Most art—the stuff you see in museums, anyway, is intended to last. I think the artists themselves hope their work will stand the test of time. Michelangelo, Phidias, and even Picasso must have thought they were carving out a little niche of eternity, creating things that would still be around long after they were dust. There are exceptions—explaining pictures to a dead hare, for instance, has got to be a one-time thing—but paintings, sculptures, and other works will hopefully last.
For graffiti artists it’s different. They’ve got to figure that anything they make will be wiped out, that it won’t last. They’re not working in a studio and they don’t have a chance of getting space in a museum. That makes a work like this one even more impressive to me.
The artist put time and thought into this mural, and while it’s been there for several months there’s no telling how much longer it will last. The building that currently has this work on it is next to a construction site. There was a church there until a couple of years ago when the congregation decided they didn’t like the neighborhood and sold it. Then it was knocked down and some apartments are going up there. This secondary building still stands, for now, but I don’t think it’ll be long before it goes too.
This is just a couple of blocks away from a public library, a consignment place that sells weird things, an old bookstore, a fantastic little coffee shop that’s basically the size of a walk-in closet, and a few thrift shops and some other things. It’s a neat little area. I know it will all change eventually, but I hope it doesn’t happen for a very long time.
As for the mural itself, well, every time I look at it I hear Indiana Jones: It belongs in a museum.
Is it a word? It looks like a stylized ‘R’,’E’, sumptin, sumptin.
And thanks for the links. I like cool links in a story, it adds something. Is that the Elvis you put on here, a while ago?
I think it’s just an abstract design. And I’m glad you liked the links. I really do believe graffiti should be treated as serious art, well, some of it anyway, so I try to provide some context for it. And, yes, that’s the same Elvis. The store is called “Cool Stuff, Weird Things” and the have plenty of both.
I can’t agree more, Chris!! Graffiti has been so under-appreciated for decades but it is the most raw form of expression. I am so thankful for artists like Banksy who have brought light to the talent of these artists. I love how someone can create something that they know will be impermanent but may mean something to people, if even for a short while. Great post!!
That’s great that you mentioned Banksy because I forgot to mention him last week. My friend who pointed out the Steve Martin faces thought they were inspired by Banksy, and maybe they were. At least in some places graffiti gets some respect. In New York at least as far back as the ’80’s there was a recognition of graffiti artists and a project to give them studio space and materials so they could make works to be hung in museums. And artists like Basquiat and Haring started with graffiti.
I LOVE graffiti. This is awesome!
Graffiti is the only thing that makes getting stopped at the train tracks worthwhile.
One of these days I want to go to a train yard and take pictures of all the great graffiti on the rail cars. Maybe I’ll get lucky and meet an artist and get to ask some of those nagging questions I have. Some of the most elaborate graffiti I see is on rail cars, and I wonder how the artists did it without getting caught and before the train started moving.
It’s now a matter of how much time I need to explain all the things I loved in this post, including “How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare,” the graffiti, and your writing. This post made me want to go to a museum today, where I belong.
And you’re very lucky to be close to a number of great museums. I hope you’ll find one where you see some things you love too. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is one I often see listed as the location of a lot of great art, and would be close to the top of my list of things to do if I ever visit there.