Friday, August 19, 2011

The Language of the Streets

"Since the 1960s, the appeal of street art and graffiti has been the way it’s wrenched creativity away from academia and carved out a place for itself and its audience. A visual phenomenon that made its way from the subway cars of New York City to the freight yards of south Texas, this crafted conversation wasn’t judged by any existing criteria, and it appeared whether or not anyone else cared for the subject matter.

Many times, like their audience, these artists weren’t schooled in proper protocol. The work had a language of its own. It was appropriate to hang a painting over the freeway just because someone could get it there."

Appearing in an LA Weekly article, these words encompass the feel of a show I recently visited at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (LAMOCA) titled, "Art In The Streets."

It turned out to be the biggest show in the museum's history.  According to LA Weekly, "a  significant contribution to that number came from the Free Mondays program sponsored by Banksy, UK street artist extraordinaire," who is the mystery character in the widely acclaimed film, "Exit Through The Gift Shop." (see video)

And ALL of the art has a message.  A deep, political one.  Whether its a word, or phrase, spray painted so quickly and dripping, or an image that provokes meaningful thoughts, graffiti definitely has it's own distinct language.

It's the language of the streets.  The language of the self-taught, the street scholars.

It's the language of the senses.  The sounds of the night, the passing sirens, the silent moon watching from above. The smell of the fresh paint.  The beating in the artists' hearts.  The taste of sweat.  The touch of thought.  ALL on that rigid natural surface, wherever it shows its face. 
Graffiti is the story of a generation wiser than it appears.  Visually infiltrating our minds, planting words and images, similar to hieroglyphs stamped solidly somewhere in the back of our consciouses.


Every piece of art you encounter will spark up a conversation with you.  For me, I prefer a intelligence with an edge, an that's graffiti all the way. 

See what you dialogue you can pull from the images I posted below.  All are pieces on display during, "Art In The Streets."

When I came face-to-face with these pieces, I felt strangely and wildly moved.  Yet, had I encountered them all separately in their natural places, like huge city walls, on doors of tenements, in quiet nooks and sneaky crannies, on the sides of train cars, and a river's barrier walls...

If they appeared to me in those places, then I am certain, their messages would change.

That is the beauty of graffiti.  It's constantly changing and so are we. So before painting over it, give yourself a good, long moment to try and understand it.  It's definitely saying something.

Don't forget it.

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