If Banksy Came to Ecuador . . . (Trick or Street Art Treat?)


You might know—or maybe you don’t.

But Banksy, the British street artist, has been visiting New York during the past month, posting on his website each day photos and video of work he’s left around the city.  (The site is well worth a look.  Maybe you’ll come to enjoy his art as much as I do.)

Admittedly, I fell in love with street art by way of Haiti.  When we lived there, following the 2010 earthquake, I discovered the work of  “Jerry,” the Banksy of Port-au-Prince, if you will.   (His full name is  Jerry Rosembert Moise.) Though Jerry claims his work is not political, much of it, in fact, is–some of it critiquing the international response to the disaster that leveled his city.

You might also be interested to know that his portrait of Michael Jackson made it into the New York Times.

Jerry's portrait of Michael Jackson--

Jerry’s portrait of Michael Jackson–

Below are a few other photos of Jerry’s work.  While taking them, I launched a love affair with graffiti and began a subsequent interest in Banksy.

Child waving flag in Petionville, Haiti

Children of Haiti are bleeding.

Praying for Haiti

Praying or pouting?  Which would you choose?

Money or education?  Which will matter most for Haiti's future?

Money or education? Which will matter most for Haiti’s future?

Will Christmas come to bleeding and broken country?

Will Christmas come to this bleeding and broken country?

Will generational resignation continue?

Will intergenerational resignation continue?

Watching the World Cup during reconstruction.  Who will win?  Notice the television is resting on top of cement blocks.

Watching the World Cup during reconstruction. Who will win? Notice the television is resting on top of cement blocks.

As far as I know, Banksy has never made it to Haiti.  Perhaps, he will one of these days.

In the meantime, however, his visit to New York is causing quite a stir.  (But then, that’s what street art is meant to do.  Right?)

The media has been covering his stay extensively, as Banksy is leaving his mark on the city–quite literally.

Some, but certainly not all, New Yorkers appreciate the work he’s left around town. One Brooklyn landlord even hired a guard to protect the piece left on her family-owned building.  Still others consider his activity criminal.

But might Banksy travel to Ecuador?

(Obviously, I’m not aware that the man has been here, yet.  My apologies, if I’ve missed his visit.)

Well, were he to come to Cuenca, the city where I live, here’s the work of other graffiti artists with which he’d need to compete.

Would he be up to the challenge?

Take a look and tell me what you think.

Open your mouth.  Make a difference!

Open your mouth. Make a difference!

The three little pigs?

The three little pigs?  No, not really.  Maybe a bull in the middle.

This eye watches over the three creatures imaged above.

This eye watches over the three creatures imaged above.

Man in the mirror?

Man in the mirror?

What does this remind you of?

What does this remind you of?

The "angel" is reaching toward this woman."

The “angel” is “reaching” toward this woman.

You've seen this photo of Sara and Ralph.  But I had to include it here, as well.

You’ve seen this photo of Sara and Ralph. But I had to include it here, as well.

"Dog Tag"--Lucy gets in on the action.  You've seen this, as well.

“Dog Tag”–Lucy gets in on the action. (You’ve seen this, as well.)

I don't know why, but I love this one.

I love this one.

I'm not sure what this says.

The birds come to Cuenca. Not sure what this says.

"The Devil Made me do it"--the name of chapter I'm writing as part of my memoir project.

“The Devil Made me do it”–the name of a chapter I’m currently writing as part of my memoir.  (I know this probably isn’t the devil, but that’s what this face made me think of.)

Study in yellow--

Study in yellow–

Art has gone to the dogs.

Art has gone to the dogs?

I couldn't help myself.  Had to share this face again.

I couldn’t help myself. Had to share this face again.

Eyes again--

More eyes–

What does this say to you?

What does this mean to you?

What does this say?  Is it text?

What does this say? Is it text?

The final few images all appear on the same wall–one that’s on a stairway leading from el Centro to the Tomebamba River.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.  (At least, that's what this reminds me of.)

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. (At least, that’s what this reminds me of.)

Humpty's got an ear full.

Humpty’s got an ear full.

What's growing here?

What’s growing here?

Mind you—many Cuencanos and aging expats alike don’t appreciate the graffiti that’s been left around town.  I even read recently that a commission comprised of city officials and “former” taggers plans to paint public murals, anticipating they would replace the art I’ve shared above.

Mosaic mural--

Mosaic mural in Cuenca–  If I recall correctly, this is opposite the final three pieces imaged above.

Now, this is a lovely mural.  But it doesn’t interest me as much as the grittier stuff.  I know not everyone agrees.

Still, let’s not sanitize the city to benefit a few graying grandmothers from North America. Let’s not white wash what’s cutting edge.

A Cuenca that looks like suburban Atlanta or Minneapolis would be far less engaging than the one we have now—

—or the city we’d have, were Banksy to visit.

Another man--

This Cuenca street art is already Banksy-esque.

Would his arrival here be a trick or street art treat?

What are your feelings about graffiti?  Is there a lot of it where you live?  Does graffiti merely deface public property, or is it the next big thing in artistic expression? 

93 thoughts on “If Banksy Came to Ecuador . . . (Trick or Street Art Treat?)

  1. What a neat post this was! I did not see any of Banksy’s work when we were in NYC but then I wasn’t really looking for it! Next time. I think street art is very interesting and I am drawn into it like you. Thanks for such a interesting post.

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    • I didn’t see any either, Beth Ann. The problem with New York, is that there is SO much to see. It’s impossible to take it all in. Sometimes it feels like sensory overload–but in a good way. Do you ever feel that way when you travel to a big city?

      SO glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for stopping by, my friend! I love hearing from you. By the way, LOVE the new haircut!

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      • Exactly, Colin! I’m wondering, however, if you have any street art on Saba–or what might be on St. Maartin. That could make for an interesting thing to write about and photograph. And if there is none on Saba, I wonder why. Why does the culture there not need it. It would be fascinating either way.

        So great to hear from you, my friend! Enjoy a lovely sunset this evening.

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      • None what so ever. Saba is too clean and well mannered. The same I think applies to most of the island. I was thinking in big cities street art is an expression about a variety of things and many of the islands could consider it bad form to do it.

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      • I think I know that feeling. It’s been especially true for me when I’ve lived outside of the US. The friends I’ve made while blogging keep me in touch with the rest of the world. I suspect a lot of us feel that way.

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    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! We have some cool street art here in Cuenca. I look forward to seeing what’s in Quito, too. I’d just love to see Banksy’s work in person.

      It’s wonderful to hear from you! Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Like

  2. My son was on the lookout for Banksy work when we were in Rome in 2009. Whatever I may have felt about graffiti earlier, with my son being a street artist I embrace it now.

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    • I bet he looks everywhere he goes. I knew your son was an artist, but I didn’t realize he was a street artist. That’s even more cool! It would be fun if you could share even more photos of his work. I’d love to see it!

      It’s wonderful to hear from you, Christine. Take care, my friend!

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  3. You have captured the Soul of the city. I’ve now scrolled through X3 and plan to go back for a 4th and a 5th…. such a variety of subject matter and mood. Love the Study In Yellow….reminds me of you, Kathy…so happy, talented, willing to meet everyone more than half way…Oh my! Capture all of them before they are washed away, please. The joy and the joke are plain for all to enjoy, crossing language barriers, cultural fences, and government committees. BTW, the MJ was actually very nice; a lovely perspective into the artist’s subject and into the artist. Kathy, are you producing any paintings…there?….yet? These people and places are impacting your psyche, too; cant wait to see what comes out of your experience via painting. At times, I got a little confused as to whose art it was and from where but in the end it doesnt really matter; its the individual whose Mind is so rare & wondrous, no mater where they live, where each of us lives, we all share the Unus Mundus. Absolutely, without a doubt, this blog has been my all time fav; the 2nd five star rating was mine. THANK YOU FOR BRINGING IT TO ME….WHAT AN ENORMOUS & INCREDIBLE GIFT~Best wishes to you and Sara in all that you do…….

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    • SO glad you enjoyed this one, JK. Somehow I expected you, of all people, would.

      To be honest, I don’t know the names of any of the Cuenca street artists, so that may be a bit of your confusion. The rest of the work is by “Jerry” from Haiti. Then, of course, some Banksy appears in the CNN video.

      I’m sorry to say, I haven’t painted a thing since we’ve been here. I’ve been too busy writing, setting up a home in a new country, and adjusting in general. I’m sure the art will come in time.

      However, we have had fun hanging my art in the house so far. Just mounted a massive flower I painted on the wall of our patio. It’s done on a table top, I had found let out for the trash in Lexington.

      Still, I’m delighted you loved this post. You’re a sweetie. I will paint soon. I promise! Hugs to you from both of us!

      Like

  4. I love street art. I don’t know much about it. But posts like yours expose me to more of it. I come across it on other sites and enjoy ‘browsing’ through the bold and the color of it all. We’ve come across some in small doses in other towns/cities. Not so much where we are yet.

    I love the picture with Sara in it.

    HUGS from Ohio! 😉

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    • Thanks, Colleen. I’m fond of that photo, as well. Just had to include it here.

      To be honest, I don’t know much about street art, either. But I know I enjoy looking at it, which is what really matters. Don’t you think? Who cares about theory, etc. Do you like looking at it?

      Great to hear from you, my friend. Hugs back to you and David from Sara and me!

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      • I do like looking at it. The few times I’ve seen it in person I’ve loved it! And pictures of it….I’m amazed at the skill people have with spray cans and imagination.

        I don’t know much about history, oops, I mean art! But what I like, I like it.

        😉 hugs returned in abundance!

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      • I’m with you, Colleen. I don’t know much either. And, yes, the skill with a spray can amazes me. Seems to me that would be a really difficult medium! I’ve thought that many times. Wonder if you have some cool stuff in the Columbus area. I imagine you do. Hugs, my dear–and greetings to David!

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  5. The artwork you’ve featured here is wonderful. Absolutely wonderful!

    It brings to mind some of the AMAZING artwork along and under the bridge abutments from the San Diego side, over to the Coronado side of the Coronado Bridge. I’ve also seen some awe inspiring graffiti on train cars.

    I love it when people unleash their creativity for the rest of us to enjoy.

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    • I’ve not seen any of the art you mention near San Diego. Sounds wonderful. And I don’t think I’ve paid a lot of attention to train cars, but that’s a cool concept–art that’s mobile, I mean.

      Great to hear from you, Laurie. Thanks so much for stopping by. And thanks for tweeting my post!!!!!

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  6. I really enjoy street art, and love the fact that we have watched it evolve over the last fifty years from merely graffiti into an art form. It is a grand form of political voice, which I always appreciate when it comes to art. It is also collaborative, as one artist goes over and around other images. These are all great examples. I agree with you about not “gentrifying” the city to make the newcomers more comfortable. That’s a problem we deal with everywhere, it seems. Here, our natural views are being turned into “suburban wastelands” with plastic fences and slick boat storage (that obstructs access and view), streetlights downtown that have taken away our “dark sky” designation… and now the push to make our walking trails accessible to four wheelers, and to pave all of our country roads. I have been working on a plan for a small public forum that is kind of guided collaborative street art, and involves colored chalk on a blackboard surface. I’d love to get that going here on Beaver Island! If you’re interested, check out Candy Chang’s “Before I Die” website. Thanks, Kathryn, for a stimulating post!

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    • I couldn’t agree with you more as you lament about the plastic fences of suburbia–the overly cultivated neatness of it all, homeowners’ associations and the like. That’s why Sara and I lived in an inner city neighborhood in Lexington, Ky. Here in Ecuador, we live a few miles out from the city, but it’s not suburbia as suburbia is in the US. A number of street art photos I took in our own neighborhood.

      I appreciate your response, Cindy. And I love your chalkboard idea–and will check out the website you mention. Thanks for mentioning it! Wonderful to hear from you!

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  7. Here in very “vanilla” Mesa,AZ there is not a lot of street art. Personally, I enjoy seeing it; however in fairness to property owners who may not appreciate it, I think it would be nice if street artists sought permission before “defacing” private property.

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    • I agree, Bill. I don’t know how one can enforce that, but permission seems reasonable, at the very least.

      Sorry you don’t have a lot of street art in Mesa. You might find Banksy’s website interesting to look at, since you have such a dearth in your own part of the world.

      It’s wonderful to hear from you. Thanks for your comment–and I hope you’ll come back again soon!

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      • I meant to add this final comment to my last reply. Have you ever watched the video Pretty as a Postcard on my blog? There is also a post entitled Windwardside. You really see Saba for what it is. Quaint, remote and for some dull.

        I need to go food shopping in Saint Martin. I buy in bulk and ship it back to the island. I plan on taking lots of photos for a future post.

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  8. Really enjoyed many of the street artist pieces you’ve shown…found it hard to believe NYC-ers would be willing to pay so much for Banksy work…I liked your art there better.

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    • It is a curiosity, Charlie. Some of his work is quite expensive. However, some was sold for $60 somewhere in NY, and few folks bought it. Then once the story broke on the news. Counterfeits sold like mad. It’s a weird world we live in!

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  9. There’s a big difference between graffiti and street art. One’s a nuisance, the other is an artistic expression. I see both around here; good street art is beautiful and vibrant, but graffiti sucks. Guess I’m on the fence, lol. But I definitely admire Banksy’s work.

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  10. I love Banksy’s sense of humor. He’s done a great job during his visit here in the Big Apple. Here in NYC we have 5 Pointz, a graffiti museum, but unfortunately, it looks like its days are numbered and will soon bface the wrecking ball. The museum’s creator has asked Banksy for support, but it seems like he’s staying out of the fight. You might want to check out this article about 5 Pointz and contribute some of your images of some of the great graffiti from Cuenca:

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/18/5-pointz-new-york-banksy

    Also your Banksy link doesn’t work. Here’s one that chronicles his NYC visit day by day:

    http://www.banksyny.com/

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    • Thanks for the link, LA! That’s the one I thought I was linked to. I will fix that. Good to know.

      Also, thanks so much for mentioning 5Pointz. I’m not familiar with it. Sorry to hear that it might close. Sad that Banksy won’t lend his support.

      I really don’t know that much about street art, but it fascinates me.

      Great to hear from you. Has any of Banksy’s work turned up in your neighborhood?

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      • I hope they win the fight, as well. I looked at the website. The art is simply stunning!

        Hope you and Reggie have a great weekend. It’s a holiday here. Cuenca is celebrating its independence from Spain.

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  11. Banksy has been creating quite a stir around here. I really like street art too. There is a place in Queens called Five Pointz that I think you’d love. Street artists add their artwork to an abandoned building and the colors / designs are so powerful when viewed all together. http://5ptz.com/

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    • Jackie–thanks for the link. Our buddy over at Lame Adventures just left a comment about it, as well. She says it might close–which would be tragic. I bet there’s some great street art in your neighborhood. I know there has been at least one Banksy in Brooklyn. Is it anywhere close to you?

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  12. I have mixed feelings about graffiti. In the city where I live, nothing so beautiful exists. It’s usually just young punks defacing garage doors and the homes. However, there are a few murals that were actually commissioned to adorn buildings in Cleveland and they are gorgeous. You can see some here http://clevelandmurals.org/ . This is my favorite:
    http://allthingsclevelandohio.blogspot.com/2008/04/clevelands-whaling-wall.html .

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    • I know what you mean. The stuff defacing garage doors can be a pain. I don’t know enough to understand how graffiti developed into “street art.” I want to learn more. Thanks for mentioning the murals in Cleveland. I’ll check out the site you mention.

      Great to hear from you, dear Miranda. Hugs and love to your whole family!

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  13. This is a great collection of “street art”. I do appreciate a good graffiti when I run across one, but I’ve not made a study of it. It strikes me that this is the art of our ancestors. Artists trying to make the world we live in more beautiful, and more relevant. Artists trying to remind us to open our eyes and look around us instead of taking it all for granted. They make me smile.

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    • Interesting that you mention graffiti being the work of our ancestors. Actually, I suppose that’s what cave paintings were. I know there was graffiti in ancient Rome–that the word in Latin means to scratch, or something like that. I need to look it up again. Regardless, yes, it’s an attempt to make the world relevant. Makes me smile too. Take care my friend!

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    • I suspected it was something you’d appreciate. I also think a lot of cities in the south of the US frown upon things like street art. I don’t know.

      Great to hear from you, Andra. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  14. I love good street art, like the ones in these pictures. They are so beautiful and give voice to a people. Reminds me of the John Lennon wall in Prague that I posted about last year. Also, when I was in Venezuela I saw some amazing street art depicting the fight for freedom and Venezuelan patriotism. I heard about Banksy being in NY. DId you hear, by the way, that he arranged to have someone sell his art on a corner, but never identifying the art as his (though he did sign them discreetly). They were selling for $60 each and at first no one was buying. But then business picked up and the media was saying how each work was actually worth much, much more than what it sold for that day. Some lucky art aficionados got a great deal!

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    • I’m sure there’s amazing street art in Venezuela–probably even more so than in Ecuador.

      I’ll have to go look back for your Prague photos. So much from last summer is a blur of moving for me. I would love to visit Prague!

      I read that same story. However, I heard that after the media got ahold of story, then counterfeits began to be made and sold like crazy. I didn’t read the latter part of this. Sara told me about it.

      It’s always wonderful to hear from you, Monica! Hope your week is going well!

      Like

  15. I’m a huge fan of street art and I think the work adds to the feeling of a community. I know not all feel that way, but I love to see it. I hadn’t heard of Banksy so thanks for the introduction.

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    • I’m happy to introduce you to Banksy. I didn’t know anything about him before we moved to Haiti and I started paying attention to street art for the first time. Glad to hear you, too, enjoy good street art.

      It’s wonderful to hear from you this morning. Hope your week is going well!

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  16. I LOVE this! My daughter brought home a book of Banksy’s work several years ago and we both fell totally in love with it. I have no idea if she knows he’s in New York City or not but just excitedly emailed her the link. (She lives there now, you know.) One of the best parts of visiting the city is viewing the street art. Your photos are marvelous examples. It feels that it’s a way that people can not be held down, that they find ways to express themselves. It’s as if creativity finds pathways in which to come forth no matter how down-trodden. Thank you, Kathy.

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    • Yes, now that you mention it, I remember your daughter is in NYC. I suspect she knows he’s been there. Seems he’s caused quite a stir.

      I also love it when folks find any form of expression available to them. To me that’s the rawest, more fundamental form of art. It has the greatest power to affect change. Maybe that’s why some others dislike or distrust it. Don’t know.

      So glad you enjoyed the post, Kathy. I love hearing from you!!!

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    • Thank you, Val. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I had fun taking the photos. However, we were in another part of town last night, and I saw so much more wonderful work. I’m going to have to go take more photos.

      Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

      Like

  17. Pingback: Rio Street Art – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. | A Mother's Journey

    • Thanks, Kim———so glad you enjoyed it. There’s some pretty exciting stuff to see around here. In fact, Sara and I were out the other evening in another part of ,and we saw even more amazing work. Great to hear from you. Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

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    • Hi, Sandy! Great to hear from you. Yes, we have the ugly tags around here, as well. Though some of them are actually rather elaborate and fascinating to look at. But, yeah, the boring, ugly stuff is everywhere, I suppose. Hope you’re enjoying your weekend, my friend!

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  18. Quite simply, it would be tragic were the commission to paint over these stunning, demonstrative and thought provoking works of art. I could stand before each one and study it for hours. It is highly imaginative.

    Such a richness and depth of character comes through the art of indigenous peoples. Do you think this phenomenon as opposed to that of our own “controlled” works is due to their lack of an inner critic?

    Here again, I have e-traveled to an art gallery while just sitting in my computer chair.

    Like

    • I, truly, have no idea what kind of inner critic these folks do or don’t have. Maybe they just have skill–way more than I do! LOL I can’t imagine, to be honest.

      Also, though some of these artists may be indigenous, others may not be. There is definitely both indigenous and more European ethnic backgrounds among Ecuadorians.

      Whichever, the case may be, I simply wish I had this kind of skill! My inner critic is extremely over-developed!

      Again, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE hearing from you Samantha!

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  19. Living in a suburb, not far from a railroad crossing, I mainly see graffiti on the train cars. There is a definite talent as far as I’m concerned. Unfortunately, most of the draw for these artists seems to be in leaving their marks in places where they’re not supposed to.

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    • Another blogger I read who lives in the Midwest describes graffiti on train cars. I haven’t seen much of that, so the notion of graffiti in motion is fascinating to me. I suppose that wouldn’t be called “street art.” Thanks so much for stopping by, Terri. I love hearing from you, my friend!

      Like

  20. As a Jamaican, artist poet living in Taos, New Mexico, defining what is “art” or graffiti seems to be a political and socioeconomic declaration. If you po, they call it graffiti and lock you up…If you rich, it ends up in MOMA. Love your blog!

    Like

    • Excellent point! Thank you for articulating that reality so clearly. And thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. I, too, am an artist-poet, by the way. It’s wonderful to meet you. Hope you’ll visit again soon!

      Like

  21. I love graffiti that is more image-based versus just ‘tagging’. Some of the name tags, granted, are still amazingly executed, but I love when full-on illustration gets involved. Most of the photos I take now are of graffiti when I’m out and about. I totally love it!

    It’s interesting to note that one of the neighbourhoods here in Victoria, in an effort to combat pretty amateur but prevalent tagging on public property, actually sanctioned a particular wall for street art. Ever since the graffiti artists worked their magic on that wall, the whole surrounding area has stopped being tagged. Maybe it’s a respect thing between the artists themselves?

    Like

    • LOVE that Victoria has a designated space for street art. SOOOOO wise! I’m not crazy about plain-old tags either.

      Funny thing is that we keep discovering more and more street art around town–much of it when we don’t have a camera handy!

      Maybe there is a respect among artists, but other taggers in NYC have defaced the work that Banksy left around town. Sad.

      Like

  22. Pingback: Street Art is All Around | American Living Abroad

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