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anon

Graffiti "artists" also vandalize public and private property at a huge cost to taxpayers and property owners.

IMHO, this is a disgraceful form of art.

ws

Any appreciation I can have for graffiti expression is highly conditional. I suppose I don't see anything very admirable in the two top photos above. What comes to mind when I look at them is the smell of urine and feces, mouldy blankets, noxious paint fumes, trash, used condoms, discarded needles and other drug stuff lying around.

The 'black on tan background' illustration in the bottom photo is cartoon based. It's more a testimony to relatively recent technological improvements made to aerosal paint spray equipment than it is to art made with serious intentions.

Graffiti technique used on media an artist buys for their self or is legitimately offered is defensible. Graffiti technique used on someones property that's been co-opted without their permission is disgraceful and illegal. Evoking romantic notions of pirates to enhance the reputation of people that spray paint wherever they choose is just stupid.

People that find something appealing in this destructive use of spray paint could do society and taxpayers a big favor by condemning unauthorized painting and inviting the 'pirates' they seem to admire, over to their own property to paint with permission from the owner.

Josiah

Completely condemning a entire form of art based on one wing of that art's practice (idiot tags by idiots on inappropriate places) seems reactive and does not really help anything. An analogy would be condemning architecture as a whole based on the plethora of bad architecture that is produced, (which may I also remind you, subsequently offends an entire community, and lasts a lot longer). Graffiti has found a very valuable niche in many places, and in many countries, decorating unused overpasses, sprucing up (with the owners permission) ugly ally walls, and serving as valuable public art. Yes it has it's destructive side, and that should be stopped, but what better way to stop it than by giving these young artists (often underprivileged) a constructive and legal avenue in which to expressive themselves, to the betterment of the whole community. It's time we wised up and made legal areas for graffiti on unused public walls, overpasses and the like. I think you will find that is the best way to combat the ugly graffiti that upsets all of us.

Brian Libby

I agree, Josiah. I think it's silly and prudish and overly conservative to 100% condemn graffiti. Obviously if somebody tagged my home, car or other property I'd be upset. But graffiti is often confined to destitute buildings, and it's sometimes a very genuine and personal form of artistic expression. Without graffiti to give them a start, we wouldn't have some of the world's most treasured artists. And to dismiss the world of Forster's photographs or deny their visual power would be a gargantuan mistake.

Great job, Bruce!

ws

"Completely condemning a entire form of art based on one wing of that art's practice (idiot tags by idiots on inappropriate places) seems reactive and does not really help anything." Josiah

Graffiti has not been condemned completely. Graffiti applied without permission, wherever and whenever someone one wants to put it there, often is condemned, and rightfully so.

"It's time we wised up and made legal areas for graffiti on unused public walls, overpasses and the like. I think you will find that is the best way to combat the ugly graffiti that upsets all of us." Josiah

Josiah, do you have something to support that contention? Do you really think that providing legal areas for graffiti would end or at least substantially reduce the assault by graffiti painters on every visible wall, overpass and so forth?

Perhaps graffiti enthusiasts and those that support them and their activities could rally together and raise money to buy a building upon which to paint. They might also consider doing what others have done: apply for public money to fund purchase of a place for what they want to do. An art related example, though it's not graffiti, is the zoo bomb bike station sculpture up on West Burnside...designed and built with money from RAAC.

"And to dismiss the world of Forster's photographs or deny their visual power..." B libby

Forster's photographs are probably excellent. Of course, those little uncredited photos above, even if they are Forster's, could never convey the beauty of an actual photograph seen first hand. Forster has the experience, the sensibility, and the money to make beautiful photographs. I've seen some of them, though not these particular ones. If they can bring the public to see, using Josiah's words “... idiot tags by idiots on inappropriate places...” to be beautiful work it can support, that will have been quite an accomplishment.

tom

By your definition of a grafitti artist, wouldn't that also qualify the Lovejoy Columns as acts of vandalism?

anon

there was a time when i might have been pursuaded to take the time to understand the hip beauty of graffiti, futura, stash, recon, et al. then last year i saved up all of my money to buy a modest house and have since added up all of my year-to-date expenses for supplies required to repaint my continually tagged-up fence.

the last time, the artist or friends of the artist came to photograph the work for their blog. he had a very nice dslr camera and i wanted to go crazy sean penn on him, but called the cops instead. call me a PRUDE, whatevs.

btw, segregating an area for the graffiti artists to spray at will runs counter to their thrill seeking ways. don't you know that they get big ups when their work can be seen from freeways or highly trafficked streets? also, when their work is inadvertently shown on tv shows, movies, photo exhibitions, and... blogs? or when they have to trespass on private property and climb dangerous heights to get to the sweet spot? yeah, i used to date a skater punk and you can't help but pick up on stuff along the way.

ws

"By your definition of a grafitti artist, wouldn't that also qualify the Lovejoy Columns as acts of vandalism?" tom

Did I define 'grafitti artist' using the word 'vandalism' to descibe people that illegally paint ? I don't think I did.

The word 'vandalism' might not be a fair description of painting for expression that's done illegally. Even if the work is beautiful in a general sense, such as that on the Lovejoy columns, it may very well meet with a certain condemnation...rightfully so...if it's been done without the owner's or the public's permission.

I'd say graffiti can be used to vandalize, but it's not inherently vandalism. Graffiti isn't always done illegally either. It's when it's done illegally that that graffiti becomes a problem. That represents taking something from someone or something without the right to take it.

ws

I haven't had a chance yet to go in, but yesterday, Labor Day, I was able to walk by the Center for Architecture and look through the window at Bruce Forster's pictures of graffiti. That's not good enough to gain a good sense of what I saw, but it was enough to confirm that Forster can do impressive things, for example, one picture stood out because of its sheer size. It seemed to be about 4' by 6' ....big!; a wide shot of, I believe, three successive rooms.

When I walked on, away from CfA, there was plenty more graffiti to be seen outdoors, in fact, right nearby. Right across the street is Phillips Electronics; nicely maintained building...oh but wait...a graffiti tagger has paint scrawled their little canvas awning. Adjoining Phillips is a quarter-block parking lot; two big walls at right angles to each other. graffiti taggers have taken over both of these walls. This is, mind you, right in the heart of Portland's supposedly 'upscale' Pearl District.

There's plenty more of this 'art' in the area...on newsboxes, sidewalks, up high over roofs, ...in many places where it's very hard to avoid seeing it.

I want to leave off mentioning a legitimate example of street art that I saw walking about in the Pearl. That would be the news boxes that environmental organization Orlo has commissioned artists to paint for the magazine 'Bear Deluxe'. The style of the one I saw looks as though the artist drew from graffiti as part of his inspiration. Might be a good idea to see these boxes soon, before someone else decides to paint over them.

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