iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
John M. Eger

John M. Eger

Posted: November 24, 2010 02:36 PM

Now that we are entering the age of creativity shouldn't our communities find more ways to encourage and foster public art?

Shouldn't governments let the average citizen have a larger say in what public art is?

And shouldn't all of us be doing what we can to allow our young in schools, and artists everywhere, express themselves and help legalize a revolution in Public Art?

I think so.

From the graffiti on the Berlin Wall separating East Germany from the West, to the writings on walls acknowledging democracy in Beijing -- often removed by government authorities -- people the world over have chosen in part to demonstrate some of their most poignant expressions, frustrations and thoughts by public displays of art, i.e., "Public Art."

Indeed, so called "Public Art" is the vehicle for people the world over to express themselves. It is also the vehicle that gives a community a sense of place and an identity. But is not the public, the people who usually have much choice in how, where and what "public" art actually is chosen for a community.

Now a revolution in "Public Art" is happening, starting with, yes, graffiti ( some would call it street art) popping up around the world.Some of it is legal, some not.

First there is JR.

Not the character from the TV series Dallas, but a 26-year-old Parisian photographer -- he does want us to know his real name -- who delights audiences everywhere putting what has been described as "a human face to the most impoverished areas of the world."

As Vivian Lee, writing for the World Policy Institute described it, in Kibera, Kenya, "Enormous black-and-white photos, printed on waterproof vinyl, hang from walls in the slums of Cité de la Forestière in Paris, top ramshackle roofs... spread across hillsides in one of Rio's favelas."

JR won a TED prize (for Technology, Entertainment, Design) of $100,000 recently for being an "exceptional artist". (BTW TED found JR who's real name is Jamie Oliver).

BANKSY, age about 36, and another artist not anxious to reveal his identity, is a British graffiti artist, political activist and painter. Banksy specializes in subversive graffiti, which sometimes goes on sale goes for $100, 000 or more. He also makes films and more recently, created at least 10 public works spread all around Park City, Utah to promote his Sundance Film entry last winter. Called Exit Through the Gift Shop, it was billed at "the world's first street art disaster movie".

More recently, The New York Times reported that "a newly formed collective of (mostly) former graffiti writers in their 20s and 30s... have embarked on an unusual citywide campaign to summon 50 or more of the most famous pieces of old-school graffiti out of the history books and back onto the streets."

Called "Subway Art History," the initiative is sort of a "real-life Wikipedia project" one of the artists told the Times. " We hope that the people who see the words help each other figure out what they're about, and that these things start a conversation that keeps going on the streets."

City government abhors all this so-called "street art" or "graffiti". The legality is called into question and it seems some people are outraged too. But, why?

The efforts of JR, Banksy and the "Subway" artists are examples of the frustration of people who wants to see change in the world, change in pubic perceptions or government attitudes and actions.

This is what artists everywhere have been doing for years.



 
 
 

Follow John M. Eger on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jeger62