Happy 2012! This past year, I’ve taken this little blog with me around the world, leaving my Berkeley home and venturing to Barcelona, my city of birth St. Petersburg and a few other destinations in between. It has been a true pleasure seeing so much art and creative energy on the street and meeting some of the people behind it. If you’re curious, here are the top 5 most popular posts of 2011. Picking my favorite artworks would be too difficult, but it’s interesting to see what people have been drawn to nonetheless. I’m going harder in 2012, just you wait.
Kashink at Sauvons La Jarry, Paris
3. Bronik at FemGraff, Barcelona
Vigilante Vigilante, Berkeley
1. JCHM, Barcelona
Ever see things like this?
Works of art, like this one by Gats, get covered in silver spray paint sooner or later around these parts. Well, it turns out that many local instances of art destruction were perpetrated by one individual, a vigilante named Jim Sharp a.k.a. “The Silver Buff”, who has taken it upon himself to clean up “vandalism” by vandalizing public art that’s not legitimately recognized.
A battle between the likes of Sharp and local graffiti artists/taggers has raged on for decades, rendering Berkeley covered in silver spray paint that is arguably more offensive-looking than the original stickers and tags it was meant to destroy. Filmmakers Max Good and Nathan Wollman tracked down Sharp’s identity last year and are currently working on a documentary film about Sharp and others like him called “Vigilante Vigilante: The Battle for Expression.” While the Berkeley police don’t seem to mind graffiti very much, citizens like Sharp contend that it encourages crime. The broken windows theory (that vandalized urban environments give the appearance of lawlessness and breed more serious crimes) is compelling, but I have a hunch that crime is a symptom of greater social problems like poverty and lack of social services. Of course, it’s much easier to buff a veneer with silver paint than it is to reach deep to the root of the social problems underneath. I leave you with this to ponder: