Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wheat Pastes 2000-2002

     I'm letting the cat out of the bag.  In the years 2000-2002 I did wheat pastes all over the city of Las Vegas.  Mostly on the East Side because I lived on the East Side and fuck the West Side.  These were designs I made myself as well as a few I stole outright.  They’re not all clever but I think they’re all worth seeing again since none of them are around anymore. 

    If you lived in Vegas at the time and were wondering what all the fuss was about now I guess I can reveal my motivations and end the mystery. As if anyone gave a shit.  I’m sure no more than a few people will remember these images anyway and it’s probably people who knew it was me all along. 

     Las Vegas is… ok let me put this diplomatically, Las Vegas is an easy target.  There is plenty to complain about.  One gripe I always had was the constant bombardment of commercial imagery.   More than any other city I've ever seen, including Tokyo.  Billboards shoved their tits in my face.  Random signs clogged every conceivable nook and cranny along every street.  The radio blared commercials which were usually twice as loud as the music in the broadcast. 

     Messages. Messages. Messages.  None of them worth a shit.  None of them meaningful.  None of them strayed from the script of senseless spending and coaxing to spend and consuming and eating and shitting and drinking and smoking and chocking.  It never ends. 

     I couldn’t take the drowning anymore.  I had to plant little islands of humanity along the boulevards of bloated schemes covered up with minty fresh breath that was suffocating my soul.  I'd done some spray painting as a kid.  It would never stick for more than a few days before it was whitewashed.  I wanted something more artistic for which I could have more control.  Something with more teeth that might be easier to understand and appreciate with the potential to connect with others who might even let the images stand on their own.  Much to my surprise a few of them did stand the test of time and they were not removed for months and sometimes years!

     Part of this project was inspired in an off hand way by the wheat pastes I’d seen by Shepard Fairey.  At sometime in 2000 he, or his minions, invaded Las Vegas and put up their Andre the Giant posters.  Some of these showed up in my neighborhood.  I can’t explain why but it offended me.  Maybe it was the outside influence of these out of towners?  Well fuck that shit this is for locals only!  Within a few days I was plastering my own public art in my neighborhood and beyond. 

     I didn’t have a treatise about why I did it.  I just fuckin did it.  I wanted to have something created by my community displayed in my community without merit aside from connecting community.  Easy stuff to understand I would think but that mentality has little space in a place like Vegas where you’re bought and sold every minute.  Still I think some people appreciated why I did it.  It was 100% positive and didn’t have an agenda other than reaching out to be understood.  I wasn't trying to preach some bullshit hippie do gooder ethos with cute little messages.  More like I was trying to steal back something intangible that had been stolen from me.  Part of the appeal was that I was breaking the law and forcing others to look for a second at something real.  And I didn't pay a dime to reach my "audience."  

    It's obvious to me now this was also an attempt to reclaim some of the public space that was being robbed from me by mountains of advertisers.  For all the money changing hands in advertising revenue in that city I'm surprised no one from the public makes a stink about the rights we have as involuntary receptacles for these garbage messages.  There's got to be some subconscious side effects.  It's an indignity for the whole community to be plastered with messages about hemorrhoids, bad breath, or athletes foot and not give more than a fraction of space to public art.  Or maybe we are just pigs waiting to pay money to enter the trough?            

     I wasn’t the first to do it in Vegas but I noticed a wave of wheat pastes followed in my wake.  I won’t take credit for something for which I have no control but I’ll tell you there were very few naked telephone poles.  Vegas being what it is I wasn't too surprised to see some rogue advertisers using this wheat paste tactic as well.  I heard they got busted and fined.  Only an idiot would wheat paste his phone number or website at a bus stop.

     So with this post I reveal my intentions and officially add Street Art to the growing resume of my obscure, go nowhere, post no bills, pay no bills, IOU Art Career.  When I’m dead they’ll all say how remarkable and unmarketable I’ve been.  If my memory could be so lucky.  More than likely I’ll just be chewed up and shit back into soul compost comprised of hundreds, thousands, millions of dudes who had something to say.  Oh wait something new just came out…    

     I love bringing up my mortality.  When I die please print these out and wheat paste some of them on the East Side in Las Vegas.  Come to think of it why don’t you print some of these out and wheat paste them tonight when you walk to that Rebel station on Trop and Pecos to buy cigs?  

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