Walking-scaled graffiti

Some graffiti can be seen from cars. Some graffiti is designed to be seen from El, Amtrak, and lightrail trains (see under: the stretch between the Central West End and Union Station Metrolink stops).

And then there’s the small stuff. Some graffiti, due to size, location, or subtlety, can really only be caught if you’re on foot.

I present to you three of my favorite tags from this year: a trifecta of psuedo-signage graffiti. (And I’m really not looking for an argument on the ethics of graf writing, but thanks anyway.) All three of these pieces try to create an aura of authority and official-ness by aping the style of signage that was put there by someone legally permitted to do so. I spotted all three of these while in Chicago over the summer, on foot. Both the smaller size of these works and their psuedo-legit camoflage mean there’s no way I could’ve seen these from a car.


Just west of Clark, in front of Cupcakes.


Under the Blue Line tracks adjacent to Milwaukee, just a bit east of the big North, Milwaukee, and Damen intersection.


On Milwaukee, on an underpass below some train tracks, a little east of Western.

[I love ya, dear readers, I’m turning comment screening on for this one.]

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Published in: on November 12, 2007 at 6:29 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. Graffiti gets a bad rap because of the gang tags and/or slogans that get sprayed across exterior walls at street level. Nevertheless, it can still be be an outlet for creativity in places where creative (and/or critical) expression is otherwise not possible or not supported/encouraged. Gang tags written on someone’s brick home will almost certainly be condemned and scrubbed away, but what about the examples depicted above? You might want to call them incidents of “culture jamming” because of their officious-looking style (block letters) and tones of jest.

    However, gang tags are bad, but witty culture jamming is probably OK, even tho both still constitute property damage?

    Not that I’m trying to knock whomever stenciled letters to a dumpster; I find it delightful. It’s just that the arbitrary tolerance of witty/subtle/artistic forms of vandalism has a mild ring of hypocrisy to me.

    That said, how about more incidents of art as “vandalism?” Why something like these:
    http://www.knittaplease.com/ABOUT.html
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/banksyphotoopportunity/
    http://www.banksy.co.uk/outdoors/horizontal_1.htm

    I especially like Banky’s mural mocking some cruder graffiti on the same wall.

    Indeed, why not a St. Louis version of the Pasquinade somewhere? There has to be plenty of potential material out there, and it would
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasquinade

    Perhaps things like these would encourage/challenge the folks doing cruder graf to clean up their act.


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