While getting dressed to meet up for lunch with my pal, J-Cray, and her lovely out-of-town guest, Jamieoria, I caught a bit of reporter Rita Braver's piece on graffiti as art on Sunday Morning.
I've seen some good looking graffiti in my day, so I will agree that some of the taggers are very artistic and have talent.
It's the way they go about it that ruins it for me. For example, Van Gogh's had a touch of notoriety for cutting off his own ear; it pretty well tainted his image as a serious artist for a time. To me, when a modern day graffiti artist takes his or her bits of creativity and slaps it on someone else's property, they've tainted their art, too - most people wou;d consider that vandalism. The focus will soon shift from any serious discussion of art to bail and restitution.
Mayor Bloomberg, do you have my back?
In spite of the wealth of graffiti I've seen in the good old USA, it was European graffiti that really turned me against it.
I'm a huge history nut, and I had the opportunity to go to Europe and see some of the historical sites that I had read about my whole life. Viewing places such as the Vatican, the palace of Monaco, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Pompeii was an absolute thrill. I'm nerdy like that.
It was in Naples, Italy, that I first realized that everywhere I went had graffiti as high as an average person could reach. Once that realization clicked in my head, I couldn't ignore it and I started to fume at the thought of castles, museums, beautiful cities and archaeological sites recklessly defaced so someone could make a rude comment about Giovanni's sister Carla. Go knock on Carla's door and tell her, scaredy cat! I hope Giovanni is home and in a foul mood.
It's not like the taggers didn't know it was wrong - one of the points they made in the televised report was that the graffiti "artists" had to do the tagging in the dark, pumped up with adrenaline from fear of being caught - they were ready to run at a moment's notice...and we all know why. They mentioned that most of the time they used stolen paint as they were defacing someone else's property. Hmm. I'm still thinking it's like a crime, dude. I'll bet it's a crime even if your name looks really, really awesome with striped letters eight feet tall and stars shooting out from the bottom.
There's a logical compromise here. Graffiti enthusiasts could tag all they want on paper...and actually purchase art supplies. We could have that paper bound in a convenient spiral and call it a sketchbook. No, really, I think we could make this happen. I'm going to look into this new idea for these so called sketchbooks.
If you still think it is pure art, you're allowed to think that - this is a free country...unless you want to be free to NOT have your property defaced...'cause that's art. In fact, I have a box of partially used spray paint cans that I would like to bring to YOUR house, so I can paint your car or garage. Oh, I forgot to warn you that not all of the graffiti looks artsy; some is just vulgar and a monument to bad spelling and tough break ups. It's a crap shoot, but I can guarantee you some kind of graffiti.