Hostile art in the park


Did ISIS get to the central gardener?

Does it look like a descendant of Diego Rivera got a commission to mural the recently restored underpass on Woodfield Avenue? I think so, but rather than doing a visual rant against the capitalistic machine, our Diego has created fierce, angry looking gardeners. Huh?

Well, the entrance is beside a local community garden, so that explains the gardeners, but why do they look so unpleasant? You knew it, dear reader. I am going to hazard a guess.

You can’t tame graffiti art. It is, at heart, a rebellious form of vandalism. It is hostile to property and to government and the law. It is outsider art, loud in colour, brash in jagged angularities and cartoonish exaggerations. Really, it is supposed to be done on the sly, not by hired hands.


Look what has happened to the butterfly. 🙂 Head chopped off like that of the unlucky gardener above.

Here’s the part I find amusing. Graffiti artists themselves seem confused. Do they want to be recognized? Of course, but by committees? Do they want to be paid and folded into the world of commerce? Some do, and others seem unsure. Do they leave the mercenary’s art up, unadorned with tag-overs? Do they give the commissioned artist his due, in the form of respected “street cred”?

I have been waiting for the answer and it is finally arriving. Authorized, well-meaning murals are being overpainted in the dark of night. The naive notion that graffiti artists will not deface another artist’s work has been dashed; as it had to be. Danica and I passed a local school mural project by the liquor store today. Completely obliterated. Too bad the new stuff wasn’t much better than the school stuff it defaced, but it was more spirited.

Personally, I don’t like most graffiti and tags seem to me to be the teenage equivalent of dogs leaving their scent. There are very few Banksys out there. But I think I understand why the figures on the tunnel reflect a certain rage. The artist is in an impossible bind, being paid by people who like butterfly images and ricky-ticky flowers. He (could be she, but likely he) has skill, is related to a hunted caste of outlaws and is performing for the enemy. That’s going to show in your work, don’t you think?

Update: The muralist is a he, Jabari Elliot, who goes by the nom d’art Elicser. His website is down at this time.

4 thoughts on “Hostile art in the park”

  1. Hmm. Those gardeners might be Mexican. If so, I would suspect a nasty batch of tortillas the night before. Maybe partnered with some tequila, eh! Resulting in an epic case of La Tourista the following day. With few porta potties in sight. It brings to mind that old Spanish saying: Sometimes a heuvo is just a heuvo.

  2. Or, the young male gardener might simply have the hots for the young female gardener but their love has been forbidden by her father, whose head is hidden in shame.

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