Thursday, July 22, 2010

Feeling Big

Street art fascinates me.
It can be spontaneous or planned, temporary or fairly permanent, exciting, relevant, conceptual, even aesthetically pleasing. I like all of that. I never thought of myself as a street artist, but recently my son and I collaborated on a concept that, if we hadn't done it, would have left me disappointed in myself for not stepping out of my usual boundaries and trying something new and daring.

Daring? Yes: we live in an Eichler (geometry in 3-D) in a very conservative town, and in a tidy neighborhood. Street art is not ever in the design conversation here. In fact, if those two words are mentioned at all they usually evoke a look of distaste along with irritated mentions of unwanted graffiti. While I respect the right to this sensibility of my townfolk and neighbors, I still cling to what I found exciting about living in New York and San Francisco and in the marina in Sausalito. I like visual stimulation. I like “different.”

The concept? The close up will give you the answer. If not, it doesn't matter. Suffice it to say, it's appropriate for living halfway between Stanford and Moffet Field, where billions of EEEs, engineers, and rocket scientists pass by. 

The execution? This was the fun part, though it was a half-day of work for both of us to complete. We let the process teach us as we went, and eventually evolved into a two-person machine. I've always said that doing art projects was the best part of raising kids, and this one had to be a highlight. In case it isn't obvious, we used stencils and spray paint, and followed a list of numbers in exact order.

The result? Maybe I shouldn't say this myself, but I really like the outcome. From a distance, it has a depth that surprises me. The depth is a result of the different layers of spray. Looking at it close, one of the things that I like is how the overspray from one number to the next affects the numbers and bits of overspray around it. Some of the color combinations are delicious. And part of what I like is the juxtaposition of rigidity of the numbering and the looseness of how they are rendered. 

The future? I already have new concepts I want to try out and am asking friends if they would like some art on their doors or walls or fences. Producing art that is not so constraining as working with pixels feels liberating, sensual and dimensionally satisfying. Typography, calligraphy and numerals all fascinate me with their confluence of meaning and graphic-ness, and doing it big like this feels Big.

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