Monday, 23 February 2015

Mainstream Street Art?

Is Street Art caught between two worlds?  Since when did street art become the next best thing, showcased on primetime TV?  How do we showcase art that is viewed as subversive by many, illegal to some?  Does this appreciation somehow strip away some of its appeal?


Watching a show like this reminds me of my taste in music when I was a kid.  I remember hearing a song and thinking it was great, until someone else said that they liked it or I heard it play on the radio... several times.  It didn't feel like my song any more because everyone else liked it just as much.  I'm guessing that, somewhere, some serious street artists are cringing when they see clips from Street Art Throwdown.  

But maybe the artists are thrilled to have a new venue to share their work?  What if I'm mistaken, and my perceived cool factor for street artists is somehow mistaken because I lack the familiarity that so many other people have.  My knowledge of street artists and their work may never lend itself to understanding their goals and expressions.  I have never lived in an urban centre, and my Northern lifestyle may have stunted my ability to connect with some really talented artists.  

The thing is, I have students who study art.  I'm writing this for them, because I want them to see how someone can approach unfamiliar art forms and begin to shape an opinion, supported by prior knowledge.  I also want to assure them that it's ok to consider contrary opinions without losing any substance to your own argument.  In fact, providing several perspectives adds significantly more strength to one's ideas.

Captivating work, found on a train in Thunder Bay.  Fall 2014.

Is there a way to appreciate the culture of street art if you are unfamiliar with the people who created it?  ...and the places it is made?  What about train graffiti, which is made to travel?  Does impermanence help us value graffiti?  

So many questions, so few answers.  Hopefully we will begin to make connections with artists whose experience can enlighten us.  







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