Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Break free the chains

As anyone in the vicinity of Madison knows, it's damn frigid out these days and thus difficult to motivate myself to get out and find/snap pictures of street art. But it's still out there, covered in snow and ice, adding a splash of color to the otherwise dreary landscape.

This one was found on Broom St., just off State, and sent in by tipster D. Taken literally, it just makes me think about how very few inmates are actually made to wear the stripes anymore. Taken figuratively, it's a valid message about being your own person, free of constraints (or marriage, depending on how symbolic you want to get with this one). Hooray!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The only leafs left are painted on

This photo of a stencil downtown was taken on Dec. 6, after the first dusting of snow fell on Madison this year. Currently, we're in the middle of a much larger storm--something like 6-12 inches coming down around us. This can make it difficult to get out and find other bits of street art, but we'll keep looking!

Appreciate this small reminder of more temperate times until spring rolls around.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Projecting the vote

Originally uploaded by brmaniaci
It's election day in the good ol' US of A, and that means the rash of political tagging, graffiti (in the form of stickers and signs), and even projected images is coming to full head.

The above photo is of a large projection being done on the side of a University of Wisconsin-Madison building last night. This sort of thing isn't just being done on behalf of political campaigns, though. Projections, which don't physically damage property and aren't permanent, are becoming an ever-more popular way of showing art and getting messages out to a wider audience.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My heart will never bleed...

The ever-observant Olive Talique has snapped us a photo of this fresh bike path stencil. While I agree with her that the "Up with bikes! Down with pants!" is definitely a favorite, this one, though slightly more cynical, is definitely up there.

This reminds me of a very recent article in the Capital Times called "Pedestrians and drivers: mortal enemies" - an interesting look at the interactions between drivers, walkers, and bikers in the city. The comments section is its own world of fascinating argument over who's more at fault.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Police fishing and some art from elsewhere

A helpful tipster has informed me that the MPD are conducting a bit of an investigation into some recent graffiti - no word yet on the specifics, but the "Investigative Services Department of the Dane County Sheriff's Office, who are assisting the Madison PD" are attempting to question people with some history of graffiti work.

Now might be a good time to bone up on how to effectively deal with the po', as it were. Keep a cool head, and be aware.

On a nearly completely unrelated note, I am compelled to post this video of a recent Banksy installation in New York City. I know, I know, it's not Madison or even close, but it's still really cool art, and I don't currently have any good Madison-area photos to share. So sue me, I'm working on it!

NOTCOT: Banksy's Village Petstore & Charcoal Grill from Jean Aw on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Some color with your dirty clothes

This lovely photo comes courtesy of Mando Photography, and was taken of a laundromat on S. Park St. here in Madison. Now this is what I call good use of commercial wall space. Anyone know who the artist is?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Stuck and tagged

Sender-inner Michael alerts us to the presence of this presumably stuck truck in a small alleyway near King of Falafel in downtown Madison. I've passed this very truck myself, and kicked myself for not taking a picture of it. Michael offers us this cell phone cam glimpse of the extremely tagged back-end. I might go by and get another, clearer shot of it, too. Certainly adds an interesting splash of color to the neighborhood.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Onion is watching you

Apparently, picking up a free copy of the Onion on the square is a dangerous, well-watched proposition. The people are rebelling, however, by claiming Isthmus as their own.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mifflin St. Co-ops legacy

Ah, the Mifflin St. Co-op. The neighborhood no longer willing and/or able to sustain it as a business, it closed its doors a couple of years ago. The spectacular mural on its Mifflin-facing wall, however, remains relatively unchanged, and I hope it stays that way.

For a great, comprehensive history of the Mifflin St. Co-op, check out Waxing American's post on the subject.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The one day wall

I'm somewhat surprised that I totally failed to catch this when it happened ("somewhat" because I was rather engrossed in my own project around that time), but I've just received an email from tipster Q about a really cool graffiti wall project that happened over at Brittingham Park back in July. Photos from the event are now available for your viewing pleasure here.

Sadly, the wall was only up for 11 hours, and though by its very nature street art tends toward the transitory, that's really a shame in this case. Still, I'm happy to read about the organizer of the event, Kimberely Coonts, who was also apparently behind the graffiti wall that used to go up during WSUM's Party in the Park. People like her do a great service for our community, and we should all do our best to support their efforts.

Check out the article about the event here.

Worth special note in the piece is this bit:
The problem arises when [graffiti] is without permission and has defaced businesses," she said. "There are a number of small businesses that are running on a very tight margin as is, and when they have to stop what they're doing to go out and undo the damage that somebody randomly inflicted on them, it's detrimental to the business owner and it doesn't reflect well on the neighborhood."

Thurber added that there is a city ordinance that forces business owners to remove graffiti in a timely fashion, or they can be issued a citation on top of the cost of removing the graffiti.

I've heard about that ordinance before, and honestly it strikes me as a silly and potential harmful way of dealing with the problem of tagging. Forcing the business owners--the "victims" in the case--to pony up money (this in addition to any cleaning costs) should they take a bit too long in cleaning it, seems ridiculous. And it can't help foster much in the way of a potential positive relationship between businesses and more legitimate street artists. Isn't there another way to deal with this? I mean, I'm not fan of tagging, and hardly consider it "art" on par with the type of stuff I post here, but this doesn't seem like the right solution. What do you think?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Laser beams! From its eyes!

Sender-inner Jesse spotted this lovely piece near the dumpsters by Amy's Cafe and emailed it to yours truly via some sort of fancy cellular technology. The kids and their gadgets these days--I can't keep up! But street art, ah yes, that still makes sense to me.

I mean, who can't get behind a wolf shooting friggen laser beams from its eyes?! That little symbol indicates that this may be another piece from our good street art friend, USB.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I'm not annoyed by this piece, spotted and photographed by Ann:
If Annoyed When Here...

Sort of a combination stencil and sticker or paste-up, I think.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Life I love you all is groovy

Another couple of submissions from David D. (thanks!) here - some interesting stencils. This first one is apparently on the Murray St. underpass, and the second is somewhere in the Langdon St. area. I'm not sure who the guy in the second one is, though, so if you recognize him as some celebrity I ought to know, please holler. And as for "Life I love you all is groovy" - I have no idea, but I tend to agree.
That's not Hunter S. Thompson, is it?

As a side note, I'd like to recommend that you click this link and head on over to the Wooster Collective to check out some really amazing, epic-scale street art from Greece. I want to see stuff like this in Madison!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I pity the fool

Nicole P. sends in this positively fierce submission, showcasing the always imposing form of Mr. T on what looks to be the side of a utility box of some sort (on Midvale Blvd). We're pretty sure this particular one has since been scraped off, but others have been sighted around town. Long live Mr. T!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Blackouts coming? Don't fret!

Two good ones today, and I think they make a nice point/counter point:
True or not, the happy tree would like you to think positively about the coming eco-apocalypse!
Or maybe it just hasn't realized what its own fate would be in such a scenario. Uplifting! Thanks to Dave D. and Emily S. for sending these in. The first can be found in the Langdon St. area and the tree is somewhere on Donna Dr. in Middleton.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

You are being watched

Downtown on the capitol square: two free, local newspaper stands and two, I can only assume local and free to look at stickers. Interesting choice of placement for the CCTV one--I can only hope that the Onion doesn't make a habit of tracking my movements. But then, the commentary that accompanied the surveillance might almost make it worth it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lightpost logo

I've seen this symbol pasted (or is it a sticker?) up in a few places around town, but this is definitely the most prominent. Located on the light post out front of Cafe Montmartre, I'm pretty sure it's some kind of old Mac system icon, but I can't remember exactly what it stands for. Whatever the case, there's something weirdly aesthetically appealing about it.

UPDATE: Thanks to an astute commenter, I've been schooled in the fact that this is the USB symbol (I really should have known that), and that it's one of the favored designs of this local artist.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Viva la bukkit

This sticker, I'm told, isn't unique to Madison, but it was one of the few interesting pieces I saw on my stroll down State Street the other night, so I'm posting it anyway. If you're unfamiliar with the particular internet meme from which this sticker draws its inspiration, 1) you're clearly not as huge a nerd as me and 2) you can find out about it here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I sing a song of State Street

Yesterday evening, finding myself without other plans, I decided to sling the ol' camera over my shoulder and take a stroll down our city's venerable pedestrian thoroughfare: State Street. Even without the students back in full force, which they most certainly are now, it's a place where you're pretty much guaranteed to see something of interest, and tonight did not disappoint.

I started at the top and found myself among a sea of people enjoying the free "Jazz at Five" concert series featuring the fantastic Jon Hendricks (and you if you don't know who that is, you owe it to yourself to follow that link and find out). Then, in perfect contrast, I discovered a group of SCA folk sword fighting down on the other end at Library Mall. Seriously, it doesn't get a lot more State Street than that.

I have to say, though, that the place is looking more and more scrubbed clean these days. I did manage to find a few lone examples of street art amongst the shiny new concrete and metal being installed. The cool rat stencil (below) graced a construction sign along where State meets Lake, but who knows how long that will last.

I'm a little bummed by how clean and pretty the city has been working to make the street appear. Granted, I've only been here since 2000 and the area has a much longer and more storied history than I've been witness to. Still, even I remember a more crunchy, colorful, oddball State Street. Things have changed a lot in recent years, and I'm not entirely sure I like the direction they're going in. I'm hoping that the lack of street art in the area, though, will be short-lived as the construction projects finish and students filter back in for the semester. In the meantime, the rat keeps watch.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hello, kitty!

Yellow Cat
Originally uploaded by artnotnuisance
Ann submitted this little number, and I have to say, I really dig it. Poor little yellow cat--what's he so upset about? There's a lot going on in the world to make a person, or a hand-colored paste-up, feel pretty blue (or yellow, in this case).

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The businessmen march toward glory

Originally uploaded by Kikos Dad
I'm not sure if this stencil is still there, but for a long time it graced the outside of Isthmus HQ in downtown Madison. This picture was taken back in March of this year by Scott M. (thanks for the submission!), and I do believe he's correct in thinking that the balloon was added later.

This is one of my favorite pieces that I've seen in town. Somehow both playful and serious, it's simple but effective.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The weekender: community mosaics

A hot tip sent me traveling up to the north side of the city this afternoon to check out the Troy Community Gardens, a sprawling, beautiful example of urban agriculture. There were dozens of plots filled with vegetables, a few chickens, some interesting structures, and all sorts of other good stuff.

There were also--and this is how this is relevant to this blog--several examples of mosaic work, both on posts and tiles decorating one edge of the garden. I'm not entirely sure who created the work, but it adds some lovely, somewhat whimsical color to the setting (which is, to be fair, already quite colorful on its own). I'm honestly a little ashamed to say I'd never been to the gardens before, especially since they've apparently been there for a couple of decades now. There seem to be some public trails that wind through the area, so it's definitely worth a short hike and looksee if you happen to find yourself in the area.

Two of my favorite things in one place: community, urban agriculture and cool art.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Obey! Consume!

Angela Richardson took this shot of a couple of small stencils outside of the Infoshop on Williamson St. about three years ago. I haven't seen many of the "Obey" stencils lately, so that time line makes sense.

Begun back in the long dark past of 1986, the "Andre the Giant Has A Posse" street art campaign as since evolved into what you see above. It's an interesting study in how underground messages spread, and it's definitely worth clicking that link to read more about. Andre's mug, in the form of the "Obey Giant", can be found all around the world even to this day. That's one long-lasting stencil/sticker campaign.

Worth noting, too, is the jolly little Santa Claus urging us all to "Consume", which I think is a nice accompaniment for the Obey stencil. Certainly "obey" and "consume" are two directives we all get behind every day, right?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Moose head stencil

[Moose head]
Originally uploaded by david drexler
David Drexler sends us this photo of an excellent, four-color stencil piece in the Mansion Hill area of Madison. Bigger, more complicated stencils like this one don't seem to be terribly common in this city, so it's cool to see one like it. Anyone know anything more about it?

Be sure to check out the rest of David's collection of street art photos at his Flickr stream.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Solve Lives

Solve Lives

This really well-done piece is currently up on the Mother Fools graffiti wall on Williamson St. Created by Ben Bauman in tribute to fellow artist Brendan "Solve" Scanlon (who was recently killed in Chicago), you can read more about it over at The Daily Page.

I'm a big fan of the graffiti wall, and wish more businesses would offer such a space to local artists. I realize it's also difficult to get permission from the city to do it, and I'd love to see that change as well. Not only does it give artists a legal palette on which to do their thing, but it also, in my opinion, helps beautify neighborhoods. I'd much rather see something colorful like this than a plain brick wall. I know lots of cities around the world have projects like this, but I think Madison could use a few more.

UPDATED TO ADD: Solve's Flickr stream.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Support your local artists

Support Local Artists

I figure a mural is a good way to kick off this blog all proper-like, especially one with a message like this. Gracing the side of the building housing Tranquil Tattoos (1900 E Washington Ave.) and OK Beauty Supplies, it went up shortly after the tattoo folks moved in. I can only assume one or more of the artists that work there created it, though I took the photo when it was closed so couldn't ask. If you happen to know the names of the artists or any other info about the mural, please let me know in the comments section.

UPDATE: The artist responsible for this fine work of art is Zach Bartel. Check out his website here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Well hello there

Welcome to the Madison Street Art blog! We're just getting set up, but please stop back again soon! We promise to get things rolling in just a few days here, and if you should have any photos of or tips about interesting street art in and around the Madison, Wisconsin area, please give us a shout about it at madstreetart@gmail.com.

Thanks, and keep looking!