plein air landscape painting
Painting From Life vs. From Photos

Guest Post by Mark Hobson


Some graffiti and a mural in Pittsburgh, PA. The mural, lower right, is of Pgh’s 2 Andys – Andy Warhol and Andrew Carnegie – getting their hair and nails done.The photos can be seen large on my blog

Recently, on my photography blog (The Landscapist), I posted a topic about graffiti – for purposes of this discussion, it might be helpful to read it.

The gist of it was simple – I had just returned from Pittsburgh, PA where the Graffiti Task Force had made what was being billed as the biggest graffiti bust in U.S. history. A lone graffiti artist with over 80 ‘tags’ to his credit is estimated to have caused over $500,000.00 in public and private property damages (keep in mind that, in this case, ‘public’ = bridge abutments and ‘private’ = abandoned structures).

Without going into great detail and for those of you not familiar with Pittsburgh, I will simply sate that the city is awash in visual eyesores which are the inevitable result of the severe economic devastation the area has experienced over the last quarter century. The city keeps trying to rise from the ashes of the end of big steel but it never quite seems to get it right.

The U.S. graffiti community considers Pittsburgh as a target-rich environment, quite possibly the largest ‘canvas’ in the U.S. Many travel here for the abundance of ‘opportunities’ the decaying public and private infrastructure present. The powers-that-be in the Pittsburgh body politic, to include law enforcement, have essentially declared this activity to be a scourge. The ‘miscreants’ need to be hunted down and punished with the full weight of the law.

No effort or, for that matter, consideration has been given to the notion of harnessing this situation for the enrichment of the community. No effort or consideration has been given to the fact that there is a difference between vandals with spray paint and artists with a voice. No effort or consideration has been given to the possibility of turning the area into the Sistine Chapel of the graffiti world.

That said, I am wondering what a diverse group of artists such as the one here on Art & Perception thinks about this situation.