Friday, July 1, 2011


Painters that are taken as serious artists usually use canvas to do their painting on.  The classic painters works can be found in museums all over the world.  Occasional a masterpiece might be found on something other than canvas like the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo or The Last Supper by DaVinci.

Lesser known artists or current artists that are taken halfway serious also paint on canvas.  Still there is an occasional piece of art commissioned to be painted on a wall or the side of a building.  We have a few of those in the Kansas City area.  Even artists that aren't known at all can land a show in a gallery and sell some of their work in hopes of becoming better known.

Then you have the convention center art shows where anyone who paints on canvas can take their art and rent a booth and try to sell their work to the locals for a very little amount of money compared to the rest of the art world.

The art that I am interested in for this entry though are the anonymous artists.  Those artists whose work gets put down by the official art world as trash or graffiti. On trash bins throughout the city you can see these works of art.  On the sides of buildings or on sidewalks graffiti makes itself known to the public. 

And then there is the traveling art show that carries graffiti on rail road cars through out the country.  You can be sitting in your car on a sunny afternoon waiting for the freight train to pass and then there will be a string of cars with some of the most brilliant colors and shapes that isn't found in most other places.  True there is some distasteful graffiti there and some spray paintings that are no more than a doodling on a note pad.  Thinking about that though, there have been works of art that started as doodling as well.  John Lennon's drawings were all doodles and there was even a time when they tried to make John Elrichman's doodles from meetings with President Nixon as art.

But the graffiti I speak of on the trains I consider true art.  It is amazing to me how these artists are able to paint some of the most complicated things that always carry a message of some sort.  A message that does not include the artist name.

These works of art on the train cars must be carefully planned out.  It is either a case of detailed planning or the artists are artistic geniuses   They use spray paint as their medium.  The painting is done in layers with one paint over another until the work is complete.  The vision has to be well in mind before starting because you can't exactly repair a spray painting.

Not only are the works complicated and must have the vision well in mind before starting, it has to be started and finished quickly.  These artists do their work where there is security to keep them from creating their works of art.  Not only is security a problem but there is also the constant reminder that the car you are using as a canvas can start to leave on you at anytime.

These works of art that show up randomly around the city is more than vandalism.  Thankfully the railroads can't afford to repaint every car that has some graffiti art painted on it.  I can imagine a work of art traveling around the country for a year or more before it is erased from history.

Something inside of me say that the graffiti artist is more of a pure artist than the majority of artist creating work these days.  They do it for the love of it.  They do it for their own pleasure and in hopes of giving the vast audience that will see the work around the country a sense of pleasure upon seeing the art.  They don't sign their names to it, not that you could tell anyway.  They can't take credit for their work because they would be arrested for vandalism if they made themselves known.  That is sad I think.  To go through life creating and no one it is you that is doing the creating.  When I make my graphics on a computer at the office my name is put on every one that I do and it makes me feel good to know I am getting credit for creating that drawing or three dimensional model or a printed circuit board.  That is important to me.  A lot of me work, my art, will be in the system of the country for years and years to come.  The graffiti artist name will never be known.  it is done for the pure joy of creating art and sharing it with the world while they sit in cars waiting for trains to pass by.

That is a true artist.  That is an artist whose work should be placed somehow somewhere in a place of permanence.  It would thrill me if the railroads would stop erasing a graffiti artist work and let it live for a few decades to let our children and grandchildren appreciate this work of the true artist.

I want to give the graffiti artist a place to do his work and the safety to do it and put his name to it so we will know who these creative geniuses are.  I hope they continue painting the rail cars forever.  It is one of my favorite forms of art and deserves a place in the history of art.

1 comment:

  1. To me, the art of of the rail cars comes as you close your eyes and listen to the "music" that they play as they come from a distance.