Tag Archives: wheatpaste

Delightful and Disturbing

Wow… so yesterday was a bit controversial… on a couple levels.  That’s GOOD.

First, we got reprimanded for promoting illegal activity (and even making fun of the ways to not get caught… which I still think is hilarious).  Let me say here in public, what I also wrote directly to this commenter, who since, retracted his comment of critique and offered up a more positive response…

My goal here is to promote ART. Both the conventional (legal, publicly condoned/sanctioned) and the unconventional (which yes, at times, can be illegal).  I am not a proponent of altering or defacing private (or public for that matter) property without permission.  That’s ME… those are my values. For the most part, I believe the laws enacted by our representative government are designed for the benefit of society at large.  Though there have certainly been many mistakes along the way… we learn as we go.  I also said in a past post (see There Are Laws About These Things…) that I believe it’s up to each artist to decide for him/herself what is acceptable behavior, and what risks are willing to be undertaken.

We live in a society based upon liberty.  And the First Amendment to our Constitution (its position at the top of the list indicates its primary importance) guarantees us all the rights of free speech.  Yes, this can be interpreted in a mind boggling number of ways, exampled by the current legal challenges to campaign finance reform (who knew money was speech?!?)  But I would argue, and I’m sure others have too, that displays of art can be considered speech as well.

This doesn’t give the artist the right to deface another individual’s property… that person has guaranteed rights as well.  But it does guarantee the artist the right to display his message (his speech) somewhere.  And here is my beef… we’ve left few public spaces for the artists.

We’ve got plenty of abandoned, dilapidated properties in this city that certainly aren’t being tended to by their owners.  Artists take advantage of these sites because they have few other options if they want to display their art publicly, and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.  If kids are running around w/ paint, chalk, posters, and wheatpaste in an effort to be creative, isn’t that a hell of a lot better than running around with guns and drugs?

Let’s find ways to support their creativity… channel it in positive ways, eh?  Some cities have designed skate parks for skateboarders… can’t we set aside Art parks for Artists? I personally think this would be way cool.  And a magnet, not just for artists, but art patrons and tourists alike.  My upcoming interview with Mark Bode talks about just such a project in San Francisco.  Check back soon for that…

The second controversy from yesterday’s post involved the content of the images.  A friend of mine said she found the newsprint photographs of what I assume are developmentally challenged individuals, disturbing.

I believe there is plenty of great art that can (and is designed to) delight us.  That’s one function. But there are other functions as well, and sometimes the best art, the kind that moves society forward in new ways of thinking, is, well… disturbing.

I’m not saying the wheat pastes from yesterday fall into that category… maybe they do, maybe they don’t.  What I am saying is that we can choose to live in a sanitized world where we are spared from disturbing imagery (think of the Bush era’s manipulation of the media to prevent us from seeing any of the deceased soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan).  Or we can live in a world where we confront reality… disturbing as it may be at times.

Having said all that, today I will delight you with something I think few would find controversial.  It’s another pet hospital mural by our friend Stefen from Land of the Sky Blue Waters.  It’s titled “Promenade at Lake Merrit” and was created in 2004, and dedicated to the protection of Lake Merritt in 2005.  Enjoy…

oaktownart_20091001_1

oaktownart_20091001_2oaktownart_20091001_dtl

Wheaties…

So here’s something random I came across yesterday… These are wheat pastes, which are essentially home made stickers.  These were spotted around Lake Merritt on the bases of a few light fixtures.  I’ll be covering Lake Merritt in more depth in upcoming posts… there a lot going on there right now.

Each base had a bunny/carrot cartoon on one side, and what seems to be a piece of newsprint on the other.  I have no idea if this was all done by one artist, or a pair, each claiming one side.  In either case, it’s pretty weird.

oaktownart_20090930_1

Wheat paste is commonly used by graffiti artists to hang posters & smaller applications and is a simple solution made out of water and flour. It’s one of the most environmentally friendly adhesives because it’s made from organic materials that eventually break down.

It’s also essentially the same goop we all used as kids to make paper mache piggy banks around balloons in arts & crafts… do you remember? I do!

oaktownart_20090930_2

Here’s a link to “the best wheat paste recipe” (self-proclaimed):
http://www.citynoise.org/article/1177

The post also offers some tips for how to go about applying your art without getting caught, and undoubtedly my favorite is “Carry a Gap shopping bag.” Who could possibly suspect a fine upstanding consumer of Gap products?  I love it!

oaktownart_20090930_3