There’s a Plaza Art Store in downtown Nashville, near Third Man Records. I like to browse there and look at all the unusual art supplies and think about what I might create if I had any talent. They have spray paint in a dizzying array of colors and used to have a sign up that said they’d need the ID of anyone who bought spray paint and would keep the information on file. It’s gone now—I guess they don’t need to anymore, but I wonder why it was ever a policy. Yes, I know, spray paint is the tagger’s medium of choice, but would the store really be liable? I get that vandalism is a crime but no one ever died from graffiti, and really the original Vandals weren’t all that bad, but that’s another story.
That sign also made me think about the legendary explosion of graffiti in New York in the ’80’s and how many of the artists, including Lee Quiñones and Keith Haring, earned respect and became well-known and collected artists, something that might not have happened if they hadn’t risked being arrested for graffiti.
The graffiti above is near that art store in Nashville and I like it because it’s really well done and also because the way its colors and lines overlap makes me think about how, in my own head, questions about the value of graffiti and public versus private space and the impulse to create art overlap and change.