The current mural at the “Bowery Wall” (a.k.a., the “Deitch Wall”) in downtown New York City is an epic, colorful composition of 3D block letters and abstract 2D graphical shapes.
The massive painting is by the artist Lakwena and its message “Lift you higher” could be describing the artwork itself. It’s a bright, aesthetically cheery artwork that has all the right pleasure-centering amounts of visual flavor crystals added to it.
There is street art. There are cliches. And there are street-art cliches (SAC). That said, we think “trope” is the better suited word here rather than the word “cliche.” So, “street-art trope.” (SAT, of course). There are street art tropes! There is, dare we use the term, “tropey” street art. There we said it.
“What are some of these street-art tropes?” you ask, savvy reader? That’s a fair question, if ever there was. There are a few broad categories and types. But the most obvious type, if most flagrant, is the use of cheery pop-cultural icons, often cartoon characters, juxtaposed with some very un-cheery and serious imagery, like a gun.
There’s practically a formula matrix you can follow to create this kind of street art. For example … Continue reading
Like a vintage wine, some street art ages remarkably well. Others not so well.
But it’s showing its age. It’s worn, fading, and a little tattered from the elements. Although the physical integrity of artwork has degraded, it’s actually made the poster more interesting in a way that’s similar to the way patination on a bronze statue gives it more character or the way a pair of Japanese RPM selvedge denim jeans develop a distinct shape, fade and crease when worn everyday and left unwashed for a year.
Part of street art’s magic is that it’s ephemeral. It comes and goes. It disappears. And part of that ephemerality is seeing it age, bearing witness to its slow destruction.
As Fairey’s Venice Beach poster continues to come apart and fade, it’s takes on a new aesthetic. It becomes more beautiful as it degrades and loses the perfection of it’s original state. The artwork is humbled by the elements and by time. Yet it remains a remarkable image and retains the unconventional nature inherent in art that’s “in the streets.”
Looking at it this way is like the Japanese concept of wabi sabi. And yet the core image persists on the landscape, provoking thought , remaining a subject of appreciation.
Street art often provides many unanswered questions, not only about the artwork itself, but also who created it. There’s seldom clear authorship for most street art and usually no contextual information about the artwork or artist in the way there is for in a museum of gallery. That can make it difficult to attribute the artist or read the artwork, though that’s also part of the allure of street art. Continue reading
An electric utility box along Sunset Blvd. in Silver Lake, in Los Angeles, has been painted as an old-school public pay telephone. See pic below.
From a distance you might be fooled into thinking you were spying a real pay phone, albeit a questionably larger-than-life-size one. But, of course, it’s fake, a phony — literally a “phony” in the original sense of the word.
The painting is cartoon-like, but accurate in its rendering of the design and details of the phone. The real public pay phones were once common in cities around the United States, but have all but completely disappeared from American life.
The artwork is a cute and clever reminder of how quickly technology has changed and how physically pervasive and visible it can be in our lives.
As by-product of the explosive growth and adoption of cellphones, and later smartphones, over the past two decades is the erasure of pay phones from the urban landscape.
… More details to come, but here’s a pic from Maya of the work in progress.