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.


Nataraj Hauser said...

I agree. I love seeing otherwise blank walls painted like Mother Fools (and Tranquil Tattoo, New Orlean's Take-Out) does. Even if the artwork doesn't impress or interest me, I'd still rather see it than a blank wall. It would be great if more businesses would donate/lease/barter their blank walls in exchange for art. As an East-Sider(stereotyped) I am inclined to give my patronage to such businesses. Would a West-Sider(stereotyped) have similar sensibilities?

Emily said...

Hah, I suspect that a lot of West Siders (non-stereotyped) would appreciate this kind of public art. There are curmudgeons, unfortunately, on all sides of town who would oppose it, though.

W J said...

For pictures about Ben Bauman's progress in drawing this magnificent picture, see
< >.

Emily said...

Thanks for the link and photos, WJ! It really is a friggen spectacular painting.

W J said...

I agree with you, both emily and nataraj, completely.

I learned from SOLVE, and from his wonderful friends and colleagues since his death, quite a lot about Chicago's rules against street art. Rules that are brought to bear even when a wall owner does not object. Basically street art is prohibited there everywhere, on private and public spaces. The policy, from which Mayor Richard Daley and his cronies cannot be budged, is short-sighted, suppresses art more broadly, attempts to limit art to that found acceptable by a narrow-minded establishment favored by Daley and his political allies, is probably unconstitutional, and, fortunately, is generally ignored by street artists. At significant cost to the artists when Daley's cops and courts bring the hammer down.

Now one would think that Madison, a town where most of the people imagine themselves to be art-lovers, supporters of art, and progressive, would do all it could to encourage street art. But no, Madison is as bad as Daley's Chicago. No street art is allowed on public spaces. A private building owner who does not object to street art on the building is forced to remove it unless the owner has permission from the city!

The thinking in Madison's establishment is just like Chicago's: "We gotta' keep control of those artists or they might do something that upsets our (narrow-minded) sensibilities, provokes some thinking (a very dangerous thing), or, worst of all, provokes interest in upsetting our comfortable apple carts."

Fortunately, in Madison as in Chicago, the official policy to strangle street art and its practitioners is generally ignored by street artists.

Notwithstanding officialdom's continuing efforts to crush it, street art is finally beginning to thrive in Madison.

It's long past time for officialdom to not just back off but encourage street art.

Jon Hain said...

It was not difficult for us to get permission for the art wall on our building. Fairly straightforward process that allowed us to hear from neighbors about potential issues. If any business or property owner wants more info on the process with the city, give me a call.

Jon Hain
Mother Fool's

Emily said...

Jon - Thanks for chiming in. I'm glad to hear that it wasn't too much of a hassle to get permission. I guess we just need more business owners to be as groovy and motivated. :)