‘The 100’ #43 – Street Art with Text – Morocco…

In Marrakesh, Morocco the street signs for businesses employ rough illustrations of the nature of the business. These are not graffiti or street art as we know it, rather they are echoes of a time long past in north America and Europe when a service offered to the public was advertised with a visual explanation.

The two illustrations in this post are for dentists. No problems understanding the rather macabre pictures of these services.

If your dentist is ‘looking down in the mouth’ show him / her these pictures – it may raise a toothy smile!

‘The 100′ series was initiated by my 100th Post in April 2012. As text and images are the essence of my blog my intention is to present 100 pieces of textual art from historical and contemporary artists and from my own hand. To view the series to date click on ‘The 100’ in my Category Menu.


‘The 100’ #42 – Street Art with Text – Italy…

I have hung a copy of this piece above my work table since finding it on a wall in Siena, Italy. Its simple wording: “Energy plus Time equals Art” has reminded me of  what, until recently, I considered the essentials. Whenever I have been caught in the web of ennui the figure has lifted its megaphone to its lips and loudly declared into my reluctant ear that which I haven’t wanted to hear and I have reacted with renewed energy. But its message is lost on me now and I have put this photo away along with a small mountain of unfinished work – all that seems equally meaningless to me at this time.

This particular posting is timely because, as some of you have gently hinted and others may have noticed, I have not shared my own art for a while. I have been in a debilitating creative slump and nothing I do to alleviate it has worked. My paintings are not speaking to me – every brushstroke feels false, every colour I apply feels alien and amateurish and every shape, form and line I make appears ridiculous. I know we all go through this at times but that knowledge doesn’t help. I have at least a dozen pieces that I have started that scream out to be resolved. I turn my head. I look at this posted photo and its words and understand that I need to put time and energy into my work but also realize that this is no longer enough. There is another element not mentioned by this anonymous street artist – call it X, or magic or inspiration or self confidence – whatever it is, it is missing and I feel alone.

Writing about this helps me to objectify. I am disgusted to hear myself whinge while my life and health are good and I live like an aristocrat compared to millions of my brothers and sisters. But now it is out and now you know why I am not posting my art and maybe now I can open to the words of Vincent and others:

 “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent van Gogh

“There is no use trying,” said Alice. “One can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” — Lewis Carroll

“So you see, imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.”  — Brenda Ueland

I am away for a few days visiting friends on Vancouver Island to moodle and putter. Will post again on my return.

‘The 100′ series was initiated by my 100th Post in April 2012. As text and images are the essence of my blog my intention is to present 100 pieces of textual art from historical and contemporary artists and from my own hand. To view the series to date click on ‘The 100’ in my Category Menu.


‘The 100’ #41 – Vancouver Street Art – Hack…

A hoarding decorated by a hired artist displaying iconic images of the north west coast: mountains, forests, ocean and a pod of killer whales. But the image has been hacked and the decorative idealism destroyed. The hacker’s addition is far from visually appealing and is far from the more aesthetic efforts of his spray painting ilk. He / she has hacked the mural with basic and minimalistic text but it is effective within its own context. Most will have considered this as pure vandalism with no artistic merit. I see it as an inartistic but honest attack on the surreal nature of such an image placed amongst the reality of such ugly and unappealing architecture which is itself a hack on the urban environment. The writer has obviously taken much effort to climb up to the high mural to post his / her iconoclastic statement and must have felt strongly enough about the mural to risk discovery and the legal consequences.
What do you think?

Street poem by Robert Montgomery.

‘The 100′ series was initiated by my 100th Post in April 2012. As text and images are the essence of my blog my intention is to present 100 pieces of textual art from historical and contemporary artists and from my own hand. To view the series to date click on ‘The 100’ in my Category Menu.


‘The 100’ #40 – Vancouver Street Art – Dirge…

Old plywood boards cover the windows of an abandoned building. They are worn by weather and scratched and stencilled with letters and partly concealed words. On a painted white square someone has written ‘Dirge‘ in green.

Wiki tells us that a dirge is a somber song or lament expressing mourning or grief such as would be appropriate for performance at a funeral. The word is also commonly used to describe singing in an un-tuneful manner. Used here it is probably just the street name of the writer, however, the artist and poet in me sees it, in context, as a theme / title for the art work my eyes construct from the whole board. The board is a dirge, a lament for the passing of old buildings, their past inhabitants and time itself – it’s evocation is somber as the board is somber and its visual ‘singing’ is ‘un-tuneful’ in the sense that the board is out-of-tune with the aesthetics of conventional visual art work.

The eponymous poem that follows is about fragmented and futile moments such as are reflected in this post and much of street art. It is about the life of an individual that shrivels amid the institutions and forces of contemporary life. It is about the loss of personal experience in the world of mass culture.

DIRGE by KENNETH FEARING

1-2-3 was the number he played but today the number came 3-2-1; / bought his Carbide at 30 and it went to 29; had the favorite at Bowie but the track was slow-

O, executive type, would you like to drive a floating power, knee-action, silk-upholstered six? Wed a Hollywood star? Shoot the course in 58? Draw to the ace, king, jack?

O, fellow with a will who won’t take no, watch out for three cigarettes on the same, single match; O democratic voter born in August under Mars, beware of liquidated rails—

 Denouement to denouement, he took a personal pride in the certain, certain way he lived his own, private life, / but nevertheless, they shut off his gas; nevertheless, the bank foreclosed; nevertheless, the landlord called; nevertheless, the radio broke,

And twelve o’clock arrived just once too often, /  just the same he wore one gray tweed suit, bought one straw hat, drank one straight Scotch, walked one short step, took one long look, drew one deep breath, /  just one too many,

 And wow he died as wow he lived,

 going whop to the office and blooie home to sleep and biff got married and bam had children and oof got fired,

zowie did he live and zowie did he die,

 With who the hell are you at the corner of his casket, and where the hell we going on the right-hand silver knob, and who / the hell cares walking second from the end with an American Beauty wreath from why the hell not,

 Very much missed by the circulation staff of the New York Evening Post; deeply, deeply mourned by the B.M.T.,

 Wham, Mr. Roosevelt; pow, Sears Roebuck; awk, big dipper; bop, summer rain;

 Bong, Mr., bong, Mr., bong, Mr., bong.

Source: Kenneth Fearing: Selected Poems. Published by The Library of America, 2004.

‘The 100′ series was initiated by my 100th Post in April 2012. As text and images are the essence of my blog my intention is to present 100 pieces of textual art from historical and contemporary artists and from my own hand. To view the series to date click on ‘The 100’ in my Category Menu.


‘The 100’ #39 – Vancouver Street Art – ‘Condem’…

Another old Vancouver house condemned and gone and a telling statement left on the soon to vanish plywood / door. Maybe it was placed there by the last resident or a passing street artist. A skull and the word ‘condem’, misspelled, but a powerful word and image none-the-less. It incorporates the state of the house when written (condemned) and also the feelings of the artist – ‘I ‘condem’  what is happening to this home’. And what is to follow? Another house, a highrise of condos? A speculator’s financial dream? The cycle of progress continues and the loss of someone’s home and the history of that home is negated by the pressure of time and the unfeeling marketplace.

Poem by Robert O. Adair.

How lonely
sits this house.
Abandoned,
uncared for,
once so filled
with life and laughter.
Windows broken out
like a blinded
old man,
a refugee
from happier times.

Thank you Robert for your poem and thanks to the unknown artist.

 ‘The 100′ series was initiated by my 100th Post in April 2012. As text and images are the essence of my blog my intention is to present 100 pieces of textual art from historical and contemporary artists and from my own hand. To view the series to date click on ‘The 100’ in my Category Menu.


‘The 100’ #38 – Vancouver Street Art – Can’t Stop…

I photograph graffiti and street art as I cycle around Vancouver. Many of the shots I take have textual content and I will be featuring these in this series of posts of ‘The 100’.

This image is taken from an ivy covered wall in East Vancouver. Amongst the basic tagging on the wall, the words, “Can’t Stop” sing out with unanswered angst. What is it that the person who created these words ‘can’t stop’ is saying? Is it that they can’t stop placing these stickers on walls? Are they repeating the words that we all say to others in our urban rush? (can’t stop now I’m…). Or are they bemoaning the fact itself – that they literally can’t stop Movement, Time, Aging or the Process of Progress? When we ‘can’t stop‘ I wonder how we can ‘start’ to really see the world around us.

“Leisure” is a poem by Welsh poet William Henry Davies – 1871 – 1940.

W. H. Davies was a Welsh poet and writer. Davies spent a significant part of his life as a tramp or hobo, in the United Kingdom and United States, but became known as one of the most popular poets of his time.

“What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare”.

The 100′ series was initiated by my 100th Post in April 2012. As text and images are the essence of my blog my intention is to present 100 pieces of textual art from historical and contemporary artists and from my own hand. To view the series to date click on ‘The 100’ in my Category Menu.


‘The 100’ #37 – Vancouver Street Art – Cheque #354…

I carry my camera as I cycle around Vancouver. Many of the shots I take of graffiti and street art have textual content and I will be featuring these in this next series of posts of ‘The 100’.

The cityscape of Vancouver is rapidly changing – old buildings vanish, seemingly overnight and photographs I have taken quite recently of contemporary street art and graffiti on walls and other urban surfaces have today disappeared and become historic. This is the transient nature of street art and is accepted as such by the artists who bring it into being. To these anonymous artists I say thank you for your efforts and expressions of your life and I dedicate the following series to you all.

The above image is a detail from a wall art piece taken from an East Vancouver building no longer in existence. What attracted me to this artwork was the poetic and ambiguous nature of the content and the untold story behind the efforts of the artist to speak to us with these fragments of his / her life on a city wall. The process of time, weather and human intervention makes this piece a work of urban art worth remembering.

‘The 100′ series was initiated by my 100th Post in April 2012. As text and images are the essence of my blog my intention is to present 100 pieces of textual art from historical and contemporary artists and from my own hand. To view the series to date click on ‘The 100’ in my Category Menu.