Sunday, July 29, 2007


In the past I have bitched and moaned about how few people actually make the effort to see art in its so-called natural environment (the gallery) when, if you think about it from a pure creativity standpoint, commercial gallery art usually has an overriding economic component. My own struggles with the capitalism of art go something along the lines of "my painting is too avant garde for mainstream galleries and too mainstream for avant garde galleries" as if all that matters is paying the coal man and feeding the baby. I'm such a loser.

Maybe that's why I have a growing fascination with street art, its real natural environment. Art without a price tag, baby. A couple of months ago I got so excited about this exhibition I even stupidly emailed an old friend who lives within an hour's train ride of London to see if he'd give me some local feedback on it. Stupid because he thinks I'm a stalker (maybe the 50 hang-up calls/month from Canada on the phone bill are all wrong numbers) and has made the wise decision to not answer. I can't think why he avoids me, except for maybe the fact that he's prettier than me and once upon a time I thought his acerbic wit was the perfect counterpoint to my straight man. He showed me what he thought of that by going off and marrying a girl whose only redeeming quality was that she had great boots. And believes him when he explains the phone bill. But I digress.

Okay, so grafitti art is hardly an ivory tower of pure creativity any more. In the '80s Basquiat and Haring showed us how to make the transition from angst-ridden street yoof (Basquiat anyway) to canonised artist. But we all know what happened to them, both dead by age 30. Maybe it's like putting a lion in a cage for the public to throw food at. I'd find self-destructive ways to escape, too.

Enter today, where there are a hundred artists as good as Basquiat out there whose work will never make it onto canvas and into galleries. A lot of it is worthless, but sometimes the simplest grafitti packs the biggest punch. Before it was removed, the spray-painted phrase 'teech me' (one of the e's was backwards) on one of the outside walls of my son's school brought a smile every time I saw it. Now you don't even need to pocket your .45 and venture into the slums to see great street art with blogs/sites like Wooster Collective, Streetsy and Banksy. These are so good I flipped through every page. The variety is endless. The art that affected me most was the beautiful:

the profound:

but most of all:


Blogger dinahmow said...

Bugger! Now I have to add these to my daily perusal.
Yes, you have hit this particular nail squarely and I'm willing to bet that there will be more than a few readers' hammers driving it home.
Sadly, I suspect the galleries will(in the main) still be driven by grubby coin.
Great post, Andrea, with great art.

29/7/07 7:39 p.m.  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Interesting post, Andrea... I appreciate good graffiti art as well - as long as it's not in my backyard. Yep, NIMbY! Although maybe if it was as cool as one of these, I would leave it.

Denver actually has a law that citizens must remove graffiti within a certain timeframe from their properties or be fined. That sounds wrong to me, what if you like it?

It seems that there's crossover between gang tagging and graffiti "art" and the DPD doesn't tolerate gang activity so it all has to go.

29/7/07 9:08 p.m.  
Blogger dragonflyfilly said...

yeah, very interesting Post.

29/7/07 9:57 p.m.  
Blogger Alina Chau said...

Inspiring post!

29/7/07 10:43 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

enjoyed the post. I need someone in my life to remind me that there is a world of beauty out there, right where I am standing.
Loved the stalking admission.
Her boots must be really nice.

30/7/07 7:04 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Di: Me, too -- the last thing I need is another blog to keep up with!

Cynthia: I understand the need to keep certain areas clean. I don't want graffiti, no matter how amazing, on every surface, but places like alleys, etc --- YES!

Dragonflyfilly & Alina: Thanks.

Anonymous: OK, so maybe I was overstating the stalking thing just a *bit*...

30/7/07 8:36 a.m.  
Blogger Ian Lidster said...

I get very torn about graffiti (or street art), much of it I see as just malicious vandalism, but some of it, I agree, is quite brilliant. On the way out of the railway station in Victoria there are a number of factory walls that have been festooned with some of the most brilliant stuff imagineable. But, it's one of those things like street musicians. I've listened to some awful crap, but some of the buskers (from whom I've bought CDs on a couple of occasions) should have major recording contracts. As some street artists should be in galleries.

30/7/07 11:15 a.m.  
Blogger susan said...

good art knows no boundries, no labels, it just hits you right >there<
loving livin with your art. of course until it leaves us for a better - more permanent home.

30/7/07 12:01 p.m.  
Blogger nadine said...

The photos are fantastic. Great thought provoking post. Must set aside some time to wander through the websites...
The first time I read the sentence, I read "... whose only redeeming quality was that she had great boobs." Well, who knows. Maybe those too...

30/7/07 2:35 p.m.  
Blogger Merisi said...

"Do not enter" had me in stitches. Thank you. :-)
(Sorry, close to midnight, so I only looked at the pictures for now.)

30/7/07 2:50 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Ian: In response to yours: I get very torn about art galleries; much of it I see as just derivative crap. :) Seriously, though, like you I love the democratisation of art, music, writing, theatre etc. that exists now. Unfortunately there will always be a flip side but without yin no yang, right?

Susan: Ah Susan. If I could just make an art buyer out of one art talker, I'd be a happy woman. Talk is cheap.

Nadine: And as for Benny and the Jets: "She had electric boobs, a mohair suit..."

Merisi: Most people come to read the pictures only. :)

31/7/07 6:35 a.m.  
Blogger Lapin Poulain said...

This is the most actual and different form of art. Those are real artists, out of the art system. When I was in Vancouver last year, I noticed how many wonderful graffitis there were in your city. And they inspired me some very nice pics! :) We have some here too. I should take some pics...Hhehhe. My faves of yours are the first (wow) and the last! Thanks for those images!
mmm...Maybe I'm gonna take my spray paint and..... *teehee*

31/7/07 7:08 a.m.  
Blogger CS said...

I love grafitti and other kinds of street art. I think of it as an unexpected gifts. But you'll be happy to know I'm making a road trip to an actual art museum (the High, in Atlanta) this weekend.

31/7/07 6:05 p.m.  
Blogger Bibi said...

I must say, I love saying the phrase Avant Garde ... it sounds so pretentious. And I love the scribble on the brick wall that gives the definition ...

31/7/07 9:13 p.m.  
Blogger Merisi said...

"Most people come to read the pictures only"


Honestly, there's enough to be seen to fill your eye and heart, but as you know, I usually do read the text too. (Understanding it is another question, as you know also. *giggle*).

1/8/07 3:40 a.m.  
Blogger ziggi said...

I love the first one!
I rather admire graffiti and have seen some spectacular train tagging - how DO they do that?

1/8/07 3:46 a.m.  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

A couple of decades ago a museum in NYC brought in some street graffiti artists. The museum gave them cans of spray paint and huge blank walls and told them to have at it. It seemed that the experiment failed. Apparently one of the key ingredients was the adrenalin rush of getting caught. As for myself I once did a painting directly on the wall of my NYC apartment using the same style and techniques that the ancient cave painters used. The difference was that I painted buses and cabs instead og bison.

1/8/07 7:54 a.m.  
Anonymous corine said...

Whenever I encounter street art, I feel that there is hope for the human race.

1/8/07 9:13 a.m.  
Blogger andrea joseph's sketchblog said...

he he! great post! I especially like the Tony Blair one.

1/8/07 2:35 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Lapin: You need opposable thumbs to operate a spray can! :)

CS: Ooo -- maybe a blog post to follow?

Bibi: That one made me laugh out loud.

Merisi: You are a top-notch blog reader. :)

Ziggi: I was thinking the same thing while watching a freight train pass yesterday.

Ed: I would've loved to have seen your apaprtment wall -- what an absolutely perect theme!

Corine: Me, too! :)

Andrea J: I put that one up especially for my Britreaders.

1/8/07 2:47 p.m.  
Blogger Alda said...

Excellent post, Andrea, and loved the photos.

1/8/07 3:58 p.m.  
Anonymous AscenderRisesAbove said...

Fun graffiti art! I saw a documentry on Basquiat a few months ago. His life was a piece of art; lived on the street for awhile, and in the movie he seemed very confused about the hoopla. Amazing mosaic of your art! You must be proud of all that work

1/8/07 8:57 p.m.  
Blogger Lapin Poulain said...

Andrea! As you have seen, when we met, I have opposable hands and feet! *hop* And I would certainly have a little from my friend...Hhehhehee! :)

2/8/07 7:35 a.m.  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

very good post, enjoyed it! There is a little boy down the street in the wood hood and he makes cardboard clouds with little raindrop cutouts attached with strings and he weights them and throws them onto the telephone wires where they dangle in the breeze and art up the park. A fun version of graffiti.

9/8/07 9:37 p.m.  
Anonymous Marie said...

woow, nice street-art picutres ! I like them.

19/8/07 10:37 a.m.  

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