Urban Art (Street Art)
Street Art (Urban Art)
Street art—urban art—is an art form that developed in the streets, in the neighborhoods. It is usually created clandestinely, often illegally, and is not sanctioned by the entities on whose buildings, streets, walls, fences, or other objects it appears.
Street art can include graffiti, but it is not the territorial type of graffiti which is spray painted by gangs as an act of vandalism, as a way of marking their turf.
There are a number of types of art which fall into the street art category, among them guerrilla art, stencil graffiti, traditional graffiti, wheatpasting, skatepark graffiti, and refrigerator graffiti.
Have you ever done an installiation of guerrilla art which you created?
Guerrilla artists are very sneaky people. Usually at night, when it is likely there won’t be any witnesses, they deposit in a public place a series of objects, a piece of sculpture, a colorfully-decorated old car or whatever object with which they’ve done something creative. Sometimes guerrilla art is used to make a political statement, but most of the time it’s created just for fun.
When I was in college, majoring in Fine Arts, I spray painted an old bicycle copper and aluminum. I took a pair of jeans and a denim shirt, stuffed them with newspaper, wired them together, and then wired them onto the bicycle. I drove onto the campus in the middle of the night and placed my creation on one of the paths leading to the building in which the painting and sculpture classes were taught.
Artists who create stencil graffiti usually want to repeat a word, a phrase, a message in several locations. Using cardboard, they create a stencil of what they want to say and then, at a time when there will be as few witnesses as possible, they use spray paint to create their sign. Freeway (highway) overpasses are popular locations for stencil graffiti.
Have you ever clandestinely drawn or spray painted a piece of non-gang related graffiti art?
Traditional graffiti—as opposed to gang or turf graffiti—began as art that is primarily letter-based. Letters were drawn or spray painted clandestinely on buildings, benches, lampposts, walls, streets, sidewalks (pavement), subway (local train) cars in the United States, and a number of other objects. These letters, words, phrases, and paragraphs were frequently quite artistic and often very elaborate.
Many graffiti artists decided that letter-based graphics weren’t enough, so they expanded their portfolio to include drawings, some of which were just scribbles, but many of which were quite elaborate. Marking pens, available in a wide variety of colors, are a preferred graffiti creation tool. Spray paint is also a popular medium, but it takes a more skilled graffiti artist to execute a drawing by spraying color onto a surface.
Similar to wallpaper paste, wheatpaste is made by mixing vegetable starch (wheat flour or rice flour, for example) and water. The resultant glue-like mixture is used for adhering posters and other papers to outdoor surfaces.
The pasting of paper signs, slogans, drawings, and posters onto these outdoor surfaces is known as wheatpasting.
Skatepark graffiti is an art form that developed in public skateboard parks around the world. Young people, primarily in their teens, congregate in the parks, which are built by cities in lower-income neighborhoods—these neighborhoods are chosen because the land is usually less costly. The young people rant, discuss, complain, talk, laugh, and express themselves by drawing and spray painting on the slanted and curved concrete surfaces and walls within the skatepark. They also create unofficial skateparks in concrete drainage ditches or other locations which have curved surfaces amenable to the use of a skateboard.
Hurricane Katrina, one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, occurred in the summer of 2005. More than 1800 people died as a result of the hurricane and the flooding which followed. Approximately 80% of the city of New Orleans, Louisiana and the neighboring parishes (counties) were flooded.
Due to the flooding and lack of electrical power, the contents of countless refrigerators become toxic. Bacterial growth created serious health hazards.
Many people decorated the exteriors of their refrigerators with graffiti and other embellishments as the appliances awaited eventual trash pickup. The owners of the refrigerator seen on the right considered shipping their refrigerator to the then-president of the United States instead of having their garbage disposal company haul it away.
Should legal graffiti walls in skateparks be the norm rather than the exception?
Laws regarding clandestine street art and graffiti differ throughout the world. A few cities have designated certain walls with their skateparks as being legal graffiti walls.
In California, it is illegal for anyone to sell or give a can of spray paint to another person without first asking to see photo identifcation which indicates that the person is at leat 18 years old. There is an exception in the law—a parent or legal guardian of someone under the age of 18 can sell or give a can of spray paint to that person.
Also in California, all stores selling spray paint must post signs with letters at least 3/8-inch high stating that anyone who defaces property with spray paint is guilty of vandalism, and that this act is punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both.
I worked in an arts and craft store in California for a number of years. The spray paint was locked inside a wire mesh cage. The sign on the front of the wire cage was in bold black letters much higher than 3/8-inch.