Friday, July 06, 2007

Art clashes with the authorities under the Spooner Street bridge. Authorities make the art disappear.

Is graffiti art or is it vandalism? In New York and other big cities, it's a trendy form of street art, there are art galleries devoted to graffiti, and graffiti artists have become millionaires. As far as I know, there are no Madison taggers who have become rich from their art. Much of the public despises them as vandals who should be punished. Like most long-standing controversies, both sides have a point. The real question is, where do you draw the line? The city drew the line -- or rather, removed the lines -- under the Spooner Street bridge over the Southwest Bike Path Thursday morning.

We were biking along the path when we saw what looked from a distance like an emergency vehicle under the bridge. Was there a problem? As we drew closer, we saw what the problem was. I was sorry to see the figures painted over. They added a humanizing touch and a much needed light touch of whimsy to a sterile concrete bridge that totally overwhelms the casual, organic environment of the bike path. They weren't there long, and I'll miss them.


Michael said...

I see your point, but I see this bridge (and the others along this stretch) differently. They make me think: railroad overpass -- which is what they were at one point. Possibly out of character with a quiet greenspace, but I think they're a good nod to the area's past. Far better than a few green characterless girders with pavement slapped on top.

I enjoy your blog, and the photos you post here and on Flickr.

Madison Guy said...

Michael, thanks -- I know what you mean. One reason I have not been fond of the bridges (Spooner St. and its cousin on Edgewood Ave.) is that they replaced more modest, less imposing older overpasses.

The funny thing is, I spent so much time working on the photo -- both on the photography and photoshopping to bring out shadow detail, etc. -- to try to show what I thought was a sterile, lack of character that by the time I was finished, I had become quite fond of the bridge, despite what I thought I was trying to say. (Often happens with photography.) Your comment helped me see what it was I was responding to.