I’m not sure what made me look back as we were headed down the 440 parkway. Maybe it’s my habitual looking out for graffiti. The other night I was rewatching The Matrix and kept noticing graffiti I’d never noticed before in the various urban locations and thinking how terrible it was, but that’s another story. The triangles off to the left certainly caught my attention, but if I hadn’t looked back over my shoulder I might have missed the owl painted on the bridge. I wouldn’t have known to look for it when we were driving the other direction, which is when I snapped this picture.
The placement, in fact, seems almost careless. It’s as though the artist isn’t interested in the work being seen because most drivers or even passengers aren’t likely to see it. They’re going to be focused on the road ahead, or the exit. I love this piece. It’s well done and funny—the owl looks like it’s about to swoop down on a passing car. Maybe it was just a matter of convenience. Maybe this was the only place the artist could get to, but I want to believe the placement is intentional. I want to believe the artist purposely intended for people to miss, or almost miss, this work, to see it out of the corner of their eye, to look for it as they went by again. It’s a little like rewatching a movie. With each pass it’s a little different. Maybe when you look again you’ll see something you missed before.
I feel so cynical when I read your posts about graffiti. Where you see an artist’s work, I see a thug’s work. But the owl throws me for a loop. It’s hard to think “funny thug.”
Some of it–mainly the scribbles that either seem random or that might be gang tags–I see as thug’s work too. I look at it and think, “Why did you have to do that?” But then I see something like this and I can’t call it anything but art. It’s enhanced the otherwise bland space. But it’s complicated too because I think an artist that clever could have gotten permission instead of breaking the law.