Graffiti Wednesday: Literary Tattoos

It’s life’s illusions I recall.
I really don’t know life at all.
–From Mitchell and Both Sides Now

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway | Shields Boulevard | Oklahoma City | The trains take a beating

There’s a popular blog meme that dominates the blogosphere every Wednesday. It’s called Wordless Wednesday and it consists of posts that feature just one image. Bloggers far and wide use it as a way to take a mid-week break from content creation and content marketing. It keeps search engines crawling these sites and probably helps with a variety of other analytics, too.

Although I enjoy it on many of the blogs I visit, I’ve never really gotten into Wordless Wednesday. However, since I’ve started documenting graffiti across Oklahoma and doing research about it and street art as part of my work in government and the arts, I thought my own version might be in order, Graffiti Wednesday.

Graffiti and Economic Opportunities
Graffiti has been around for centuries and it’s here to stay, right along with its second cousin, street art. Although the full wave of both have not yet hit Oklahoma, I can see it cresting from London and Paris, New York and L.A. It will no doubt wreak havoc on communities. Cleaning up graffiti is very expensive. It hits the pocketbooks of taxpayers and private businesses equally as hard.

But, for the most creative and innovative communities, graffiti and street art represent economic opportunities like nothing any of us imagined possible with something that is illegal and even criminal. Acceptance of this notion can only come with a greater understanding of graffiti, graffiti artists and particularly street art. The latter is a nondestructive, impermanent form of graffiti that includes things like video projection, street installation and yarn bombing. I find it delightful and brilliant; oxygen for the creative economy.

Graffiti, Street Art E-Book
I have many irons in the fire and so many things demanding my attention with work, but I’m hoping by fall I will have completed an eBook about graffiti and street art. I am learning a lot through this project. I’m learning that snap judgements can last for decades. I’m learning that I may have some of the answers, but I may not have the most important ones because I’m narrow minded and don’t ask the right questions.

I’m learning to be open-minded, less dismissive and more inventive. And, I’m starting to believe (not that I didn’t before) what the Chinese have always known. In crisis there is opportunity.

As I’ve explained in previous posts, there is a big difference between gang taggers and freelance graffitists, even if there is little or no legal distinction between their activities. While I don’t condone vandalism, I believe graffiti and street art are legitimate art forms. They represent art that is not collectible; art that cannot be contained on gallery walls; art that is free to view and almost impossible to buy.

Interesting Links:
Blame Phone Apps for Graffiti’s Reemergence, January 2012
(From Governing the States and Localities)
Street Art Utopia


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  1. jenx67 says

    I think the legal definition is something like “art by permission.” If it’s not permission it’s all graffiti, whether bubble art, yarn bomb or whatever. So itneresting!!

  2. jenx67 says

    Yes, I do remember that bridge very well. I wish I’d bought some earrings, too. There is another graffiti bridge in OKC. I will photography it just for you! I keep passing it, but never have time to stop. It’s largely unknown, but it’s covered in graffiti. Not as cool as THE graffiti bridge though.

  3. jenx67 says

    Years ago, I helped publicize an art exhibit that came to town on a train. It was actually called Art Train. You’ve added to my inspiration, Rose!

  4. jenx67 says

    This will have a lot of photos, but also policies I’ve collected and best practices for dealing with it. I hope I can get it done.

  5. says

    Jen, everytime I am held up at a railroad crossing (in our town, no matter where you live, it happens at least one time every two days on the average), I enjoy the graffiti on box cars.  This gives the advantage not only of free, public art but traveling art that brings insights from far away!  Love your idea for Graffiti Wednesday!

  6. says

    I think that would make a fascinating book.  I took photos of a couple of buildings with street art on them, and I look for it all the time in San Francisco, I am enamored by the actual art and graffiti but I also am curious about its meanings and history as well.

  7. Rob says

    That painting is very impressive. I wish I could find the artist. I would put him in front of a canvas. And I can’t believe that Burlington Northern is getting their trains spruced up for free.

  8. TerritoryMom says

    I love graffiti art.  I guess murals painted on the side of buildings would be considered “legal” graffiti.  I still regret not buying earrings made from the Graffiti Bridge in OKC.  Remember the attention when it came down.

  9. TerritoryMom says

    I love graffiti art.  I guess murals painted on the side of buildings would be considered “legal” graffiti.  I still regret not buying earrings made from the Graffiti Bridge in OKC.  Remember the attention when it came down.

  10. says

    I’m so impressed. When you get interested in something you go all in. 

    I like Wordless Wednesday and I love tumblr. It’s Wordless Wednesday all the time there. You don’t get to know individuals like you do on a regular blog platform. You just skim through lots and lots of photos.

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