I have to admit, I do enjoy some good graffiti art. My friend Eileen asked me whether what my son did was similar to what the gang taggers do. Well, that concerns me a little bit on occasion too, but no, I don't think it's all that similar. What I know of gang taggers is that they usually mark their territory--or the territory they plan to move into--with initials rather than full-scale "art work." Yes, we see that around Sacramento, and I think it's a pretty ugly sight. But graffiti-style art work is different, I think. From what I can tell, the only thing taggers and graffiti artists have in common is the medium they use--spray paint.
First of all, I love murals on buildings. I always enjoy seeing, for instance, aquariums with the sides of the building painted with whales, sea lions, and whatever else one might find in the ocean. Or a surfboard shop where an otherwise blank wall is painted to look like a surfer catching a ginormous wave. Or a bakery where the wall facing the parking lot has a giant painting of a grandmotherly-type woman removing fresh baked loaves from the oven. I'm sure there are building codes in most cities that regulate that kind of thing. And I don't think I'd really enjoy it so much if my next door neighbor did something similar on his house! But I like quirky stuff--you knew that already, right?
My route to and from work runs along the railroad tracks, and I often see railroad cars passing by, spray painted with anything from taggers' initials to full blown graffiti art. I like it! I enjoy those "moving canvases" so much more than the standard, often-rusty container cars bearing a company's boring logo.
Much of my drive takes me through neighborhoods that are far from "upscale." The road isn't residential, and most of the commercial businesses along the way aren't looking to attract customers based on curb appeal--businesses like tow yards, light industrial warehouses, an old VFW hall, and a couple of auto repair shops. A bar of some sort has occupied one corner as long as I can remember, looking like nothing more than a cinder block box with two doors--one in front and one in back. It has always seemed to do a reasonably steady but light business. In the last few years, though, I think the ownership has changed. I've often seen, as I drive to work around 9 in the morning, a man in a large brimmed hat sweeping the sidewalks and parking lot. A black drum barbecue made its appearance in the front lot some months back. The building has been cleaned up and some repairs have been made. It's still in an "iffy" location, and I'm not sure it will ever be a success, but now when I pass by, I smile. The art work that's appeared on the building's exterior in the last few months has a lot to do with that. Today I took my camera along so I could take a couple photos to share with you. They aren't the best--I was, after all, in a car that was moving, albeit slowly.
There it is, that blue building: The Railroad Cafe. Right across on the other side of the road I'm driving on are the railroad tracks. I'm not sure what all those things painted on the wall are--some kind of pictures of the foods on their menu--but there in the right front corner is some part of a written menu. I do know it says BBQ. This is the view I see in the morning on my way to work.
And here's what I see coming home:
See the train painted on the side? Above the train cars are snow capped moutains and clouds in a blue sky. Near the front corner on one of the cars near its roof is painted "Entrance." Right there is a door, although you can barely see it, even in person.
Then, here's the front of the building:
The engine, of course. And there's a real window there where the engine's window would be. I don't know who did the art work but I think it's wonderful! So much more fun to look at than what the building used to be.
Of course, the work done on this building is much more elaborate than the fairly quick "greeting card" left for my hubby by our son, but this is more the kind of "art" my son enjoys when he has the time and space. And although I haven't seen it in person yet, I've seen photos on my son's cell phone of a rather large mural he painted on several sheets of plywood in his garage.
Are these the Piccasos of the 21st century? Well, maybe not. But who knows? I do know that I enjoy seeing this kind of art a lot more than some of the things it covers up!