Monday, March 23, 2015


I admit that I am a secret fan of graffiti.  Not the graffiti that defaces public buildings but the graffiti that is limited to venues that are no longer part of the public landscape.  There is no place for the defacement of public spaces.  That simply represents vandalism and destruction of property.  But some spaces have otherwise been abandoned, and there can be an unstated understanding that such spaces are acceptable for graffiti-ists to express their art without being destructive.  One such place is the Solvay coke plant on Milwaukee's south side, which has been abandoned for some 30 years and has served as an acceptable venue for graffiti for some time.  I paid another visit to the property last weekend.

Some graffiti can be appreciated for the specialized representational artistry that it can entail.  An example is the following recent graffito on the exterior of one of the Solvay buildings.

I know that the above graffito is saying something.  I'm just not sure what.  But I do know that this work, which might have been 15-20 feet across, took a good deal of flair for design--and planning--to pull off.

In other cases the design is a bit more abstract, as in the following that I liked for its combination of bright colors and for the "alligatoring" that the paint had undergone over time.

In yet others, the piece is even more abstract but may include a "tag," a stylized signature by the artist, as in the following photo.

Actually, I think this was a double tagging--one tag over another--which raises questions about respect or lack of respect by one artist toward another.

But on this visit what caught my eye was a translucent corrugated plastic window covering that had been painted from the exterior.  (Keep in mind that this place is a complete shambles.)  The sunlight coming through the plastic was bright, creating a nicely backlit scene.  It also meant that I could keep the ISO rating at a lower level than would have been available otherwise for a handheld shot.  Here are the shots that I got.

I liked these in part for the texture in the plastic visible upon close inspection.

Maybe this is just an example of the notion that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."  Or maybe not.


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