Real, Unreal, And Does It Matter?

Source: Google Maps

Source: Google Maps

There’s a particular spot near Elliston Place where I’ve collected quite a bit of graffiti. It’s so popular with artists in fact that in the picture above, pulled from Google Maps, you can see some graffiti. In fact the extremely astute may recognize this piece in the lower right hand corner from a previous post:

downerI’m not sure why the area is so popular. It’s also a spot with quite a bit of history. Right across the street from the picture above is the famous Exit/In where almost everybody who’s anybody in music has played and it’s even been a spot for some other performers. An older friend tells the story of the night he was walking down Elliston and met a huge crowd of people being led out of Exit/In by a man dressed in a white suit. The man was Steve Martin, and it might have been the night he took the entire audience to McDonald’s, but that’s another story.

Pictured above, though, is another music venue, The End, but what really interests me is the courtyard next to it and behind Obie’s Pizza. The walls are covered with regularly changing murals. Here’s a picture of a recent design:

005

It looks a lot like graffiti, doesn’t it? The colors may be brighter and the designs more elaborate but it still has a distinctly graffiti style. Now here’s another view:

002The ATM sign–which to me also looks like it’s copying a hip graffiti-style look–is on the bars that separate the courtyard from the alley, keeping out the riffraff. I contacted The End to ask who did their murals. I didn’t get an answer, but what matters is I’ve still drawn this conclusion: in an area with lots of graffiti the owners wanted something that looked like graffiti that isn’t actually graffiti.

It’s easy to think of graffiti as something bad, as defacing private or public property, but what does it say when people intentionally copy–and even pay for–something that looks like graffiti?

Here’s a bit of “real” graffiti from behind The End. I don’t see that much difference.

006Seen any graffiti? Email your pictures to freethinkers@nerosoft.com. All pictures will be credited to you unless you’d rather remain anonymous. I’m easy like that.

 

8 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    I like to take photos of graffiti too, Chris, but I only share them on my blog. What does that say about me as a person? Responding to your title today: It all matters. I hope you are having a great holiday.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I hope you’re having a great holiday too. I think only sharing pictures of graffiti on your blog says that you have something to say about what you see, and that’s a great thing. We all have different perspectives and sharing them is what makes the world interesting, and what helps us understand each other better.

      Reply
  2. Margot

    Maybe it means “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Or “anything you can do, I can do better.” Maybe it’s a negative interpretation, but I’m wondering if the owners of The End want to assert some control over their environment. I suppose a nicer interpretation would be that they appreciate their surroundings and want to let the neighborhood know it.

    When I was in college at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, they couldn’t get the students to stop writing on the restroom walls in the Student Union. So they put large pieces of poster board up in each stall, and would replace them once they were filled. I really admired that spirit of compromise. It seemed to invite creativity in the students, and there was more art, poetry and political sentiment among the insults, cartoon genitalia, and declarations of love once those boards went up. I wonder what they did with the filled boards. They always made for entertaining reading in the ladies room.

    P.S. The extremely astute may also recognize the sullen reindeer on the dumpster of old cooking oil.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Maybe it means “all of the above”.
      I think the collective message board is a brilliant idea. People have a deep-seated need to express themselves and providing a space for them to do it, encouraging them to be creative, is a great thing. I’m just sorry some good stuff would inevitably be lost, but then that’s the nature of things. Even art is ephemeral.
      P.S. I didn’t expect anyone to be that astute but I appreciate it.

      Reply
  3. educational mentorship

    The train cars here are always covered in gorgeous graffiti–I love it when I have to wait at the tracks and watch them go by, thinking of all the artists who’ve tagged them. I’ll try to take a picture sometime:-)

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      One of these days I hope to visit a train yard and get pictures of some of the gorgeous graffiti on them. It’s really spectacular what people put on trains–and much better than the advertising.

      Reply
  4. Jay

    I think graffiti is crossing over into street art. Toronto has a graffiti alley that’s quite gorgeous.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That sounds fantastic. Nashville is doing something similar. There’s a neighborhood in North Nashville that hired some local graffiti artists to create murals to brighten up the area.

      Reply

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