I took this picture last year and put it aside because I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. I think it’s a really interesting piece of graffiti. The elaborate font is striking as is the color choice. Compared to the other graffiti around it this piece is really something special. But what does it mean?
It’s in an area that’s undergoing rapid development, right across the street from J.J.’s coffee shop (where I found some other interesting graffiti) in fact, where new apartments are going up all over the place and competing for space with restaurants, and local restaurants are competing with chains muscling in. It’s on the side of a building that was a small real estate office before it was taken over by a nearby comic book store that used it for overflow stock and then it was a tattoo studio. Now the building’s undergoing serious renovation and while they’re not knocking down the walls there’s no telling what’s going in there next but given the area’s gentrification it’s probably something expensive.
So is it a statement of futility in the face of local history and culture being ground up into a bland “nope burger”? Or am I overreaching in an effort to make sense of something that’s meant to be purposely senseless?
I’m going to get a little meta-critical here and say that the major role of a critic is to make sense of culture, to explain things in a way that will make them fit into a cultural narrative. That’s what makes professional critics useful even though the only difference between a professional critic’s opinion and the opinion of somebody on the street is the professional critic’s opinion is usually better informed. Better informed doesn’t necessarily mean better, but that’s another story.
And even though professional critics are paid to offer opinions I think even they sometimes have to admit they don’t know what to say about something.
I’m not a professional critic, just a guy with some opinions who can embellish those opinions with what I know about art, but I look at this and I have no idea what to say except that I like it. Professional critics may feel differently.