Thursday, January 19, 2012

DIY Urbanism: Public Art (Graffiti and Murals)

By: Shelby Upton, Kyle Kurokawa, and Sara Hakanson

Do-it-yourself urbanism has become a way to leave ones own mark on society. Designers and artists have had to deal with the possibility of their work being altered by consumers and others who use the space. This has been done, not only in an artistic sense, but also in such a way that it has been classified as vandalism. To some, there is a fine line between “vandalism” (that which is not aesthetically pleasing) and “art”.

As we explored areas around the U-District, we discovered numerous examples of public art, or graffiti, that are examples of do-it-yourself urbanism. Whether in a park, on the wall of a business, or next to a busy road, open spaces everywhere have been covered with graffiti and murals of many styles and varying levels of artistic abilities. Each of these are examples of how individuals are taking the initiative to urbanize their surroundings and make them more interesting and beautiful.

Our first examples are taken from the outside walls of businesses. The Mac Store in the U-District (9th Ave. & 45th St.) has several images painted on its back wall, some of which have been altered with other graffiti. This makes the building more interesting and gives those who pass by something to admire. The next photo is a mural called “Larva Live” depicting a bug band (found on the south alley wall of the Trading Musician at NE Ravenna Blvd. and Roosevelt Way NE). This was painted in 2003 by local artist Scott Summers who has been painting murals professionally for more than 20 years[1].

The 4th and 5th photos were taken on the north side of the University Bridge in the U-District. These paintings have been changed and altered over time, but they have an organic, almost natural growing feeling which could represent the growth of a city, possibly into urbanization.

The next examples were taken at Cowen Park (5849 15th Ave. NE) and at “Tubs” (47th St. & 50th St.). The Cowen Park murals have been vandalized with graffiti but are still clear examples of do-it-yourself urbanism. “Tubs” is a business that was shut down in 2007 and the owners have decided to allow graffiti artists to cover the building. The owner has no plans to clean it up and enjoys allowing artists to express themselves[2].

Photo 1: 9th Ave. & 45th St., U-District, January 12th, 12:30pm, “Hidden Underneath”
Photo 2: 8th Ave. & 45th St., U-District, January 12th, 12:30pm, “Look Closer”
Photo 3: Ravenna Blvd. & Roosevelt Way NE, U-District, January 16th, 2:30pm, “Larva Live Bug Mural”
Photo 4: North side of University Bridge, January 10th, 2:00pm, “Nature’s Power”
Photo 5: North side of University Bridge, January 10th, 2:00pm, “A City’s Growth”
Photo 6: Cowen Park 5849 15th Ave. NE, January 16th, 1:45pm, “Colorful Abstract”
Photo 7: Tubs Roosevelt Way NE & 50th St., January 16th, 2:45pm, Side of building “Artist's Jungle”
Photo 8: Tubs Roosevelt Way NE & 50th St., January 16th, 2:45pm, Front of building “Artist's Jungle”




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