DEAR PETER: Let's make NEO the world's aerosol art capital

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 12/28/2004 - 23:57.

There was an article posted on the Channel 3 website proclaiming "Graffiti becoming a big problem in Midtown".

One needs only to venture down back roads of the flats, or ride the Rapid Transit, or attend the local Aerosol Arts Festival to appreciate this region has some incredibly talented and expressive aerosol art (graffiti) creators. That they are expressing themselves in Cleveland's great corridor to the future - Midtown - seems to be the headline news today. As Channel 3 reports "The big fear is what businesses that might move to the area may think. The city could lose tax dollars; job opportunities and the schools could get less revenue." Wow, that's a heavy burden to hang around the necks of a few artists. Fact is, one drive down Euclid makes clear this is an area blighted not by aerosol artists but irresponsible property owners who for decades have neglected and abused what was once one of America's great boulevards - and this harm will take decades of redevelopment to erase, and that past splendor-destroyed can never be recaptured - now that is interesting news.

There seem some serious disconnects here - NEO leaders say they want to redevelop Cleveland yet they forgive and reward long-time owners of blighted properties, who created, operate and perpetuate slums and brownfields.

The same leaders say they want to nurture here a "creative class", and offer opportunity to all our disadvantaged people, yet they do not know and appreciate the value of local art or the artists developing in the inner-city. Aren't there smarter ways to go about uniting this community than arresting inner-city artists, while rewarding our slumlords?

I suggest NEO proactively pursue to become the world capital for aerosol art, and leverage young, grass-roots local talent to bring inspiring art, color and beauty to areas abandoned and destroyed through the neglect of generations of irresponsible property-owners. Going after these slumlords is a job for local government, and developing an aerosol art "industry" is a job for local arts enthusiasts, hopefully with the support of other community leaders who share a vision of a diverse, creative community united around freedom of expression, creativity, talent and rewards for excellence with that.

As Channel 3 reported, "Graffiti is a big city fact of life but this doesn't seem to be political or gang related. Whoever is doing this seems to be saying it's all about me" - in other words, the work of artists looking for creative outlets. How difficult is it to accept there are many forms of artistic expression and thus create outlets for all. If you haven't seen the beauty of the aerosol art around town, take a tour on the internet - there are many sites featuring such work here and around the world. If you don't think there is money in aerosol art, think again - our own Sherwin Williams well knows aerosol art is big money. Attending the Aerosol Art Festival drives home that these artists create a visual impact with spontaneous expressiveness that is perfect for adorning even mainstream commercial spaces and hipster downtown lofts, and offers quick, cost effective public art to enliven bleak blocks of abandoned Cleveland storefronts, and the long grey expanse of concrete lining the RTA - an ever-changing museum just waiting for a "May Show" exhibition. In fact, done right, renowned aerosol artists from around the world will come to the World Aerosol Art Capital to work and exhibit, and the world's arts tourists will come here to celebrate and buy the work- economic development at its best.

From the great Lou Muenz site that celebrates local aerosol art are comments from visitors worth thinking about - "great pics, congratulations. i'm a french teacher in Switzerland and looking for all possible photo material in order to use it for educational purposes, i.e. when talking about modern art... Could I download and use your pictures in my lessons?"... "good stuff good to see the flow keep it up <<< if you want to check out some of my work from australia or type brisky in the search"... "I have taken the red line rapid almost everyday during the summer while having a internship at Rockwell Automation. You can't help but notice the graffiti along the way home. A lot of people look at like it is a shame or something, all of the gangs, etc. But the way I look at it is, at least it is not on buildings, it is on blank dull cement! Who cares! At least it gives us loyal RTA riders something to look at while taking a long ride home. Plus, most of these people have never actually LOOKED at the drawings on there. Some of them are amazing! Lots of these kids have talent! But I guess I am the only one who thinks that there is a lot of good graffiti on those walls! Well, actually, ART. Most of the stuff is good! Thanx for having a photo gallery on this! Pretty cool! I am glad to see someone do that! Take Care! I mean hey, it adds a little something to the plain dull cement walls. I would rather look at some graffiti than plain boring walls which make you fall asleep. It makes the ride much more interesting!!!�… “I'm stoked somebody's taking flix of all the stuff that makes Clevo slightly sorta better than just a hum-drum Midwest burg"

Consider, as Channel 3 reported, "They have even painted on the top of locked vacant billboards" - and realize the problem is not the aerosol art but forever-ugly billboards, and an area of Cleveland so undesirable even ugly billboards are vacant. Know that as long as we are America's poverty capital graffiti isn't going away, struggling artists will express themselves in their poverty, and you can't lock up all the artists - realize it makes more sense to celebrate this art in a structured, sophisticated, economic development way, every day, in this the paint capital of the world. Concerned about nuisance graffiti? there will be none when aerosol artists have other more valuable outlets for their creativity.

Peter - any interest in helping create the Guggenheim of aerosol art, here in your old home-town? How about you folks who sell so much spray paint, at Sherwin Williams? Post your comments here.


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Aerosol Art Corridor

Norm, how did you find the Pbase site? and once there, how did you navigate  to the lou muenz photos? Do you know lou?   The guy has eye... I have a few ideas...

Today's header in larger format

In a neighborhood destroyed by poor planners over many generations, on the stark back side of the Baldwin water treatment plant, in a dead zone blighted by government, is an abandoned lumber company with a beautiful painting a city block long... the header of the day for June 21, 2008... view in larger format here.

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