Tuesday, November 29, 2005

garden of earthly delights, pt. 2

while i was working on yesterday's entry, a bulletin came in from calendar girl:

If you thought the ground level graffiti was cool, you should see the second floor! tuna, tyler, and the gang really had a paint party there and you know what? not a drop, not a speck of spray paint on the kilgallen and mcgee murals. it was magnificent. there they were, the guerrilla and "commissioned" artwork standing side by side, ready to go down together, sacrificed by the institution that once sought to "legitimize" the genre.

whoa. i gave up this experience to see the colts trounce the steelers? ouch.

anyway, happily, today is another day, and i have now seen the second floor. c.g. rather nailed it, description- and meaning-wise, but it is a sight to see. the chief and i got some coffee at the museum and then took a stroll through the graffiti wonderland. almost every inch of wall space was covered with paintings, wheat-pasted paper works, etc. the small clusters of walls that i assume are part of the garage's support system formed perfect multi-paneled canvases, and each one had a different work on it. we walked in small circles to catch all the sides, while tracing a big circle around the garage to take everything in. one wall had an array of skulls on a black background with the call letters of radio stations past and present written on the foreheads. another, two-paneled spread had a blood-red background bearing the words "phoenix rising" next to a colorful rendering of what looked like a woman with wings. above the "phoenix rising" was scrawled "[someone] rest in peace." one papered tableaux looked like old-fashioned wallpaper, with a pattern of ornate oval frames that each contained an image -- the images seemed familiar, like old photographs from history books, "wild west" era stuff of native peoples being tortured, women hanged, and also portraits. i could've pondered that one for a while.

a totem-pole-like pillar of cartoonish faces peered out from the narrow space next to a doorway. shepard fairey's "obey" and "andre the giant" were present -- an homage? the art was very similar. one piece had andre in a star-shaped thought bubble above another character. some other works signed by "eder" were lurid orange and black -- a big bucket containing dregs of dried orange paint was nearby -- depicting soldier-like silhouettes. (it was hard to see all of these larger items b/c there are still so many cars parked in the garage. you could get a clearer view at night.)

the chief and i toured the ground level, too, passing a couple of young guys who were checking out the handiwork as well. down there i saw a name i'd forgotten last night: the seventh letter (which would be "g" -- not sure if it is supposed to be taken literally). wonder if that is a crew or a person. we came across the museum's official slogan -- "experience the world through art" -- stenciled below one of the larger king tut stencils. it had been altered slightly by one of the artists. gazing at it, i couldn't help wondering if the phantom editor actually was an editor, as the tiny little upside-down carat was so precisely placed between the "through" and the "art," with another word painted neatly just above the slogan: "experience the world through graffiti art."

there were so many paintings, so many tags, so much art, my brain was groaning with pleasure. one of these short walls was totally covered with signatures in blue and black. right this minute, for the next couple of days but no longer, this whole garage is a dazzling riot of controlled anarchy, a wonderfully colorful celebration of walls that had been taken for granted for so long, and will soon be forgotten. but not today.

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