Thursday, May 08, 2008

Paint Your Own Wagon, Homey

The Low Art of the Graffito

I've always looked at it this way; as long as it's not painted across the side of my house, I can live with it, even sort of appreciate it. Sort of.

Hey, I reside in a big, grown up city so who am I to judge what is and is not a proper canvas for an aspiring artist? After all, I'm just a Chicago realtor trying to do my own thing in the same concrete jungle and am hardly a patron (of the Arts) myself. Anyway, Art (low or otherwise), iconoclasm, and vandalism have always made for strange bedfellows. Think Jean-Michel Basquiat. Think The Splasher.

And again, as long as it's not scribbled or sprayed across the side of my own crib...or my fence, (or my car, for that matter) I'm Kool and the Gang, nowatimsayin? (Do you know what I'm saying?) You see, true Grafitti, in my opinion, is not a random act of vandalsim. There are a whole heap of obstacles and factors to overcome before the multi-colored Word ever reaches the eyes of the pondering public, those haters. There seems to be some thought behind the ubiquitous late night deed that goes beyond mere 'tagging' (which is vandalism and does warrant a crack in the knees with a ball bat). Kool is not with the Gang on tagging, nowatimean?

First: The young, urban artisan must obtain his materials; aerosol cans of mulit-colored spray paint (a behemoth feat in itself according to City of Chicago ordinance). Clearly, there are laws in place. I tried to buy Rustoleum at Home Depot the other day (to touch up a rusty porch railing, not paint my masterpiece under mercury illumination) and almost got arrested. I was ordered to the city limits then escorted over the township line into the suburb of Skokie where Rustoleum is just another can of something that is marked up double the MSRP because it is not available (10 feet away) in the city. Okay, I exaggerate, but not overly. It's not unlike making a quick trip over the state line to Indiana twice a year for fireworks.

Firecracker in Hammond, big fun.

Firecracker in Chicago, big fine. $200+.

Not that I care one way or another about firecrackers either... although, I actually enjoy them on occasion in small, festive doses. Just so long as they are not exploded inside my: mailbox, front porch Halloween pumpkin, or cat, I am, as well, once again...Kool and the Gang.

Secondly: There has to be a space. The artisan must also seek out his venue. Under a bridge. Across an abandoned warehouse alley. On a billboard. Not on Geno and Mona's fence in Forest Glen; all very good options requiring at least some forethought and planning, I would imagine.

Thirdly: There has to be a degree of covertness. Now think; how much grafitti have you seen in your own lifetime? And now recall... how many times have you actually seen an act of grafitto in progress? My guess to your answers would be, in order... a lot... and none.

Lastly: There has to be the inner vision. The idea. The final twisted images of color, dimension, and phonetic spelling with its blend of loopy and angled penmanship, at the same time balloonish and severe, threatening and poignant, painted across anything I don't personally own or pay property taxes on. As long as it's all that....I am, like I said, Kool and the Gang. (Okay with it.) taken by me, under a Forest Preserve viaduct, a little too close to my house for either comfort or appreciation.....

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