Sunday, June 29, 2014

To be unexpected

Editing of text? Check.  Foot notes converted into end notes? You betcha. Academic jargon stripped? Well, sort of. There's still a lot left in the manuscript, and that's how I likes it. Gotta say more than just "Graffiti murals are cool, here's how some of them came to be," right? It's always painful to revisit words written a long time ago, even if that "ago" is less than five years; and indeed, some of what I wrote for my thesis, I can't even begin to wrap my head around. Needless to say, that was the easiest stuff to scrap.

Now I'm in the middle of a much less fun part: Pictures. Ugh. Along with a manuscript, I have to turn in a disc with all the images titled properly, along with a spreadsheet with corresponding captions, and if necessary, photo release forms. The rule for the latter is that if a picture was taken by me on private property, or if the picture belongs to someone else, then I need to get permission. If it was taken by me on public land, then it's mine to do with it what I please. Thankfully, roughly 75 percent of the images I want to use fall into the latter category. But I'm still going to have to wrastle up a few forms from folks.

Then there's the issue of photo quality. Some images aren't high res, and some, like this one, just aren't as good they should be (chain link fence in the front, shadows in the back). What can I say, I never really imagined I'd be considering this sort of issue when I embarked on the thesis four or so years ago.

So I'll be making a few trips to Inwood and possibly Staten Island in the next few weeks to snap a few more pics. I won't bore ya'll with the ins and outs of securing permission from folks to use their pictures or get proper captions; needless to say, I feel like I'm really close to being done. Formatting the text properly and making sure the new art goes where its supposed to is going to be very un-fun, but I've got a whole month left to make it happen.

Anyhoo! Saw this little guy earlier this month on a run through DUMBO:
If you've read much of my blog, you know I'm a sucker for figures in graffiti, and this has the added value of being somewhat cheeky and cute at the same time. And low and behold, Luna Park has written about him on her invaluable Street Spot blog. Apparently many pieces from Art is Trash are literally assembled out of trash, which makes them especially fleeting in nature. I like that notion; it's very much the way that New York City works. It can be jarring to see things come and go so quickly, especially when they're restaurants or stores that have been around forever (ahem, J&R, Pearl Art), but it's also what keeps things fresh.

But with all due respect, I'm not sure I agree that there's a need for an antidote for permission walls, at least not down this way. Mind you, I understand where her rationale from. A visitor to Williamsburg, Greenpoint or Bushwick these days can easily become overwhelmed by street art of all stripes; I know this because when I visit there, I hardly know where to look first. It's fair to say northern Brooklyn, the epicenter of NYC street art, is close to a saturation point. And this is coming from someone who likes this stuff.
Y'all sure ya didn't miss any spots there, eh?
It's an unfortunate reality of New York right now: Some places are filled to the rafters with street art, both sanctioned and unsanctioned, and others, like say, Sunset Park, are pretty much barren. Even down my way, Gowanus has a pretty sparse selection of inspiring graffiti. Sure, we get interesting entries here and there, like this, but rarely anything that makes you just go 'Whoah."

Well, until now. A few weeks, ago, I went for a run along Nevins Street, and stumbled on this, on the side of the Lower East Side Ecology Center's e-waste warehouse. Yes, I know the Lower East Side is in Manhattan. Haven't you heard everyone's moving to Brooklyn? I've dropped off various electronic gadgets here, and always thought this wall would be a great one for a mural; It's large, flat, blank and it's often tagged by random writers.

Apparently the good folks the Wallnuts thought so too. 
Werc Hernandez
I haven't been down to the wall since June 2; in that time the wall has had much, much more added to it. I can't wait to get back down there to see the finished product. I would imagine many people will be stopping and lingering awhile to see what is a bit of a rarity here, and which, for me, was as pleasant a surprise as the Art is Trash piece. Which just goes to show, as long as you don't overdo a good thing, it can retain the ability to amaze, impress and inspire.