Thursday, November 6, 2014
The city and the graffiti
On the east side of the river, left of the Franklin bridge, is one of my city's hotspots for good quality graffiti. There's a series of nice concrete walls, well exposed to the river and the bridge above, picturesquely situated at the top of the bluffs. There seems to be a new show of graffiti every couple of weeks. The current one is very much a mixed bag. There's a rose up there that I might like, I need to take a better look, and some small, cryptic pieces of what almost appears to be alien writing. The alien writing is distinctive and small and I recognize the artist's work from other random walls of my city. It's beautifully designed.
But however much I like the art that people painted in the wild, without hope of remuneration, and all dodging incarceration, I'd better enjoy it fast. Soon the city will come and paint everything away in a dull gray, fresh for new art. It doesn't matter if some piece is so good it deserves to stay forever. Indeed many are that good. But this is a temporary gallery, and no judgement or acclaim can change that. After a week, or two, or three at the absolute most, everything must go, buried in its sealed coffin of gray.
I cannot tell. Does my city hate this fine art? Is it lost in some endless, hopeless war on graffiti, endlessly spending time and money to paint the same walls over and over? Or is the city a dedicated curator, setting the neutral rules, impartial and dedicated, letting the artists of the city each shine forth for their time?