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.
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.
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.