhibit ends, the walls will be painted white again and another exhibition will take its place. Am I crazy? These and probably many other items "are" works of art. Maybe that the point. Just like on the street, it soon fades away. The Long Beach Museum is located at 12-98 19th Street, Long Beach, CA, 90803. It just may be worth a visit!

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