Friday, October 3, 2008

Graffiti in the Landscape

As I was riding my bike home from work over the summer, I ran into a group of graffiti artists painting their work up on the side of a building at Fillmore and Holt in Pomona. I was interested in their work and their medium so I began talking to them. The first person I spoke with was working on this piece. I like his composition, his color combination and the contrasting highlights he uses to make his name pop out.

If you are graffiti illiterate it says his name "Redoe." He spoke a little about the difference between his art and kids just messing around causing trouble, he said (I'm paraphrasing) "We get a bad reputation because of some people who write on windows and sidewalks."
I think the big difference here is the difference between graffiti and graffiti art. Graffiti art got its start in the 70's of New York on subway trains. The trains traveled all city and were a mobile form of communication. It was a precursor to buses that now have advertisements covering the entire vehicle, including windows. When it moved to the west coast, there were no subways but there were a lot of roads and parking lots instead of the art becoming mobile the art was mostly stationary and the people moved. Not to say that train graffiti doesn't happen in the west, It is still practiced even by this group of artists. In fact "Worm" told me RustOleums are the best for metal surfaces. This is "Worm" he uses bright and vivid colors with a very traditional style of lettering.

Interestingly enough the style of Graffiti exists on the same building as a sign for the business that the building conducts. This sign had been there for some time before the writers decided to do this wall.

This leads me to my question. Does Graffiti art have a place in the landscape? Is there a way to incorporated their style, their method, how they affect the landscape into what we do? There are those who battle Graffiti often by planting vines up walls etc... but can we utilize them? Like the Glass business that utilized their style for a sign for their business, and how advertising companies now run buses with advertisements along the entire stretch of bus. Can this be done with landscape architecture as well?

I know Landscape Architects don't often put physicalwords into their landscapes but if they did, what words would they choose? would it be more cryptic like "Redoe's" style or easy to read like "Worm's" Even just the style. It does not have to be a word or phrase, the style of graffiti is trying to express a three dimensional form on a flat surface. Landscape Architects have access to a medium that allows three dimensional forms. The shapes that they use may be too radical for some, but it doesn't mean it cannot be done in the landscape effectively.

Whether or not we incorporate what they are trying to do with what we are trying to do we can at least learn from them. Graffiti art will always be a part of the landscape because there are a lot of dedicated artists. To learn more about the start of modern day Graffiti art here's a documentary called "Style Wars" made in 1982. Here's a link to a world famous graffiti artist who also incidentally does land art installations Banksy.
To see the rest of the graffiti art go to Holt and Fillmore in Pomona. Or see this.
There are some closeups on my flickr account at Flickr

1 comment:

Anduhrew said...

This Comment from a friend on Facebook
"Hey, I did my senior project on graffiti and it's effects on the community, it's an interesting subject. It is sad that their really are artist within this area, and others (generally young kids with nothing better to do) screw up their reputation. In that respect, no matter the purpose behind it, in most areas, it is frowned upon. There really are pieces that are quite beautiful, and in many ways, much harder to do than average pieces. I could go on, I wrote several pages on it, but I'll stop there. If you're interested, you can ask Jerry to see my paper if you want. Hope all is well!! Hope you are enjoying your last year!! Whoop!!"
-Kelley L.