Archive for April, 2010


Street Art Etiquette

Here’s a great new street art campaign in the New York Subways which addresses one of my great pet peeves, poor public transit etiquette…

The artist, Jay Shells, set about creating a series of official-looking instructional posters based on a survey of a hundred subway riders which he conducted in order to determine their greatest subway pet peeves. Here’s my question to you, dear readers. What public transit-related frustrations of yours would you like to see condemned in official-looking posters?

Mine would include “When entering a subway car, please do not suddenly slow down when you have gotten two feet inside. Other commuters will be entering behind you and they will also be looking for space in which to stand or sit.”


An oldie but a goodie…

This one was really fun to do. It let me draw like a kid, and I was laughing the whole time through thinking of a little kid explaining to his class how Dexter “deads a lot of bad mans”


A picture draws up a thousand controversies

I’ve recently felt the need to get back into a wheatpasting frame of mind, folks. I’ve combined that with using the Rasterbator to turn some of my photoshop-produced images into giant-size posters.

Sometimes I see streetart as having a certain provocatory role. I have the opportunity to insert something into public space to draw out a reaction, which is what my goal was with the Mirrors series.

Bill 94, which prohibits the wearing of face-covering veils in government buildings (including hospitals and schools) is a big deal in Quebec. It’s so much of a big deal that some 95 per cent of Quebecers and 75 per cent of Canadians support its implementation. I’m opposed to Bill 94 myself simply because I see it as a non-issue. It’s the creation of a worry where none exists, and it’s pretty damn xenophobic. All sorts of public service organizations in Quebec have reported that the supposed problem of niqab-wearing women refusing to unmask for drivers’ license photos, for identification purposes at voting booths or when pulled over by traffic cops simply does not exist. The one case which fueled this bill, that of a niqab-wearing recent immigrant expelled from a technical college, seems to be merely an aberration blown up into some sort of representative case study.

Hence, this wheatpasted poster (which is the biggest I’ve ever made and which, at about 1.5×1.8 meters tested my ability to hang it up on my own.) I know that certain connotations come to mind when I see a woman wearing the niqab. It brings to mind images of a woman with a very conservative, controlling husband, but it also makes me consider it as a cultural means of accoutrement (just like yarmulkes, kirpans, saris, turbans, or Temple undergarments). And aren’t we blessed to have the variety of cultures at play in Canada that we do? That’s what I’m trying to do with this wheatpasted poster…bring out people’s feelings and reactions. There’s plenty of space for comments to be added.

And Quebec is a weird kind of society. It’s fighting a battle to preserve a frozen-in-time version of its own culture from the ever-evolving English North American one, and at the same time it’s the site of a growing reaction against its own immigrant population.

Art as a means of social commentary consists of two interlinked elements- the art itself and people’s reactions to it. If this stays up long- which I hope it does (speaking of which, I made a better batch of paste my second try around, but it still turned out lumpy overnight. Is there a good troubleshooting solution to avoid this, or should I just switch to white glue?)- I’ll try and document people’s reactions to this.

It’s interesting that we as a society make certain immediate assumptions about a woman’s character when she has her face covered. That’s one of the reasons why I thought I’d take an image that is controversial and reaction-inducing in our society and make it larger than life.

UPDATE: It’s already been defaced and torn down. I only wish I had set someone up to take some time-lapse film of people’s reactions to it…


Easter is here…(money, power, chocolate)

What happens when Evangelical Christians start getting fired up about reclaiming the true meaning of Easter from all this Easter Bunny nonsense??

The Easter Bunny gets upset, of course. He’s got ears, you know. He hears things. And he’s not the kind of rabbit who you want to see upset.

Wheatpaste done this morning. Easter Bunny/Tony Montana mashup done just in time for the best food-themed holiday until Thanksgiving.


How does your garden grow?

Well, it is springtime… which means that gardening season is among us.

For some of you, this means that a whole wealth of guerilla gardening opportunities have just opened up. Chek out Eric Cheung and Sean Martindale’s awesome advertising poster conversion for some inspiration.

And Mario Bros.-inspired planter boxes by Posterchild, whose website is definitely worth a visit..

And keep making use of the To Write Love On Her Arms widget on the righthand side of the page, folks. It’s for a damn good cause.


On Urban Planning

It’s been a long two semesters here at grad school, and I feel like I’ve aged a half-dozen years in the span of eight months. I’ve had a horde of information thrown at me that I’m still trying to understand and relate to the things that interest me, and it’s been a fight to stay interested in the subject matter (a fight that I’ve lost for a while and am trying to get going again). Unfortunately, grad school (at least in this field) seems to work on the principle of throwing huge heaps of information at us with little direction or advice given of how to understand the information or even how the municipal networks that operate the planning process work and letting the most ambitious among us or those with preexisting knowledge of planning pull ahead of the rest. Hell, finding profs who share my outlook and who can point me in the direction of interesting resources has also been extremely difficult. But what do I expect? I’m a frickin’ street artist.

It’s a poor means of education, and particularly so when it’s training future decision-makers.

Then again, we’re not just learning a trade as much as we’re learning to decipher a specialized language which we will eventually become masters and guardians of. Planners, just like lawyers, economists, doctors and a number of highly specialized professions, are members of what one could call an interpreter class.

I’m still trying to think about how approaches to public space design and city layouts can be changed and how to get ordinary people engaged and involved in civic decision-making. But it’s a complicated process compounded by a large volume of often confusing information. If it’s hard enough for me, an urban planning student, to understand the material I can only imagine how confusing it must be for layfolks.

Well, I am looking at examples of what other cities have done in terms of improved civic democracy (ie: participatory budgeting), how planning power was brought down from higher levels and how other cities have dealt with public space issues. I’m also trying to get myself a position with the UN as a planning intern in Haiti, where there is undoubtedly a need for urgent urban planning work.

The saga continues. I knwo this isn;t much of a streetarty update, but there’ll be more to come soon.