Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Weekend Assignment #333: Writing On The Wall

"Is there life before death?"

-Unknown Graffiti Artist

Weekend Assignment #333: Writing on the Wall

I apologize for the blurry picture, but there is a good reason it is the way it it. You see, I had to capture this particular image while driving on HWY 13! If you don't live in the Bay Area, you probably don't realize how harrowing that can be. Hwy 13, aka the Warren Freeway runs along the hills between East Oakland and Berkeley. Hwy 13 becomes Ashby avenue, and if you don't make any turns at all, you will eventually find your way to the Berkeley Marina or that approximate general area. This particular story takes place at the HWY 13/HWY 24 junction, and while it wasn't the safest place that someone could have chosen to play out this drama, it sure brought me a lot of amusement as it unfolded. First came the above message. Within a week it had been removed by the whoever it is that cleans up graffiti, but a couple days after that, the gray cover paint had been replaced with the second message...

This message was again covered in gray paint, but the artist had one final message for those who would dare stifle his message...

I LOVED watching this bit of artistic drama play out! It's something I will never forget. I needed that original message, and the humor that followed. As it played out over those weeks, I found myself contemplating what the author meant, and who the author might be. To cover his uplifting message seemed almost wrong somehow, but art is subjective... right? And we humans so tend to pick and choose our evils! Case in point... In the days after 9/11 a large American flag mural was painted on a retaining wall which faces HWY 680 near San Jose. The retaining wall is owned by the State of California, therefore Caltrans eventually painted over it. Well, the ensuing public outcry was deafening. HOW DARE CALTRANS PAINT OVER THE FLAG! It's sacred after all! IT'S THE FLAG! Well, no, it was graffiti, but eventually the screamers got their way and the graffiti artist was allowed to put the their flag back.

Too bad the simple message of FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS had no value what so ever.

Maybe if there had been an American Flag to accompany it.

Who knows?

It seems to me that if the motorists along 680 really wanted a flag near that retaining wall, they could have removed the flag mural/graffiti, and installed an actual flag!

Strange the way people think.

In any case, I will always be grateful to the HWY 13 graffiti artist who tried to give the world a message of hope and did so with proper punctuation I might add!


If you haven't played this week's Weekend Assignment, there is still time. You can find out all about it by clicking here.


HWY 13

Governor Sorry About Flag Caltrans Painted Over (SF Gate)


Karen Funk Blocher said...

The part I like best is the adverbs used for emphasis. "Seriously," the person adds to reinforce the original message, followed by an annoyed "Fine," in smaller text to let us know it's not really fine at all.

Thanks for sharing this incident again. It really is rather wonderful.

brandi said...

Glad I stopped by today. This really did play out wonderfully. Thanks for sharing this graffitti with us.
Carol from Catitude

Jama said...

There's a law against graffiti here, anyone caught doing that will be punished by fine, jail term and cane. You might want to read about the recent graffiti done on our MRT by a Swiss national named Oliver Fricker. The first famous case involving foreigners was the American Michel Fay.