21 April 2010

Graffiti = The New Black

It's official: I've been tagged. I'm now a lover of street art. I've discovered that the artists-armed-with-spray-paint around these parts are not only talented but mighty prolific. When I moved here in November, I started noticing huge, colorful (and basically indecipherable) tags on the sides of random buildings as I zoomed past in various metro trains. At first I didn't really think anything of it - I just lumped it in with the stuff I'm used to seeing in the States (mostly just ugly crap defacing rocks or buildings in shady parts of town - no real genius there).

But... as I slowly (ever slowly!) work at peeling back the layers of this city (starting with the hard, shiny touristy exterior and working inward towards the unattainable-but-fun-to-aspire-to Chewy Tootsie Roll Center of "local knowledge"), I'm discovering ever more interesting spectacles. Case in point: graffiti as art.

There's a not-so-underground culture of street art here. Aside from the outlying suburbs, which boast an impressive and ever-evolving number of amazing, oft-hidden graffiti zones (basically any semi-flat building surface not facing a main street), the Melbourne CBD has designated some "legal" spots for graffiti-ing. I visited two of them today. Let me say right off the bat that I know the CBD's spots fall under more of the touristy side of things than on the cool local side, but I was lazy and didn't feel like tramming it all the way to Carlton or Collingwood. Maybe next time.

Long story short, after enduring the super-fun smells of piss and garbage, and getting heckled in Hosier Lane by a crazy woman who wanted me to help her dumpster-dive under the green snaggle-toothed monster (I wish I was kidding), I emerged with what may actually be some pretty decent shots. And anyway, I love the smell of spray paint in the morning.