For The Love Of Street Art
Art has been a part of being human since the dawn of our species. The drive to leave our mark (often literally) on the world around us, has endured through all stages of human evolution, as has our love of art.
This love however, is not extended to all forms of art. For every piece sitting in a museum, or above a collector’s mantle, there is an equally planned out and purposefully executed piece being scrubbed off a wall, shunned as petty vandalism.
(We really can’t talk street art and not show you a little Banksy.)
So why does our society embrace one artist and shun another? Maybe we relate street art to closely with graffiti, painting every person who marks our cityscapes with the same judgemental brush. But what is the difference anyway, and why does it matter?
Groups like Graffiti Action Hero, who organize graffiti removal parties, allowing citizens to “take back” their neighbourhoods, believe that the difference between street art and simple graffiti tagging lies in the intent of the artist. Where tagging is a way to simply claim or mark an area, street art is a vibrant and artistic, (albeit unsanctioned) addition to the community. Often clever and thought provoking, street art is meant to challenge your thinking, as well as be enjoyed.
And no one can act like we haven’t seen outdoor paintings that they’ve liked. Murals (which we could easily refer to as commissioned/sanctioned street art) receive a lot of positive attention around the world. The Canadian town of Chemainus, a short drive from where we live, has built it’s reputation as being the City of Murals (just look at the their URL).
Likewise, insanely talented artists like Julian Beever wow crowds with their larger then life, frighteningly realist illusion art.
(See that “ledge” he’s sitting on? Look closer… that’s the sidewalk.)
To be fair, street art does often receive the praise that it deserves, in the right circles. The internet is bursting with opinions on who has created, and where you can find, the best street art. There are well researched lists that take us on a journey around the world, from North and South America, to Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Antarctica is sorely lacking in representation, but perhaps when they have more buildings (or a resident population) they’ll be able to start catching up.
(Actually… not what we had in mind.)
In the meantime, art will continue to pop up in our museums, in our homes, on our streets, and yes, on our bodies. And just like graffiti, there are good and bad tattoos. And just like traditional art, every piece is not meant to please every person.
So the next time you see street art or someone with a tattoo, imagine how the art might strike you differently it if were framed on a wall. (And if you’re planning a tattoo, find an artist with a love of their craft, someone with the drive to create you your own personal masterpiece.)
Don’t forget, our buildings, streets, sketchbooks, binders, and bodies are all just canvasses, waiting for an artists’s touch.