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“What a tremendously delicious, subversive and awesome responsibility.”

recently, artist tip-toe sent me this email he got from another street artists in town-shell. its a piece about a spot holding three of chi’s artists and an interpatation of the work, its a interesting read. so please do read. i will be posting my thoughts and whatnot on this soon. and i think there will be a lot of talk about public space on here this summer. so feel free to chime in with thoughts, ideas, anything really once it all gets going.

thanks for reading.

-pod

“Sometimes art on the street just lands where it lands.  Sometimes a location is carefully staked out and finally claimed as “perfect”.  Sometimes work is an improvisational and chance meeting with another artist, or object, advertisement or situation. And sometimes the intent of one artist appears to engage with a very intentional objective… a planned riff on another’s theme.

Of course, one can never be certain if these conversations across pieces/artists are agreements or arguments.  After all, in this world of street art where tag names are alter egos for the real person you never know for sure.  The street art “gallery” of the city is a virtual world made real…although there are plenty who would sooner Flickr the experience (complete with others’ adjectives and often profane compliments and complaints) than walk the street.  But if you do prefer the feel of pavement under your feet and the rush of real movement and experience of the world…you are forced to do your own thinking.  And there is plenty of time for that if wandering the streets is your major activity.

Consider the proximity and content of this constellation of works.  The first piece that appeared on the wall was the piece by Sonny at the far right.  It was joined, by design, by Tiptoe at the far left… and then Don’t Fret responded by squeezing between the two.  Now, I might point out that this particular location provides a lot of real estate for street artists… yet the choices were made and the result provided this viewer with an interesting afternoon of musing on the outcome.

Let me begin with my favorite… in style, content, complexity and execution….The Burden of the Beast (Tiptoe).  The wolf is stalking…hunting…sure to capture and to devour.  There is no mercy in the creature of the wolf… he is simply an animal.  And here we have Freud’s famous edict made manifest…“man is a wolf onto (wo)man” (my parenthetic addition, of course, I AM quoting Freud, who is incidentally quoting others before him).  But… that’s not all that’s going on in Tiptoe’s piece.  The man inside is pensive, even troubled by his animal instincts.  Of course, he won’t win against them.  At least not until he becomes more human, not until the currents of emotion (empathy, understanding, care) become more powerful than the animal impulse.  Good luck in a world that has done everything to dull the humanity of the heart.  Survival of the fittest requires conquering and owning (at least long enough to declare victory)… then the “booty” will be discarded like the spoils of war.  There’s no denying this…the push against this reality that includes the contemporary widespread malady of apathy and cynicism is a very lonely vocation.  Tiptoe’s beast carries that “push” against the norm as well… the lone wolf… lone dog… rain dog.  But… self- awareness needs to move to action or it is worthless.  He puts the option on the table in beautiful articulation none- the- less.

Don’t Fret’s piece presses against the volatility of the wolf-beast-man. Even by virtue of the artist’s name there seems to be a dismissive or seductive appeal to just “forget about it”.  I have heard this artist called by two names however… both Fret and Don’t Fret seem to be used interchangeably.   Ahhhh… contemporary irony serves to scramble the brain of this “viewer” yet one more time.  I prefer to use the artist’s name in this discussion in the way I have seen him post personally on-line… Don’t Fret.  So… by nestling up to Tiptoe’s beast is Don’t Fret offering a call to comfort??

Don’t Fret deals with “urges” in a blatant, sexual, and light-hearted way.  The “little rascals” of the piece exist as two separate beings… as if the phallus of the “character” was another friendly playful being… a pet… an amusement.  Interestingly, both Tiptoe and Don’t Fret seem to be separating parts of themselves… but the attitudes of that separation couldn’t be more different. Don’t Fret’s “rascal” seems harmless and witty in a wink/wink locker room kind of way.   The “animal” is nowhere in sight… male sexuality is not questioned…it is accepted as the norm… as entitled… as free from contemplation, responsibility or burden. This, of course, illustrates a typical youthful position of  “sex is awesome”… “we are young”… “now’s the time”.  Right?  YES!… and no.  Our world culture is awash with images of sex… devoid of connection, concern or accountability.  Both genders seem to be involved in a kind of “mutual using one another” no longer is there even the tired pretense of a phrase like “making love”… now people talk about hooking up… having sex… getting fucked.  Back to the animal… who shakes off the act after it’s over and moves on to whatever comes next… a nap… a meal… a piss.

The Sonny piece on the end does the summing.  After all is said and done the rain will come, the seed will grow… it will grow everything…all things planned and unplanned….except… the kind of tenderness that makes life worth living.  That’s up to each.  That has nothing to do with the animal.  That has everything to do with what separates us from the animal… be it beast or pet.

It could be claimed I expect a lot from street art.  Yes.  The honesty of these images is what draws me most.  No censoring… no fear of offending but no necessity to shock either.  But… one could further press…is it the intent of these artists… who often spend much of their time considering font, color, scale, graphic impact… to insight these thoughts in the common pedestrian like myself??

My power as a viewer takes over. I want (and will) give these artists the credit they deserve for stopping me dead in my tracks to think about the world I live in with them.  I look with careful eyes because they have earned that by giving me artworks week after week…month after month… year after year with no expectation from me other than to pay attention.

I wonder, on the other hand, if these artists understand the profundity of their “gallery”… pressed so close against life there is no space between.  Anyone can wander by this work.  Anyone can engage in a cultural or social conversation with the pieces.  What a tremendously delicious, subversive and awesome responsibility.”


-shell

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