Reub's journey

17 September 2012

Art on walls


I live in an upscale little college town. If you wander through the alleys in the vibrant downtown area you will find poetry and photographs hanging where there might otherwise be graffiti.






When there is graffiti it's rather carefully placed, like this pretty cool example, hanging in a space that seemed to beg for it.



This building, if it were in LA, NYC, or almost anywhere in Europe or South America, would be a canvas for taggers.   People who practice graffiti tend to speak for the dispossessed; they make their mark as a show of power over those who are seen as powerful. It's only a matter of time before it becomes more prevalent here.





 But taggers will almost never make their mark on a space that has been painted already. If you own a giant blank wall you are always free to make your own statement, and this has been done in spades recently in my little town.






 David Lin, Taiwanese, hired an artist to paint a mural on a building he's turning into a restaurant. The 100' mural depicts an oppressive China beating down Tibet and Taiwan. Unsurprisingly, Chinese students at OSU were offended and complained.




 Diplomats from the Chinese embassy flew up from San Francisco to meet with the mayor.




 
 They asked her to have it taken down.



 
She said she has no jurisdiction over art, and reminded them that in the US there is freedom of speech.




 
 The ensuing  bro-ha-ha made international press and has brought Mr. Lin a lot of support. 




In terms of the domination of Tibet, China actually has a point that is rarely heard. However China has no right to ask Mr. Lin to paint over his mural here in the US, and so it will stay.




I say "Yaaay for that!" Art that is spray-painted on the property of others...this is controversial. Still I can't help but be fascinated.

31 comments:

  1. But I like the sense of humor of the spray-paint artist. It is interesting to learn how other culture really don't grasp our freedom of speech. I hope we never lose it.

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    1. I had a good laugh at the "I'm art too"...glad I'm not the only one!

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  2. Hooray for freedom of speech winning out! I do hope that the owner doesn't eventually cave to pressure. I'm sick of other countries telling us what we can and can't say. I'm sick of people getting offended over every little thing. Dadgummit, this is America the FREE. At least it is right now, and I hope it stays that way. Amen. Okay, off my soapbox now. Sorry.

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    1. Yeah, it was crazy for China to demand that this be removed, but I'm sure it was just political posturing.

      However I'm sick of people being offended over every little thing too.

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  3. pretty amazing the art hung in the alleys. murals are neat, even if controversial.

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  4. The US government doesn't sensor art, and it doesn't sensor bad movies about Mohammed. Live with it, world.

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    1. If only the world might understand this.

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  5. Interesting that China does not want its brutality depicted but is unwilling to stop it. Our freedom of speech in art is worth defending.

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  6. Have you looked at my friend Steve's blog Shadows and Light? He has been photographing street art in NYC and London for years.

    I looked at the link about Tibet. Good heavens, what a lot of propaganda!

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    1. Yeah that link reads like a terrible propaganda brochure and fails to convincingly make the point that old Tibet was imperfect. I replaced the link with a better one that also shows Tibet's stance.

      I don't think I've seen Steve's blog, but I'll definitely have a look.

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  7. I hadn't heard about this but yay for the mayor standing up to the Chinese diplomats.

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  8. The Muslims who are protesting (sometimes violently) in the Middle East are asking the US to stop/ban the release of a movie about/showing Mohammed made by some fool in California ... one woman interviewed said she believed in free of speech but NOT when it comes to religion .... makes me wonder what will happen ..

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    1. I'd sooner take the stance that it's religion causing the problems, not freedom of speech!

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    2. http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/on-the-freedom-to-offend-an-imaginary-god/

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    3. Thanks Dan, I read this & thought it was pretty much right on.

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  9. I support art and freedom and accept the risk that both may produce things that I do not like.

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    1. That's a nice succinct way of stating a sensible approach. Now if only more people would adopt this kind of thinking.

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  10. Long live the arts.

    Here in Minneapolis, street art and taggers vie for space. Art is winning, but the spray painters don't give up...

    Pearl

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    1. Pearl, I doubt that spray painters are going away anytime soon.

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  11. Incredible street art ! So much better than having non sense & vulgar graffiti on the walls !

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    1. I enjoy most of it, and I like it that the city has made an effort to both support art and make use of wall space.

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  12. I like street art and graffiti both. I'm always amazed by how others express themselves on these rough canvases.

    Being Canadian, I can of course agree with freedom of that expression. But just to play devil's advocate, how do you think the average American might feel about encountering a large mural depicting something particularly brutal and offensive to them - like a gang rape or some other form of graphic violence? Would/should that artist and building owner be pressured to remove the art?

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    1. You ask a good question. A mural that exposes brutality and therefore advocates against it, this I don't object to. But art that encourages brutality, it's hard to support that.

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  13. Fascinating!
    As a new principal in a school that was regularly tagged, I engaged the locals to design a mural. Our students were asked to volunteer after school and on holidays to design and paint the mural which turned out to be the history of that area, and the icons that put it on the map, such as the space program nearby and the movie house owned by Judy Garland's family where she first performed as a child before and after each feature. Just researching these facts became an obsession for our attention starved teens who used to spend their idle hours tagging everything.

    Twelve years later, and even after I left the place, that mural has not been tagged yet!
    Art speaks volumes; and it speaks in ways we cannot gauge.

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    1. Rosaria, what a great project, involving the kids in a mural like that. Having a real stake in it makes it meaningful and lasting. Twelve years? I bet many of them show it off to their children.

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  14. I like your Mayors stance on this issue. Freedom of speech is a right to every human, no matter what is stated. Interesting piece on TIbet/China too. How many people support the ´Free Tibet´movement without knowing much of the history, like myself, i wonder. Still, i think it should be given its own status as a country. Imagine how great it would be if all of our countries were run by someone as compassionate as the Dalai Lama...

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    1. I was unaware of Tibet's full history until C came back from China the second time & shared a bit of the other side of the story. Tibet has not been the island of wisdom and serenity that I like to imagine. I do think China's position is weaker than Tibet's & that Tibet should be given some kind of sovereignty. But whether Tibet, landlocked, poor,and home to a variety of ethnicity, could ever make it by itself in this world...I don't know.

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