I’m surrounded by graffiti. There’s no escape. While I want to document it, I’m wary of praising it. This giant decal art work that appeared on the side of my neighborhood strip club, the Dancing Bare, caught my eye a couple of weeks back. It was slapped on the wall that faces the Trimet Max train tracks by an anonymous source. Most graffiti is created anonymously or it might be easier for those who create it to get in big trouble. It occurred to me that if people needed to deface buildings it might be appreciated a bit more if it were done in an artistic manner. This one screams art. The bearded dude is a painter holding a palette and brushes. Artist imitating art. It could very well be a deep statement pasted on the wall of a strip club.
When I consider the rest of the wall, I see an ad for Bud Light, bolder, letter type spray painted squiggles as well as some painted sections covering up past graffiti and I had to consider which image I could live with more because there’s no way a blank wall can exist for long in Portland without someone wanting to spray paint squiggles on it or display advertising.
I considered who the figure in the picture was. He resembled a pumped up Charlton Heston playing a combination of a Moses character who decided to retire after delivering the tablets and parting the sea to take up painting and then ended up looking more like Michelangelo. Anyone young enough to not have a feel for who Charlton Heston was, well there was a time when he had cool roles in movies like Omega Man and a couple of the old Planet of the Apes films. He shouldn’t be remembered solely as the crazy old coot who stumped for the N.R.A. talking about how we’ll have to pry the gun out of his cold dead hands before anyone messes with the 2nd amendment. Such a memory for that might also be murky. He’s been dead a while.
There’s an endless cycle of decorating and redecorating the neighborhood. Charlton Moses Michelangelo is already in the process of being peeled off the wall. This style of graffiti might be appealing (pun intended and unintended) compared to other forms but it may be harder to remove much less paint over. And really there should be no tolerance for graffiti of any kind. Regardless of the skill level or technique it’s still vandalism. Get there early to catch the first form of this constant flux.