Sometimes I go looking for graffiti, or public art—and the distinction between those two can get pretty fuzzy—and sometimes I just find it. Sometimes I find it because my definition of art is so broad it includes things most people don’t consider art, but if all my years of looking at and reading about art have taught me anything it’s that “art” isn’t easily defined, and I doubt that even if I did become a professional art critic or art historian I’d feel differently. In fact I did once ask an academic what it took to be a professional art historian and he said, “At the very least a Master of Fine Arts degree,” and it was kind of funny to me that anyone ever thought art was something you could master, but that’s another story.
To get back to my original point, and I should because now that I think about it most of the time I don’t find graffiti by looking for it—I just find it, like the example above. I wasn’t looking for graffiti when I found it. I was on my way to a movie and parked in the very lowest level in the far corner of a parking garage even though it meant climbing three flights of stairs, but I was fine with that. I needed the exercise, although I’d really need the exercise even more after a large popcorn. I just like to park a long distance from wherever it is I’m going because I like the exercise and I never know what I’ll see on the way, and it comes in handy during the holiday season when I don’t have much choice.
I was really struck by how someone had not only tagged this storage shed but done so with a lot of flourish, clearly giving it some real thought. They took what was a strictly utilitarian, mass-produced object, something that someone had probably designed without much thought about anything beyond making it as cheap as possible, and they gave it aesthetic appeal.
Something I didn’t even think about until, well, now, is that it might have been in the southeast corner of the parking garage. Maybe there was even another one on the other side that the same person embellished with “North East”. I would know if I’d just bothered to look.