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« (real) urban ku # 54 ~ contemplation | Main | FY I- my new Epson 18000000 »

(real) urban ku # 53 ~ artists and non-critical thought

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On Sunday past the kid and I were relaxing over a noon meal at one of Pittsburgh's diners of note, Ritters (the place where I took the eventual-wife after she picked me up in a bar), when I stumbled across this article in the Sunday paper. The headline was something along the lines of "The Biggest Graffiti in US History". How very sensational.

A little background: Pittsburgh is considerated a very large blank slate in the greater U.S. graffiti community. The newspaper article stated that this was so because, "...Enforcement was considered weak and the abundance of vacant warehouses and cramped hidden alleyways ... offered a canvas for many miscreants wielding a spray can."

The word 'miscreants' kind of set me off. See if you can follow.

To say that Pittsburgh has an 'abundance of empty warehouses and cramped hidden alleyways' is a little like saying there's some water in the ocean. The city has been in a state of decline for more than 3 decades. In addition to the massive population loss following in the wake of the demise of the steel industry, the city losses population nearly year - last year the only U.S. city that lost more population was New Orleans.

As a friend of mine opined, 'We don't need a natural disaster. We make our own.' The 'disasters' he refers to are those created on a long-standing and ongoing basis by an utter lack of creative imagination by both the elected leaders and the population at large. They face monumental hurdles in the task of trying to re-inventing a place that has been economically devastated and very little creative problem solving has been evident.

The results of the population loss and economic decline are everywhere visibly evident in the neighborhoods which surround a jewel of a downtown. Abandoned houses, businesses, warehouses, churches and schools are on prominent display. They constitute a dismal visual presence. Add to that the fact that Pittsburgh has more bridges than any city but Venice, Italy and you indeed have a 'blank slate' that, IMO, is the perfect and appropriate canvas for 'miscreants'.

Apparently, it has never occurred to anyone in Pittsburgh who matters that the city might benefit greatly from becoming known as the graffiti art capital of the U.S. Of course, that would require that someone be able to distinguish the true 'miscreant' from a serious graffiti artist.

Miscreants are the jerks with a spray paint can scrawlings racial slurs, vulgar comments, and all-around nothingness on occuppied homes and businesses, buses, cars and/or anything else that strikes their fancy. As unbelievable as it my seem to unimaginative 'authorities', there actually are responsible graffiti artist who select their canvas with some degree of common sense and discretion. Not all, but some.

Seems to me that the powers that be in Pittsburgh need to loosen up a bit and get away from hide-bound notions of the past.

Reader Comments (1)

from Eric Vondy on my Graffiti image posted on flickr...

"On the progressive side of things the small ex-mining town of Bisbee, Arizona has become an artist community. There they have actually seperated graiftti into street art and graffitti. So street art is encouraged but then bad street art is not. So the random guy spray paiting his name on the wall is still disliked but the random guy spray painting a message on the board is often OK'd."

April 20, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteraaron

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