Welcome to your new reality. With this genius book, you too can spend your days defacing (or prettying-up, in my opinion) bland urban landscapes… without risk! The next brilliant step would be to the fabricate the pages from dry-erase board pulp to make for endless hours of fun… and to give you the fantasy that your work’s been whitewashed by the police, the obvious authority on culture.
Gone are the days of gritty graffiti artists lingering under dark overpasses on the outskirts of urban abandon. Over the past decade a new appreciation and acceptance of street art has swept throughout Europe and over to America; people are now beginning to see the value of wheat-paste-up people and non-commissioned collages as bleak, barren, Mechanical-Electrical-Plumbing ridden walls become welcoming canvases. Mere tagging has gone wayward.
Today, to be a man on the street with a can, bucket or roller, you need to be more original and talented than the wanna-be gangsters of the 90’s. Today’s art is not about marking territory or sending cryptic, threatening messages to the rival team. Today’s artists aim to brighten the city while showcasing their abilities outside a stuffy gallery (although, white- walled galleries are embracing street arts shows, even on the UES! Oh how times are a changin’!).
One of the most poetic examples of this phenomena I witnessed in Prague:
On the historic steps leading to Letna Park in Prague 7, graffiti of yore adorns the dirt caked masonry. Further up the hill, in the residential area, comparably new buildings, 30-40 years old, in the typical communist style, mix in with the centuries old streetscape in the most incongruous of fashions.
Leaving these eyesores be is practical: they house people, grocery stores, et., but the creative people of Prague recognize that usefulness ends at functionality (tourism being the rung above functionality, I ponder, do tourists ever take pictures of these buildings? I shopped at the one store 3-5 times a week and I don’t think I ever snapped a single photograph – highly unusual for me!).
Thank heavens for the artists in the community, presumably students of the many surrounding art schools, who took it upon themselves to thoughtfully cover the white ceramic tiled walls of these socialist blights. (Now that I think about it, I do have photographs of these buildings because I have photographs of these paste-ups! Hurrah!).
If you see a similar blank canvas in your neighborhood, whip out your phone, snap that pic and bring it to the local drugstore to be posterized, then get cracking you little artist, you!