The Days of Graffiti

Growing up in the 70’s was great; we were carefree and spent most of our time outdoors; nostalgic really. During that period, graffiti had set off an urban art movement…which was practiced on flat surfaces in public or private places for display. With little or no vulgarity written, it quickly gained popularity among the younger generations, so for those dating or going steady, a break-up often left one feeling scorned; leading them to voice their feelings by scribbling graffiti on walls…mostly bathroom ones. Graffiti really began in 1967 in Philadelphia, by a young man (Cornbread) who was displaying his written craft across city walls vying for the attention of a girl. But by the 1970’s graffiti exploded and was seen on all sorts of things besides walls; such as trains, subway cars and an array of items; then in the 80’s it began to be seen as real art, taking notice by educators across the U.S…the graffiti was colorful and had been done in such a way you could begin to recognize the talent, but by its own definition it was seen as defiant and a public exhibition.

The graffiti I remember most are the writings on bathroom walls; “for a good time call….”  Or maybe you remember this one… ‘May your life be like a roll of toilet paper, long and useful?’ There were plenty of rhyming words, and some might even call it poetic with etiquette; “If you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat.” That’s one I’m sure most of you have read somewhere, at one time or another. These types of writings by unknown artists can bring a bit of humor or give you food for thought…like this one; “If life is a waste of time, and time is a waste of life, then let’s all get wasted together and have the time of our life!” If you were reading this while in a bathroom, it may have made you crack a smile in an entertaining way, if just for a moment. Standard graffiti growing up was as simple as…‘Scott + Sarah’ or ‘Baby it was real, and you were the best’ and, or ‘Love not Hate’ … until later when a new kind of creativity was brought to the walls of stalls; it actually evolved.

Graffiti is an expression of the individual; their likes, passions, dislikes… some good and some bad; presenting it in the form of words or pictures. However, it’s the 20th century that embraced cultural graffiti artists all over the world. In some cities across the country you’ll find artists work displayed in popular destinations, especially during summer months; in Chicago, New York (including the Bronx), Los Angeles and more. Graffiti now comes in all forms, including metals or even junk, and while many are recognized for their artwork today, it can become financially beneficial or lead to showings anywhere. Currently in Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula there is a school, Cloud River Academy which sports ‘positive’ graffiti messages on the girls bathrooms walls, example; ‘You’re amazing just the way you are.’  With self-image being so prevalent, it’s tough on school kids, so they felt that giving a message of ‘belonging’ was important; not feeling left out among their peers. It’s about spreading smiles and kindness to all. This is a very positive movement, who knows. ..Maybe other schools or public places will adapt to this idea; let’s keep it real and enjoy this new found form of graffiti we call art.

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