There’s a lot of terrible graffiti out there. Here I am trying to make a case that at least some graffiti really is art and deserves recognition but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that most of it just seems to undermine that case by being something hastily scribbled without any kind of thought. I could spend a lot of time talking about challenging aesthetics and intellectualizing the social and philosophical ramifications of even the simplest tag but on a gut level most of it just makes me say, “Really? Why’d you even bother?”
And then I see something that just takes my breath away. And sometimes it’s something I probably would have missed if I hadn’t been looking for it. Two partial gold skeletons embrace on a wall. It looks partially stenciled and partially painted. Someone put some serious thought and work into this. Who? And why?
The work is eerily reminiscent of the Hiroshima Lovers from Alan Moore’s Watchmen, although the figures are incomplete and the use of color instead of just black is striking. As is the pose. They could be embracing or they could be dancing the tango.
What’s also striking is the placement. The artist put this work right in the middle a window that’s long since been covered up. The outline of the window is still there and provides a kind of frame.
I don’t know if the BP above the figures is the artist’s signature, although that seems kind of coarse for such a thoughtful work and one with such thoughtful placement. It’s also in an alley behind a building.
You can see some other graffiti there. It’s a very popular area and just doing a casual count I found at least a dozen more distinct tags, some by artists I recognize from other part of town, although mostly on the other side of the building. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic but I like to think the lovers haven’t been covered up out of respect for such an amazing piece of work.