Friday, August 31, 2007

Azle, TX railroad conductor honored for collection of boxcar graffiti pics

We've debated before on this blog the question of whether graffiti is art or vandalism. Personally, I think its both. At a minimum, this item from the Azle News suggests the answer lies in the eye of the beholder. Michelle Winder, a railroad conductor from Azle, will soon open an art show in a Fort Worth gallery depicting photographs of boxcar graffiti taken over the last several years. Her work will be showing beginning next week at
the Heliotrope Gallery on Fort Worth’s Bluebonnet Circle. Winder’s photographic images of graffiti-tagged boxcars, taken around the Fort Worth area, can be viewed at the gallery starting Monday, Sept. 4, through Saturday, Oct. 13. A special showing of her one-woman show titled “Out On A Rail,” can be viewed Saturday, Sept.8, during Fort Worth’s annual Gallery Night, from 10 to 9 p.m.
Here are a couple of examples of Winder's photos:

Winder's work raises all the questions about whether graffiti is art to the surface and forces us to confront them head on. If graffiti is vandalism when it's performed, does it become art when it's appreciated? Is Winder's work worthy of a gallery showing because of the artistry of the graff writers, or does graffiti become art only when viewed through another artist's lens?

Indeed, if images of graff have cash value on the open market, does that mean graff writers who put them there added value to the boxcars, or that, perhaps more accurately, there is an element of unexchanged value laying dormant in illegal graffiti? This last thought reminds of the Liberty Science Center's admonition to graff writers: "Paint responsibly," what you create is a "cultural asset."

Interesting stuff to think about. I especially like the pic of the Boxcar Dog. See much of Grits' graffiti coverage including suggested solutions collected here.

UPDATE: I think Keith and I must be on some kind of mind meld, because Dirty Third Streets has a fresh post up about graffiti and trains in Hearne, TX. MORE Hearne train graffiti from Dirty Third.


Anonymous said...

You have put my thoughts into words here. Thanks!

Graffiti is a communication by someone without your writing skills. Perhaps the art is being able to understand the meaning.

The problem is the element of vandalism of painting other people's property. Erasure may force young communicators to stay in school and learn how to write. Not a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see gangster children to spray paint their own momma's car or side of her house.

I find it acceptable and would encourage gangster children to "do up" their pinned up emotions and express themselves freely using their own family property.

jdgalt said...

Presenting graffiti as art only encourages the criminals by glorifying them.

I'm curious to know if Texas has a law like California's that entitles victims to the proceeds of any book or media appearance a criminal writes to tell his "side of the story". Certainly any publication of graffiti as art would (and morally should) fall under that law.

I'm also curious whether you, or any other advocate of encouraging graffiti as art, are eager to offer up your own home or car as a canvas for the taggers. Hey, if your view is correct then your property will increase in value after the "artists" have had their way with it!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

JDG - Have you actually read my public policy proposals on graffiti or when you come on here are you ONLY arguing against a straw man of your own creation? It seems like the latter, but I always wonder.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Oh, and JDG, what crime do you think this photographer committed, exactly?

Anonymous said...

Shitzforbreakfast - why do you defend such felony/misdemeanor behavior simply because you did it because of your lack of bringing and your plethora off education? Shame , shame on you for promoting ignorance in your writing of your left view of such criminal and punishable behavior.

Your momma. Shoulda been

Anonymous said...

I'm liking your series on graffitti very much :) When I visited the Czech Republic a few years ago, part of the field trip included a study of the graffitti there ~ nothing like the vibrant images you've been showing and what most of us would call graffitti, but very detailed artworks that completely covered some houses in the older parts of the towns. Graffitti is as old as prostitution ~ cave paintings are graffitti for goodness sake!

Have you heard of our celebrated graffitti artist Banksy?
He had an exhibition in New York a while ago, but still does wonderful graffitti in his hometown of Bristol about 40 miles from me.

Is graffitti really vandalism, if it's not actually breaking anything?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks, Sunray - personally I think graffiti is vandalism as well as art, and anybody who's had to pay to clean uninvited graffiti off their property would agree.

@10:38 - I feel no shame for my writing. Perhaps you should feel some for bilious criticisms that ignore what I've written. I didn't choose to give this woman a gallery show, I'm just writing about it, and what are the implications. And as w/ JDG, please read my actual public policy proposals before assuming you know my position on graff. To judge from your comments, you don't, though I've written extensively on the topic. best,

Anonymous said...

All right, now that's just weird. Seriously, that's just crazy.

I got more train photos coming...

Anyone interested in trains might want to check out "Who Is Bozo Texino?" I've never seen it, but apparently it's done by a Texas filmmaker and it's about some famous scribbling, train-hopping hobo back in the day.

On that note, I probably should see it 1) before I go recommending it to random people and 2) because it sounds damn interesting.

texasjailbird said...

That film Who is Bozo Texino? is really interesting—a classic underground look at hidden side of USA and old style railroad graffiti....