Located 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.