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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Street Art: Illicit Inspiration

Posted by Rick | March 12th, 2007 | Filed under Design, Personal Reflection, Who We Are

20070302_blog_graffiti_1.jpgLocated in downtown Portland, in the shadow of a freeway overpass, our office has easy access to the little things that make urban living great. Cafes, bars, boutiques and galleries all share our block and provide cultural stimulation when we need it. But one of our favorite sources of visual inspiration can be found outside these establishments, literally gracing their brick walls. A certain kind of graffiti”not the egotistical gang-tag variety”has been catching our eyes and proving that the city breathes creative when the sun goes down.

One of our favorite examples of this is a mysterious face that we’ve spotted around the Pearl District and North Portland. In stark contrast to a tagger’s goal of “claiming” neighborhoods by literally signing their names, this work is completely anonymous. It’s a gestural continuous-line drawing that is both simple and expressive”a playful creative outburst in an environment of rules and right angles.

Which brings us to the controversy: Is street art an eyesore, or does it enhance the urban landscape? Does an unsanctioned artistic act on private property enlighten or illegally force a perspective on the public? Can vandalism be beautiful? Can graffiti be activism? Where do you draw the line?

The answers may not be found explicitly on Wooster Collective’s website, but their exploration of such forms of street art as “culture jamming,” “hacking,” “geek graffiti,” “billboard liberations” and “wheatpastes” gives you a lot to think about.

10 Responses to “Street Art: Illicit Inspiration”

  • March 12, 2007 at 3:28 pm | jack says

    Indeed, graffiti as public art for the disenfranchised and other parties has been a topic in art circles for decades, if not longer. What was Lascaux, after all? An exaggeration, to be sure, but that’s basically what that was. What does it mean in today’s context?

    There are more issues of course, like destruction of private property, public expression and the like, and to that end, that must be respected. For yet more questions than answers, see Banksy’s politically-charged “graffiti art”.

  • March 12, 2007 at 5:19 pm | Rick says

    Banksy’s concepts are really cool. And good call about the cave art.

    An extreme example of how this controversy can be flipped came in the form of “The “Splasher” a few months ago, who has been destroying locally celebrated pieces street art in NYC (Banksy, etc) by throwing paint on them. But his manifesto has more holes in it than my favorite sweatsocks. You can read about it here: http://www.gothamist.com/2007/01/23/against_streeta.php

    Thanks for the comment,

  • March 12, 2007 at 7:37 pm | FraudWasteAbuse says

    Street art can be beautiful. Check out some pictures I took of a building covered with it:


  • March 13, 2007 at 5:41 pm | Jan says

    …and don’t forget graffiti research lab.. pushing the envelope..laser graffiti might rule the future in my eyes :-D


    check it out °-°


    ps. and keep on keeping on with the rest..

  • March 14, 2007 at 10:34 am | Rick says

    That laser movie was really cool. Thanks for the links!

  • March 16, 2007 at 5:27 pm | Easton says

    Banksy’s stuff is unreal/fantastic. Street art can be stunning and thought provoking when done with the right motivation

  • March 22, 2007 at 8:39 pm | Ncsf says

    yes all,

    I have been a graffophile since i was a little kid. something about murals and public art has always struck a chord with me, because it is so out there, for everybody to see whether they like it or not. graffiti personalizes that publicity, letting artists lash out with immediate designs, temporary messages and clever expressions. in high skool started noticing a lot of artistic thought going beyond tagging, with names becoming lettering becoming wildstyle becoming nostyle but their own…
    i lived in nyc for the summer of ’96 and saw a ton of shepard fairly’s early “andre the giant” pieces all over my street. now when i travel it seems that local styles of street art are everywhere, and deliciously different everywhere you go. wellington and auckland have good graff. so does San Jose, Costa Rica. but train graffiti is my favorite…

    i used to live in Bozeman, Montana and for one year i lived on the north side in the old packing district. my dog and i would walk most nights down to the boarded-up train station and watch the mobile gallery of graffiti art roll by at easy to read, in-town speeds. i’d see pieces from cali, washington, chicago, everywhere but Bozeman. whomever spent the time to throw their art up on some random tanker car in a railyard somewhere (with one eye looking over their shoulder) will never know how happy they made me.

    my 2 fav graff books right now are Graffiti Brasil and Graffiti Women. Brasilian art is really, really different.


  • March 28, 2007 at 11:49 pm | FACE says

    I am glad you appreciate my graffiti :)

    -THE FACE-

  • March 30, 2007 at 8:34 pm | Rick says

    Glad you found us as well, Mr. Face! Keep us smiling!

  • May 12, 2007 at 7:41 pm | ivalkz says

    Hi My Name Is ivalal.

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