Art can do many things. It can provoke, teach, offend, inform, comfort, inspire, scare, stimulate and bond us.
Street art, can possibly do even more things. Its public nature — in “the streets” — gives it more reach and exposure to a much larger, broader audience than most of the art confined to the indoors of a museum or gallery. That said, most of the audience exposed to street art do not care for street art.
That public may not “get it” nor like it nor think of it as “art,” but as they drive by or walk by street art, they cannot unsee it (at least not without some kind of head-trauma induced amnesia or decades of expensive professional psychological counseling).
In this way, street art is like a billboard, or what people in the ad agency business called “OOH” for “out of home” advertising.
So any explicit message contained in the street artwork has as much power or influence as a billboard, which itself may be inconsequential or great depending on the content, images and message. In any case, while that influence can be hard to precisely measure, nobody is in doubt, however, about its visibility and potential.
Occasionally street art, or art in general, imparts some gem of wisdom and understanding in the viewer. Often, depending on the media, it’s nuanced, subject to interpretation and open to speculation. But sometimes it’s clearly stated, expressed using the power and clarity of the written word, relying more on text than image.
“No money, No honey” (our comma) is the message in the stencil street art pictured here on a stretch of pavement in the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District. The stenciled art provides a pithy, hyper-concise breakdown of the relationship between purchase power and sex (preferably of the hot kind).
The statement is a generally understood observation, and an unethical and shameful popular notion, that has existed since the beginning of time. To put it another way, it’s saying there’s a relationship between money and love, or the facsimile of love.
Is there a real-world example that might illustrate this relationship? Why, yes, there is, savvy reader! Yes, there is!
Take the case of Melania and Donald Trump. Melania here is the “honey” in the equation. The Donald has the “money.” If Donald does not have the money, it’s quite likely he wouldn’t have the “honey” (that’s Melania — c’mon folks follow along!). Because, really … Melania would give up the honey for this without the money?
Under any circumstances, the image of Melania giving up the honey for Donald Money is something we can’t unsee. It’s like street art. Or a billboard. Or street art ON a billboard. A really frightening billboard.