American Graffiti.

Some people call it ugly. Some people call it art. I call it urban enhancement.

What Do You Want?

wallorchidWhat’s the difference between graffiti and a wall mural? One’s wanted, the other isn’t. Yes, graffiti is wanted by the artist, but a wall mural is wanted by someone else. I wonder, though, how often someone commissions a mural or other work of art and then thinks, “Well, that’s not exactly what I had in mind” when they get it. That’s one advantage of graffiti: the artists never have to worry about letting anyone down but themselves.

 

 

Here are a few other works I’m pretty sure were commissioned or requested. I hope the artist didn’t let anyone down.

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A Tree Grows In Nashville.

001I’m pretty sure this is graffiti. It’s on a wall near Nashville’s Centennial Park. If you’re familiar with the area it’s next to the entrance to Rotier’s restaurant, a little hole in the wall diner that’s been there since dirt was clean. People who went to the original centennial exposition in 1897 dined at Rotier’s afterwards. Businesses have come and gone but Rotier’s is eternal. Man fears time, but time fears Rotier’s.

This is not really an advertisement for the restaurant I won’t name again, especially since I’ve never eaten there. What really interests me is this graffiti. Someone put some thought and effort into creating this mini-mural. Many people see graffiti as ugly and I guess a lot of it is, but this, subtle, almost unnoticeable as it is, makes me stop and think about how the area has changed and grown. Maybe that was the artist’s intent. Maybe the artist was just somebody who felt compelled to paint a nice picture of a tree going up a wall.

Here’s a picture or Rotier’s to give you some idea of its antebellum charm. It really has survived decades of changes to the area.

rotiers

Why Don’t You Ask Him Who’s The Latest On His Throne?

I suspect this is the name of a local graffiti artist, or the tag for a gang whose members are really big Fleetwood Mac fans.

Also I always used to mishear the line “Why don’t you ask him who’s the latest on his throne?” as “Why don’t you ask him when it’s gonna storm? Hey, it makes about as much sense as the rest of the lyrics.

tusk1 tusk

It’s Nice. I Think.

Bathroom graffiti is always the most vile, deranged, racist, bigoted, homophobic stuff you’ll find. At least that’s the case most of the time. Once I saw a phone number with the obligatory “call for a good time”, but under that someone had written, “No! Don’t! Gives terrible blow jobs!” That still makes me laugh.

And then there was this that I captured in an Alabama rest stop.

Saxon?

It’s etched into the mirror which took someone a lot of time and effort. It can be a little hard to read even if you click the picture to embiggen it, so I’ve done my best to recreate it:

Saxon!I would assume this was some kind of white supremacy statement if not for the peace symbol. Maybe the halo and the triangle that gives the N an upward pointing arrow is a memorial to someone named Saxon. If that’s the case I think it’s a nice tribute, and one that will last longer than most graffiti. You can’t paint over the mirror or scrub that off.

Completely unrelated: The Bloggess spotted some much more hilarious graffiti. That’s one more reason it’s such a shame office supply stores all over the place are closing. For a little comfort here’s another bit of graffiti from a restaurant bathroom:

031

Dumped On.

Dumpsters are easy targets. They’re out of the way and not really owned by the resident of where they’re usually placed. And since they hold garbage it doesn’t really matter if they look trashy. Is that a fair description of this dumpster, though? There’s something impressive about the number of artists who’ve used it as a canvas.

011 012 013And then there’s this strategically placed sticker. This is social commentary on the level of—I’m not kidding—Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. It’s ironic and kind of funny, but also sad when you think about the real implications.

014

Rock On.

Technically this isn’t graffiti, unless you define graffiti as any kind of defilement of public property or signage. I’d call that a stretch. I’d also call this sign awesome. I love it that Nashville wants to promote its live music venues by, well, designating them as live music venues, but better than that I love musical groups using that sign to promote themselves.

livemusic

Who Are You?

Who is the artist? What did they mean by this particular work? I know I’m going out on a limb treating graffiti as art, but I don’t know what else to call it. And some of it I find just as fascinating as something I’d see in a museum–maybe more so.

012013Who made this? Is Medusa a specific artist or is there a Medusa gang? Do members have to get stoned? Joking aside, what does the logo underneath the name mean? I see something like this and I want to know more. It stops me in my tracks.

medusa2

The Failure of Inspiration.

I’m sure it’s happened to every person who does anything creative: inspiration hits, you can do no wrong, everything that you’re about to make is going to be worthy of a Nobel prize, and then, just as quickly as it came on, it dries up.

I think that’s what happened here.

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I feel for the artist. Sometimes you spread your wings, leap from the perch, and fall flat on your face.

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