Thursday, July 29, 2010


I admit it, I enjoy graffiti. And context is at least half the fun. Some of the most inspired work I've seen in the eternal city continues to be the unsanctioned/illegal street art to be found on buildings, walls, signs and benches (much more so than the sanctioned visual pollution known as advertising). And it's just the latest manifestation of a cultural practice going back thousands of years here.

Naturally, as a card-carrying preservationist, I don't espouse going so far as to tag ancient obelisks, but an argument can be made that a long line of pontiffs did just that when they decided to crown each one left standing in this town with a crucifix or saint (I'll save that rant for another time). At its creative best, graffiti urges otherwise dazed urban denizens out of their haze by way of surprise and can intrigue, inform and entertain us along the way.

I myself prefer wit to snit and each time I visit I'm impressed by the inventiveness of the stencils in particular. I enjoy this series of wild animals -- harkening back to the iconic she-wolf and the bloody contests held in the Colloseum -- when on my morning jogs along the eastern bank of the Tiber. There are at least 20 of them running along the retaining walls in various poses and to great effect.

Another amusing series consists of variants of these "glam-rocker" happy faces which appear to be the favorite of a local apostate -- they're emblazoned on a neighboring church as well as above restaurants and bars along our street. I like how they temporarily break up the monotony of cherub- and laurel wreath-encrusted facades. Lest anyone get too upset, they are simply screen prints attached with poster adhesive.

And I especially enjoy this more subtle stencil of fellow (and
now former) Ohioan Lebron James emblazoned on a park bench just off the Piazza San Cosimato. The caption reads: "Cleveland bred". I may just add "...and to Miami fled" if I can remember to find a black Sharpie.
To be continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment