Joker graffiti in Batman 1989

By C.J. Bunce

American Graffiti.  Just two weeks ago the George Lucas classic coming of age film about high school graduates in 1962 came back for the first national release in movie theaters in decades (we discussed it here at borg.com).  In a series of interconnected vignettes Lucas gave us a snapshot of kids and cars and cruising culture, popular then and now.  American Graffiti wasn’t the original title, and, as the story goes, the film’s backers had no idea what the title meant, but it was better than Another Quiet Night in Modesto or other proposals so they just went with it.  No graffiti actually plays into the plot, and the viewer can conceive his or her own meaning to this now classic movie title.

Graffiti as pop art?  Actual graffiti in America, in many ways hasn’t changed a lot, and it doesn’t share the same feelings of nostalgia as the eponymous film.  A form of vandalism, its very nature is something covert, rebellious and illegal.  Spray paint is the medium and the canvas is anything and everything from highway overpasses to train cars to building walls.  The stealth required gives the creator a challenge–maybe even the adrenaline rush that fuels some that are behind it.  Over the years the costs to city governments to wash or sand or scrub off graffiti prompted many cities to work with local graffiti artists–designating projects and mural locations where local creators could show off their creativity.  It’s a constructive bridging of law and order and a radical form of expression.

Iowa State Fair 2013 butter cow

A freshly cleaned up butter cow at the 2013 Iowa State Fair.

Continue reading

Advertisements