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Graffiti Artist: “People Look Down On Me

Man spray-painting graffiti in a graffit permission zone.

Graff writer or Graffiti Artist Render from Austin, Texas, works on a project in a Oklahoma City alleyway east of Automobile Alley.

Graffiti, Government and Public Art

The City of Norman Parks and Recreation Department and the Norman Public Arts Board was recently awarded an Oklahoma Recreation and Park Society’s Award of Excellence for a project that used graffiti-style street art to decorate a skate park. CRE8 n SK8 (Create and Skate) took place last fall at Blake Baldwin Skate Park. Both unskilled youth and accomplished artists participated in the project.

My Graffiti Photography

I began photographing local graffiti in the spirit of Wordless Wednesday, a popular blog activity that involved posting a single photo and caption. It’s was a way many bloggers catch a mid-week break.

I became interested in graffiti during a few weeks last summer when I took my kids on a little adventure (see Graffiti Jungle) south of Outdoor World in Bricktown, Oklahoma City. I discovered a large amount of tagging and graffiti on the new I-40. In 2012, much of my professional work is at the intersection of art and government, and so I was immediately interested in how much graffiti removal costs cities, but also if there was a correlation between graffiti permission zones and cultural tourism. Also, how much of street art and graffiti correlates to arts education; the lack of it, or its prevalence in the lives of graff writers.

Graff writer holds up his street art sticker.

Render’s Sticker | These are applied to utility boxes and other public property with wheat paste.

Austin Graffiti Artist

The permission zone I visited last night is located in an alley east of Automobile Alley in Oklahoma City. For the first time, I met a graff writer in action. He goes by Render and he’s from Austin; a very nice Gen Y graffitist with soft green eyes and a cute, supportive girlfriend. He gave me a mini-lesson in the graffiti technique known as layering. He also brought me up to speed on wheat pasting.

I asked him if he’d ever had any arts education in school and he said no, and he was very enthusiastic about graffiti permission zones. I found this very encouraging and I wonder how many cities have held public forums with graff writers.

Before I left, he gave me one of his stickers, which I was so glad to take with me as a memento of our brief time together. And, he also told me something that I think deserves some careful thought: “People look down on me for what I do,” he said.

We all want recognition for the things we do well.

Picture of graffiti on an iPhone.

Render shows me some of the graffiti projects he’s shot with his iPhone.

Street Artist Jetsonorama

Two days ago, an article appeared in High Country News about an Arizona-based doctor who began moonlighting as a street artist. He uses wheat paste to attach his artwork to ruined buildings, water tanks, etc., but more importantly, to bring about “healing in Navajoland.” Click here to read this inspiring story by Sarah Gilman about the Generation X graffiti street artist Jetsonorama.


Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. jenx67

     Thanks, Andi. I’d love to see some from your many travels.

  2. jenx67

     Thank you, Rose! Wasn’t that story about the doctor inspiring. I love his work.

  3. Rose Byrd

    I look UP to that young artists from Austin!  I look UP to that doctor working to bring healing to Navajoland through his graffiti work!  I look UP to you, dear Jen, for your wonderful values system in supporting the legitimate work of street artists, often with very positive and much-needed messages in today’s world!  Bless you!

  4. Andi Perullo

    Such an awesome post! I totally believe in the power of graffiti. 

  5. jenx67

    Me, too. My mom has talked about wheat pasting before, but it was in the context of wallpaper. He was very nice!

  6. Yogi

    Another great post. I love the concept of a permission zone. Render seems like a nice guy. I bet there other men and women like him. I enjoyed reading your link about wheat pasting. I learned something new.

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