Tuesday, August 11, 2015

(Street) Art Is All Around Us

In my mind, there is a vast difference between a gang tagging their territories like a dog peeing on a light pole, fire hydrant or fence marking his space, and elaborate, often thoughtful graffiti art found on freeway walls, railroad cars and other places where the artist(s) hope their vision will be seen. Along the I-10 freeway in Los Angeles scenes greet us all the way into the city center. You gotta love those retaining walls -spaces just begging for inspiration!

I remember the huge and last remaining wall as we drove from Berlin to Prague that had been spared until the construction project behind it was finished. Every inch of that wall, the wall that separated East and West Berlin, was covered with what at the time I called graffiti. but am beginning to accept as modern art. We even stopped and I took pictures.

It's rare that art makes leaps such as this until we started seeing elaborate and often amazing work that taken seriously and carefully could be considered a step beyond abstract art with added highlights of fantasy. The Long Beach Museum of Art just opened a show entirely devoted to street art except it is now on their interior walls.

Just as Turner's later paintings influenced the now loved art of
Smugone from Lord of the Rings movie
Impressionism, much of this "new" art, graffiti to many, could easily be influenced by computer games that are awash with fantastical creatures and images that couldn't but help influence these artists. It might not be a bad idea to look into the artists making the printed and computer art that is almost as real as life itself. The transition from games to the big screen has been amazing. Some artist, obviously a Tolkien fan, created an amazing image from the films on a blank and cracked wall. These artists are original in their use of images and surfaces. Some are very serious and others are funny. 

Paint isn't the only media used. I am sure many of you have seen chalk images either in person or at various fairs, contests or on the Internet. They are incredibly detailed and create ephemeral worlds that will soon be gone with the next rain. Every Father's Day weekend at the Paseo
Street Chalk Art
Colorado in Pasadena, California, the entire mall is given over to chalk artists who have about two days to create their own personal worlds. Many are beautiful and you almost cry at the thought they are here today and certainly will be gone tomorrow!

Look closely at this cave. Would you dare walk over it? Doesn't it look real? Even more than real. You notice passersby avoid the chance!

However, some art is not in places where great numbers of people will see them. Some, like the painting on the right, done by an artist on a sidewalk, differ from what they create in their studio because they are small images done on the street, locally. Here a little gremlin is helping sweep up the leaves of autumn. Simple, funny and elegant in its minimal design. Don't we all wish for our own minion? When you consider, think of all the time and effort it has taken to think about then create these scenes. Is it any different than creating a painting? Any less work?

Wall art in Vitoria Gasteiz, Spain
I think that the time for sneering is over. The body of work decorating walls along freeways, office buildings, homes even schools IS art and should be recognized for what it is. The tragedy is that it will soon be gone. It cannot be preserved and being subject to the elements is certain to fade and disappear. I can think of several amazing scenes, one, the famous scene of the ocean lapping at the coast of Arizona, a freeway ramp all that is left of what was California. The last time I saw it, it had faded so much you could barely see its details.

This painting on the wall of an apartment in Spain is literally a work of art. Reminiscent of Southwest Art here in the United States, it recalls Native American elements plus those of Mexico and the great Southwest. Who wouldn't be proud to come home to a place decorated such as this? It is like living in a museums painting!

Look around. We are inundated with art all the time and don't even realize it. Is it all good? Heavens no. Much of it though, is and deserves the kind of recognition that we reserve for famous artists. If we can be convince them to paint on more permanent media, they will have a legacy that will last and rival the artists we revere today!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please check other articles I've written. ALL are considerations of the designs of life and what we do with them.

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