In most areas of my life, I’m really not a decisive decision-maker. My family says I’m wishy-washy, and I’m OK with that After all, if I offer my opinion that Red Sombrero is where we should eat tonight and then let them convince me that we should chow down at Olive Tree instead, I come home just as well-fed and still have no dishes to do.
Once in a while, though, I find that my opinion on a subject seems worthwhile enough to make a stand and state my position. Out loud, and in front of everybody. Unless, of course, you feel that I should just kind of keep my opinions to myself, and…NO! This one I want to say.
The other day I read a post that disturbed me. Actually, it isn’t the post but the subject that causes me distress. Because I follow Mae East here on WordPress, i got a notice directing me to her new post Graffiti: Art or Disrespectful? and I popped on over to take a look.
In my opinion, and in those of people I respect, anyone who destroys or defaces the property of someone else is a criminal. Period. Most people work hard to provide themselves and their communities with pleasant surroundings. To ruin this by imposing a permanent (and usually very unsightly) “work of art” is a disgrace. I’m not even counting the monetary impact here, just the aesthetic.
I should append a little history note here. When I was in college–back in the sixties, when graffiti was something we thought would forever be confined to New York subways–I took a basic art class. At the first meeting we discussed the relative merits of traditional and contemporary art and the professor asked us for the definition of “modern art.” We all gave our answers which were, in general, uncomplimentary. He responded by telling us that modern art was simply “an old idea expressed in a new way” and suggesting that we leave ourselves open to it if we wanted to pass the class. Knowing myself to be an abominable artist, I petitioned to be excused from taking the class (a graduation requirement) once I heard that we were expected to produce some work of our own. The teacher laughingly told me that anyone who could draw a circle could produce some form of art. I drew my best circle for him; I was immediately excused from the art class.
All this is just to explain that my assessment of graffiti as junk may not be that of an expert on the subject of art. However, as my strong opinion, it stands.
I do have to admit that some of the works, if displayed on canvas or some other less permanent medium, would be quite lovely. Not much graffiti falls into that category, though, and far too much of the damage goes beyond any definition of art, resembling more the territorial markings of a particulary obnoxious dog.
It’s rumored that some countries extract a high price for vandalism. I’m not ready to go so far as to cut off hands, but I might be agreeable to putting eight or nine of the illicit artist’s fingers in casts for a couple of months. (In some cases it wouldn’t make much difference to the artistic output anyway, but it might be worth a try.)
Some people might consider this blog to be a form of graffiti. After all, it isn’t written to anyone’s order and it is certainly out there for the world to see. But it doesn’t hit you in the eye while you’re driving down the street, and if you don’t like it, you can always Delete.
I’ll see you again, after the commercial.