Ones That Got Away.

One of the most frustrating things for me as a graffiti collector is that so much of it gets away undocumented. It’s even harder when it’s something really amazing, something truly beautiful, that then disappears before I can get a picture of it. Yes, I have gotten some things. There was this:

This is what it looks like now:

It still annoys me that there are some truly spectacular examples of graffiti that were wiped out before I could capture them. You’ve probably heard the saying that writing about art is like dancing about architecture. There’s a lot of dispute about who first said that, although Quote Investigator has done a pretty good job of tracing it back—maybe—to Martin Mull. Every time I hear that I think I’d really like to see some dancing about architecture, so I’m going to write about art, and to make it even worse I’m going to write about art that no longer exists.

First there’s this spot near Powell and Armory Avenue in Nashville, where the road loops around. For a few months the word LOVE and an enormous heart was painted on the wall. The letters covered the wall which should give you some idea how big it was. In fact the whole thing was so huge you could see it from the I-65 overpass, and while I’m not often out that way every time I saw it I thought, I’ve really got to get a picture of that. The problem is every time either my wife was driving and there was no good angle for me to snap a picture or I was driving and, well, I like to keep at least one hand on the wheel. Last Friday as we were going that way I noticed the entire thing had been painted over with a drab gray.

Source: Google Maps. I don’t have any pictures of my own.

Nearby, on I-65 itself, or on the side really, there was a huge mural of tropical flowers. This is the one I think I will always regret the most. Anthuriums, orchids, hibiscus, and maybe even some that were purely fictional, in vermillion, lavender, aqua, and emerald jostled together on this wall under an on-ramp.

Source: Google Maps. Again no pictures of my own, but you can see where it was and how big it was.

It was beautiful and always made me happy. It brightened up the area, but someone, maybe some petty public worker, decided it needed to be wiped out. You can see where it’s been painted over and that might give you some idea how big it was.

And that’s the interesting thing. They were both large works in areas that are really difficult to get to—even dangerous. Whoever made them put a lot of work and thought into them. They gave these dull spots life and color. Now that they’re gone they remind me how ephemeral some things are.

10 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    Important things to mull over, Chris.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m glad you’re here to help me mull them over.

      Reply
  2. Mila

    I’m not going to lie, I’d love to see some dancing about architecture.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I would too! I can even think of some architecture that seems to have been inspired by dance, like Antoni Gaudi’s buildings, or Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water” house. Well, that’s about it because my knowledge of architecture is pretty limited, but that’s why we need dancing about architecture. It’ll be fun to watch and educational.

      Reply
  3. Allison

    I know the exact Love Graffiti you’re talking about!! I kept thinking I wanted to get a picture of it and send it to you. I hate that it got covered up.

    I learned in high school that they found graffiti on the walls in Pompeii – and that it was very similar to the kinds of things you’d see today. Bodily functions, so-and-so was here, my girlfriend is a loose woman – and I thought that was pretty amazing.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I appreciate you thinking of me, and I know it was in a really difficult place to get a photograph of.
      Yeah, Pompeii’s graffiti was some pretty impressive stuff. In fact I still find it funny that graffiti is looked down on unless it’s really, really old. It’s like the line from Indiana Jones about how if you take a cheap watch and bury it for ten thousand years it becomes a priceless artifact.

      Reply
  4. mydangblog

    I think the worst thing for me is seeing an amazing piece of graffiti somewhere while I’m travelling and not having a chance to take a picture of it, knowing that I’ll never be back there again. That happened a couple of times in Iceland, where the graffiti is gorgeous and all Vikings and longboats, but we were driving on the highway and couldn’t pull over.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s so frustrating when you see cool graffiti and can’t pull over. It doesn’t really compare to Vikings and longboats but just the other day my wife and I were driving on the highway and went under a bridge and just as we went under it I noticed this really cool face someone had painted in an almost hidden part of the bridge. No getting a picture of that. It really intrigues me, though. How did those artists get to such a difficult spot in the first place?
      And now I want to use Google Maps to go all around Iceland’s highway to see if their cameras captured any graffiti.

      Reply
  5. Spoken Like A True Nut

    You’ve reminded me of a local wall poet who took exception to their work being painted over. Their rebuttal brought a smile to my face on many a drive home until it, too, was inevitably wiped out by a coat of cheerless dull grey.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s poignant and more than a little bit sad, especially since that’s one of those drab areas that needs a little touching up with something interesting. And that wall poet also has really nice handwriting.

      Reply

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