Tuesday, August 18, 2009


On the easier than it looks Troll poll, one of the questions was, have you ever written graffiti?

My answer is yes and no. You see I love sidewalk chalk! It's just so Mary Poppins you know?
Remember when Mary and Burt the chimney sweep "pop" through a chalk drawing and the movie combines animation with real actors? That was the first time I can remember seeing that mix and I was young enough to have been enthralled.

Later in life, when in Europe, I walked through an arty district where artists were recreating classics from Botticelli, Raphael, Michaelangelo and even a few dark and broody Caravaggios with sidewalk chalk in the square. The art was stunning. Obviously they were dependent on donations from the tourists for their days work. Imagine having 'Graffiti Artist' as you regular job? I certainly made a donation but I thought at the time if I had artistic talent enough to recreate a Botticelli in sidewalk chalk .... why not a more permanent and mobile medium? I think money is the answer, lots of tourists were as impressed as I. Once the chalk image stopped being a crowd pleaser, an artist would just dip her bucket in the fountain and those incredible images vanished! Soon as that patch of sidewalk dried a new "graffiti" was begun. I might also add the speed of acomplishing a recognizable image was quite impressive. I could have happily gone there every day and never have gotten bored. A part of me even yearned for that er, vocation.

We all know there have been many "graffiti" themed art shows and sales which gets me to this curious point. Is it actually graffiti if it is mobile or you can wash it away with the hose?

Certainly when Mermaid was still at the Pond we often indulged ouselves by using our tennis court as the location of choice for some very large scale sidewalk chalk art. I always wanted us to do a huge scaley dragon that spanned end to end of the court but we never got to it. This was a pretty daunting ambition because you have to do it in one shot because chalk is temporary. Even a good morning dew can erase your art. And a tennis court is a HUGE canvas for just two people to cover. We once spoke of having a dragon party that never came to be. I just had marvelous visions of giggleing little girls all working on various dragon parts and then a great photograph at the end of all the girls with their dragon....followed by the girls playing in the sprinkler in bathing suits to "clean" the tennis court. Sigh.

I do get my sidewalk chalks out often and to tell the truth I often give them to children as gifts. They are such a great incentive for nurturing the child within us at all ages. I sometimes chalk a fishy in front of our mailbox or up at the back drive because our place can be hard to find. I'd rather do a chalk drawing than put a stick in the ground with balloons attached. ( Although I have done that too in the years Mermaid pleaded for me to be like the other Moms) And also because you cannot see chalk drawings after dark.

So now I am wondering. Is sidewak chalk drawings or commentary "graffiti" ?
And my other curiosity is this,
What would you graffiti?

when you answer this please remember this is a family rated pond!


Kymical Reactions said...

Fishy, I don't think that Sidewalk Chalk can be classified as graffiti - for the reasons that you mentioned. It's easily removed with a light rain or a bucket of water. To me, graffiti is the intentional placement of "art" on something that isn't owned by the person doing it. The sides of box car trains, buildings, under bridges, etc...

I agree that sidewalk chalk can be/is a work of art that is not as appreciated as it should be.

Kymical Reactions said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenny said...

I agree, I don't see chalk art as graffiti. It washes away and that's the difference. I have a large concrete patio in my backyard and I keep a bucket of chalk in my kitchen for when guests come over with (or without) small children. Over the years, we've spent many fun evenings, sitting as a group creating maps, little towns and more. I typically draw Saturn and the other planets, not sure why.

It's nothing close to the VANDALISM created by some graffiti artists. I actually have no problem with true artists using old buildings/etc for their work. BUT we've had acid "painted" on our windows at my office and that's when I'd love to.... oh, you said it was a family blog. ;-) I'll stop there.

Anonymous said...

Kym, Boxer,
Well then, I guess my answer to the graffiti question is
"NO". I think there is a lot of graffiti out there which can only be categorized as vile stuff and definitely, as Boxer mentioned, vandalism. On the other hand, I have seen some graffiti which I found to have merit as art and thought what a shame it is the spray can "artist" couldn't find a sheet of plywood or a refrigerator box, etc. All that talent headed to jail!


fishy said...

I can tell you fine ladies have not spent years living with Blowfish. He definitely calls our sidewalk chalk creations "tennis court graffiti". He has not gone so far as to call me a vandal, but that might be coming soon.

Some of the current news headlines are really tempting me to indulge in some public graffiti. So if I were to create graffiti it would definitely include an ASS.

On the other hand, if I looked up the statistic on public ( taxpayer) funds spent annually cleaning up after the graffiti gangs ... I could have a serious change of mind.

Jenny said...

"anonymous" (rotty?) there's an art center in Seattle that actually supplies cardboard to "legitimate" graffiti artists for that very reason. Mostly, because there were people interested in buying it. However, real artists don't ruin public property. Vandels have a different mind set.

Your Blowfish should get out there with some chalk and maybe he would discover the pure joy playing? No?

fishy said...

The craziest thing of all?
BLOWFISH is a former executive art director or numerous prestigious publications AND a retired educator from one of the top 3 Art colleges
in America !!!!

He loves our art, loves that we like to make art, doesn't love it all over the tennis court! Sheeesssshhhh

Jenny said...


Does Blowfish drink? Can I suggest a cold vodka and a handful of chalk?

pam said...

Sidewalk chalk is fabulous. That guy who does the 3D sidewalk art is just amazing. I don't know how permanent his creations are either.

I have graffiti-d. Once. I admit it. Loved doing it. wouldn't do it again.

Gang graffiti is another whole kettle of fish. Scary.

fishy said...

So glad to learn you and the others appreciate the joys of sidewalk chalk :-)
I actually had a chat with a non-blogging friend on this subject. She thinks if you do your sidewalk chalk on the property of another is IS graffit, albeit temporary. Her position is the owner of the property must involve their time and labor, or their wallet to remove the images.

As for me, I'm a bore, no graffiti experiences in my personal history!

h said...

Unexplored pyramid or tomb or something that Archeologists are working on. I'd sneak in there and draw pictures of space-ships and aliens with laser-guns.


The Head Alien would look like Obama in the "Hope" poster.

fishy said...

Troll mischief is afoot! I kinda don;t think you are the type to actually deface an archaeological site.

I, on the other hand, would love to drive around a curve and find myself looking at giant K9 art on the side of a barn.

chickory said...

a conscientious graffiti. ive loved those sidewalk drawings that are 3D have you seen those?

the best sidewalk chalk EVER is Prang "Freart" it is very vibrant and rich. ive done many chalk illustrations in public spaces. i tend to do spot illustrations -not big involved images. i do like a bird with a branch of greenery or a bouquet or a longhrn bull - and on the smaller side.

i find that suede gloves are ideal for blending and having a stiff paintbrush on hand is ideal for pushing the pigment into the sidewalk so its not so much laying on the surface.

your dragon idea sounds cool. its not too late! shall we all come over and cover your tennis court?

chickory said...

oh to troll: did you hear about those boy scouts who scrubbed clean some graffiti in a cave only to horrify some archeologists - the drawings were along the lines of the ones at lascaux. grrrrrrrherhahahaha!!

fishy said...

Chickory! Such a good idea .We will have the tennis court dragon party for adults! Boxer sorta hinted this would be a fun activity especially combined with adult beverages. I'll send Blowfish to visit relatives.

Where do you get those Prang chalks? Color depth sounds very interesting to me. And YES, I have seen the 3-D chalk artists and not only are their images impressive the SPEED at which they create them also amazes. I think they must have those Prang chalks cause I just do not think they could achieve that depth in pastels only,

Horrors ! for the Boy Scouts who eliminated history instead of graffiti. The stuff of nightmares. Or maybe a party for Trolls?