Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Urban Art or Blight?

Graffiti at the Brookland-CUA Metro station. Note in the center background of the picture,
the bell tower of the National Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

I'm not a huge, huge fan of graffiti, especially when it's meant to mark territory (which generally implies some kind of nefarious and illicit gang-type activity.) Occasionally though, there are pockets of this urban scrawl that catch my eye. One such spot is at the Brookland-CUA Metro stop near Catholic University of America. These two samples are especially interesting to me because, in the first, you can see the spire of the National Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. I liked the colors in this tag and the juxtaposition of the basilica tower in the background.

Tribute in graffiti to slain Washington Redskins' football player Sean Taylor.

In the second, the graffiti is a tribute to Washington Redskins' free safety Sean Taylor, who was shot in his Miami, Florida, home in November 2007. He died a day later. I'm not a Redskins fan (I'm not really partial to any football team), but I thought this was a moving memorial to a young man who died too young and who had so much potential in the field of sport.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 2/08


Fénix - Bostonscapes said...

I'm funny about graffiti too. I think I like them best when the whole wall is painted, like a mural.

Bobbie said...

I see these when I go to Dallas. There is a tunnel dedicated to graffiti with some nice images. I like the boxcars too, that roll though Longview with beautiful scrollings on them. I guess I have to say I like the art form, but dislike the cause.

Lisa Sarsfield said...

Graffiti is definately a hot topic in NZ lately. Seems to be everyone has an opinion. A business man recently stabbed to death a tagger he caught tagging his business and there's a tagging problem in most towns and cities. But that is Tagging, not art of any kind. It's not associated to any particular race or class either, bored rich kids get busted tagging as well as the street kids.
Now, personally I don't like tagging, the territorial scrawl that springs up on residential walls, business's and childrens playgrounds BUT I do love street art. The proper stuff that requires a great deal of skill and knowledge. I like your photo's, I have been thinking of doing a series of street art pics, you have me inspired again. Thanks for sharing the part of your area that I wouldn't see in the brochures:)

PS: I had no idea about the Chinese NY dates..must have my head in the sand!

D.C. Confidential said...

Fenix: I think I agree with you.

Bobbie: I hadn't even thought about the graffiti on boxcars. I'll have to keep an eye out for that around here, too. That tunnel in Dallas sounds interesting.

Lisa: You're right to distinguish between tagging and graffiti. I had no idea it was such an issue in NZ. Look forward to your pictures of street art.

Dusty Lens said...

For the most part, I do not like tagging grafitti. Yet these thypes of murals are quite the work of art. And there lies the question; what is art?

I would prefer this type of grafitti to NOT be on a building of any type. And I also am not in favor of every inch of our public space being utilized as a canvas for grafitti artists. Yet I believe thry need an outlet to create their works.

It is the taggers who give grafitti artists and their murals a bad reputation.

D.C. Confidential said...

DL: I hear you and agree! I've seen some beautiful murals in urban settings (San Francisco has some beautiful examples of urban art) and am not opposed to creative outlets. But, as you point out, using every single blank space out there isn't appropriate and neither is tagging. It's a touchy subject, no doubt, as Lisa pointed out in the case of the business man in New Zealand who stabbed and killed a tagger.

Cowbark said...

Ahhh! CUA - thats my old 'hood! Oh the nights I spent catching the metro at Brookland/CUA...

Great photos, though - exactly what I think of when I think of graffiti in DC. I found this graffiti when I was wandering around DuPont in December.

d.c. confidential said...

Cowbark: I love walking around CUA. It has an atmosphere about it that is so academic and solid, if that makes sense. I almost rented an apartment near the Basilica when I first moved to D.C., but opted for something on 14th and S near DuPont Circle instead. And speaking of DuPont, love your graffiti on the sidewalk! Thanks for sharing!

The Artful Eye said...

As you can see I'm catching up from a hectic week.

I'm torn with graffiti, I like it and then I realize what it represents and I'm disgusted and also when they tag private property.

Very interesting post.

D.C. Confidential said...

AE: Graffiti is definitely a controversial subject. Today is monthly theme day for the folks who participate as daily photo bloggers (e.g. Fenix, Dusty Lens, et. al.) and this month's theme is Murals, Graffiti, and Tagging.

I enjoy murals, some graffiti is marginally acceptable, but tagging outright ticks me off. I hear you when you say graffiti initially intrigues you and then makes you angry. It evokes similar emotion for me and many others, I think.