Tag Archives: graffiti

Urban Scrawl


I stumbled across Barry McGee and Josh Lazcano’s commissioned piece of graffiti on the corner of Houston Street and Bowery (left picture) perhaps in late October and immediately snapped a shot of the eye-catching site. What looks like a fascinating jumble of tags is actually a sort of “the ultimate graffiti writer’s roll call.”

Then, just this morning, I happened upon Niels Shoe Meulman of Calligraffiti‘s collaboration with Mercedes-Benz and Pink Ribbon. Meulman was asked to “customize a white Mercedes B-Class with hundreds of women’s names. These names symbolize all the Dutch women for whom the Pink Ribbon foundation works tirelessly.” (watch a video of the process here)

I find these two (that I’ve seen so far) instances of jumbled word graffiti bearing others names an interesting coincidence. Perhaps additionally more so, now that I think about it, that both are in shades of red and pink, evoking colors of a rose, and thereby maybe, possibly hinting somehow at the eternal question, posed by Shakespeare:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

In our computer-age where things are so frequently typed, does seeing your name in a hand-created form hold a certain type of potency? Does it make you more real? Especially when it’s someone else who’s writing it. If someone else is calling you out, writing you down, you can be sure you exist. Can’t you?

Maybe I’m just making up stories.

But. There are certainly a whole lot more wordy, declarative, questioning types of graffiti tumbled about lately. Like these two:

Interesting, isn’t it?

A little bit softer now


Dumpling dears, would any of you care to hazard a guess as to what those little off-white rectangles are? (this is my college apartment, affectionately dubbed The Pomegranate Estate)((and if you know what belongs between those little thumbtacks, consider yourself really special)). Not sure? Think we were crazy? Here’s a little hint:

Now a little story (don’t worry, I am going somewhere with all of this): One day my roommate Bunny and I were eating breakfast, absentminded-ly switching between our barstools which looked out onto this window (it used to have panes)((that was another hint)), and the futon couch that sat directly below these windows and looked onto the kitchen, which is just to the left of the first picture, while we ate and chatted away. It was a lovely weekend day, and the sun was shining through the windows onto the wall. It made a very pretty little pattern. And one of us though aloud, “Wouldn’t it be neat to paint the shadows on the wall?” And of course, the other piped up something along the lines of a gleeful, “I was JUST thinking that same thing!” (did any one you guess it?!). Since we were both so clearly on the same page, we jumped right up, grabbed some paint and a paintbrush from our brush cup on counter and both went at capturing the sun before it went away. (This sort of little agreement is how we got into most of our shenaniganry.) We then signed it and marked it with the date. Most people could usually make the connection about what those marks were back when we had the multiple windowpanes. They’d look at the marks weirdly, then at us like we were crazy, then at the windows and back again to the wall. Oh. Ohh! And it dawned on them. I was reminded of this when I saw:

You look at this and think, oh what a pretty shadow!

Goodness, whatever is outside must be very pretty.

And maybe if you got real close to it you’d realize: it’s paint! Oui, these are all paintings by artist Mary Temple, who I spotted on The Jealous Curator last week (or so). I just love the hint of outside. The softness of the paint. It’s beautiful and quiet. And yet, fuels your imagination and creates “light” even if there are no windows.

Quiet, you see, is important. Because this morning my building’s superintendent woke my roommate and I up bright and early banging on our door and yelling about how there was too much noise last night. Which would be pretty much impossible, as it happens that the only thing that was moved around was paper. I could go on for a long (long long long) time about a lack of quiet that is not produced by any one in this apartment but you don’t want to hear me rattle on about that, and neither does my super, because he walked away. And we just stood there in silence, baffled, and nowhere near awake enough to fully comprehend what had just happened. I stumbled back into my room but could not fall asleep so busy was my mind thinking about the intricacies of quiet. Of maybe having to walk around on fluffy little cumulus clouds. Oh heavens and oh hell.

And then! Oh and then! Right when I was feeling grumpy and distraught, I realized I’d wound up on the front page of wordpress. And very suddenly my door was being banged on again (metaphorically, that is), but instead of a grouchy super (who really is usually very helpful and nice) it was all of you! Goodness, you cats and kittens just rained on in on me. And I was in my pajamas and had my hair in pigtails and kept finding myself very startled to find myself being paid so much attention. I mean, you always want attention and all, but it tends to happen when you’re not expecting it. Like when you’re donning pig-tails, like a 5-year old. Oh my. You start to feel, for a second, that maybe people can actually see through the computer into your room. It’s cool though, I like you all, you can stick around. You’re sunshine. You’re reverse (or environmental) graffiti:

Have you heard of it?

It’s “graffiti” made from cleaning.

These three pictures are from an installation done by Paul “Moose” Curtis, who originated reverse graffiti, on an overpass in San Francisco.

Beautiful isn’t it? And it kind of reminds me of Mary Temple’s work in it’s softness. I had actually never consciously noticed it before yesterday when I was perusing around for the paint chip post. Connecting these two, made me think about white tattoos on pale skin. How it can look barely there and delicate. But I have yet to find any pictures of ones I really like to show, and I hear they’re kind of risky.

So, yes, after yesterdays Bright and Colorful post, and my busy kooky what-the day, I’ve opted for a moment of hush hush prettyness. But, you know, I think this look could be done nicely with color, too, when you use two colors that are fairly close together only a few shades lighter or darker. Create a subtle design. Hmm. Or an “intricate subtle” using a few colors that are close enough together to be subtle but can be differentiated enough to render a little pattern. Maybe possibly. I’d experiment and show, but I’m tired. Some other time perhaps, we’ll play.

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Hitting pause


Ladies and gentlemen(!) it’s that time of year again:

The holiday season

Are you feeling the warm fuzzies? Are you letting out a groan of dread? Some combination of the two?

It seems to be a season that’s all about reminding you of the haves and the have nots; and I’m not (just) talking about social status. It’s the time of year when you really feel it: the effects of the people in or not in our lives; how much money we do or do not have; how life is in relation to where we thought we would be by this point. It can be a very material time of year. People stay up all night to go shopping. People go crazzzzzzy over the latest deals. We’re obsessed with giving and we’re obsessed with getting. Love sometimes being deemed in how much money was spent (or appeared to have been spent) on a gift. How much do you love me, with dollar signs ($$) glinting in our eyes.

I was thinking about this as I dragged myself out of bed at 5am to go to work, having been assigned the arrival time of the bright and early 6:45am (to a night owl like myself). Good golly miss molly(!), I thought, having just watched the CNN Heroes presentation with my parents Thanksgiving evening. I was in awe of the amazing work these people do, selflessly, to better the lives of others and for a while I pondered and raged about what kind of society are we that we will so eagerly camp out for hours in the cold to score a deal on a new TV/sweater/blah blah blah, but we’re so reticent to help others. To really dive in and contribute to truly bettering others lives.

I stewed and stewed about this as I power walked to the train pressing against the cold whipping wind of the morning, damning us all for making me wake up so early because of our greed. Then, of course, I remembered that one of the main things hearing from all of those amazing do-gooders did to me was make me feel ashamed for all of the times I complain about my life in terms of wishing things were different (*ahem* since I was probably more peeved about having to get up so early than our culture of rampant consumerism. Granted, I did think about how it would be nice if families who dragged themselves and sometimes their children out of bed to go shopping also took a day to drag themselves out of bed to do some volunteering. Wouldn’t that be nice?). Back from that I aside: we all do it (the kvetching about our lives thing); but, really, it could often be so much worse. Certainly my life isn’t perfect and I can attest that I’m not where I thought I would be on the eve of my 26th year of life. But. Oh but. The struggle has made me so much better. And I think this whole economic climate has, on the whole, been working to make us better, kinder, and more appreciative of the little things in life.

And going with less has been a surprising lesson to me as a former (thrift) shopaholic, and general lover-of-stuff; as a person who did, in fact, once go on a (admittedly somewhat exaggerated) rant on super practical gifts (like socks). It’s been really interesting. I don’t need as much, and I don’t want as much. I used to buy stuff just because I liked it and now I’ll pause and think about if I really need it. And I’m happy and in, in fact, thankful, if someone feels like getting me socks as a present. I need those socks probably more than I need jewelry (not that I wouldn’t or don’t like it, haha). It’s interesting learning to go with less. It’s not so bad. And I appreciate the little things, and the people in my life so much more. The past year or two have been rough, a shock to the system. But looking back, and in trying to look forward (since time doesn’t stop), all of the shenanigans (both man and situation made) have made me a better, stronger, more resilient person. I think when you have to stop and pause before you buy things you just might find yourself stopping and pausing before you do things and it helps you to better evaluate your life. I think we were all so used to just running, running, running (energizer bunnies beating on our drums!)…. but maybe now we’re allowing ourselves to pause. And realize what’s important. To think about not just where we are going, but who we are and who we want to be. To take a moment and actually be thankful for what we do have.

Because while money does make the world go ’round (all those charities need our money in addition to our time), so do love and hope and friends and family. Judging from some of these lovey-dovey messages popping up, I think others feel this way too. You know something is going on when graffiti is telling you to love more and hate less. A message that, though it might be as cheesy and schmaltzy as all get out, is a good one.

Alright, holiday-ish cheese fest over. Go have some wine.

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Faux City


My loves! It’s been such a long time, and I apologize profusely. Lady Tilly has found herself in a new (day) job, which has been taking up a good chunk of head space. I’ve been missing you kittens muchly though, and am hoping to get back into regular posting soon/now since I do have oodles of ideas and all of that delightful jazz.

In case you didn’t know, wandering NYC is one of my favorite hobbies, and I always have a camera around so I can snap pictures of interesting and surprising things as I go. What’s interesting is when you see some similar anomalies popping up at around the same time. We’re used to seeing it in fashion, accessories, and home design sorts of areas; but recently I noticed a little bit of a trend in the way we decorate our city. It’s really small, and maybe it’s been there all along, but for some reason I suddenly noticed this sort of “faux city” vibe as I like to call it.

It really rings true to the city and the people in it, in the personas we create for ourselves. In the way we are, the way we want to be seen, and the clash between the two

Some time ago I was walking along bopping along to my headphones when I saw this sight: I did a little double take and laughed when I noticed the fake brick and windows pressed up against the real brick building. It has this delightfully cartoon-y sort of look to it, all the lines perfectly straight and even, yet it’s perfection is not enough to escape the inevitable graffiti.

This one I saw right after the first, and I stood there for a minute scratching my head. I may’ve even pulled out my glasses to attempt a better look. Something just looks a little off. It looks like someone intentionally painted it to look old and run down – the opposite of the previous. It’s those two perfect windows that have me perplexed. I’m probably missing something obvious which someone will point out to me and I’ll feel very, very silly.

This one caught my eye while I scurried between interviews. I’m amused by the effort of attempting to cover up the scaffolding or whatever you want to call the black screen covering up the actual building, with a print of a similar sort of building….which is subsequently, err, kind of falling down.

This one would allow you to claim to have a great view of the city’s immaculate skyline even though you’re just looking at the side of a somewhat low building (in comparison to the supposed skyscraper scene). I do love the gardens implied on top of the skyscrapers, too. That would be lovely, wouldn’t it (granted, I’m sure there are some that do…)

Interesting, wouldn’t you say?

And this next one is similar but different.

I almost walked right past this one. Out of the corner of my eye it looked just like regular, run of the mill graffiti type situation. But, I looked a little closer and was delighted to see a depiction of a lovely farm-y country-side (Italy maybe?). On the side of a building, behind gates, next to trash cans.

The dreams of the places we wish we could be tucked to the side.

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