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Paintless Street Art

July 31, 2014 | Alice | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Emeza_anti-graffiti via openclipart dot com*PAINT*less. Jeez. ;)

Yes, you can. You CAN have street art with no spray cans, no brushes, no markers or stencils. So, uh, what's that look like, then, you might ask? Well, for one thing, it usually doesn't go by the name of graffiti. Same guerilla art heart, different exterior, and often seen more as community minded, rather than about the individual.

What might make it community-minded? There are, in some cases, community-supported painting spaces, even in Toronto. But often it's something more temporary and easier to remove, so partly, it seems less like vandalism. And in some cases, it's something that involves people in the community. Something open-ended, that they can contribute to and join in on, something that can bring them together. (Though, in a lot of cases like that, permissions have actually been sought.)

Community_Garden_Letterboxes via WikimediaCommunity gardens or playgrounds springing up in abandoned lots being reclaimed by the community can be like this - one day, the whole community just pitches in and turns something useless and ugly into something for them all to share. In New York, this started among some dirty and dangerous empty lots in the lower east side and alphabet city, and grew into a movement. Some of them are pretty impressive, and now are used to grow food, as well!

Or the Before I Die project, in which Candy Chang and a team of volunteers transformed an adandoned home into a community art project that got people thinking and talking and spawned imitators all over the world. It's a beautiful thing. I love reading about people's dreams, and how similar they are across nations. it's really inspiring, somehow, to imagine all those people out there, all dreaming of something. If you'd like to take a look at this and get a glimpse of how other people wish they could live and love, she's got a website and a charming twitter feed, as well as a book. The book is actually really great, talking about how the project came to be, what kind of response it got, and telling you how to go about making your own wall. 

Before I Die Chalkboard 5 by Cory Doctorow via Flickr

And then there are temporary installations like chalk art. You've seen these artists downtown, creating a piece of art on the sidewalk that will last until the next rain. Some really elevate it to the next level, with jaw-dropping 3D effects. Some amazing ones by some incredible artists can be found online, as well as in the book Pavement Chalk Artist, about the work of Julian Beever.

Prospect Lefferts Yarn Bomb by Martha Jackson on FlickrYarn bombing is similarly temporary in nature. I am rather taken with yarn bombing, actually. It seems like it's got a sense of humour when it dresses sculptures in cozy sweaters, and trees in trunk warmers. I also like that while decorates and throws art in people's faces, it does it without damaging anything, and, well, how can anyone be churlish about something cozy and soft as yarn? Subversive AND taking away the opposition's usual complaints? Smart!

Monster feet yarn bomb by Rochelle Hartman on Flickr
Monster Feet!

I had the teens at my library yarn bomb the branch for fun this spring! There are some great examples online, as well as in some books, below. In fact, it seems that Toronto has quite a scene, including a group of University of Toronto students who are active around campus! Check out some fun examples that run from furniture to bike racks to sculptures, as well. There's even some great instructions to be found!

 Urban Knits by Simone Werle and Yarn Bombing, By Mandy Moore celebrate the Yarn Bombing phenomenon with discussion about what it is, what it is, and plenty of fun, bright pictures full of ideas for bringing the knit art to your own area.

Bloor/Gladstone branch just had a good time yarn bombing photos, as well - a sort of mini version of this art form. Check out some of their examples:

BL yarn bombing examples

And did you know we have a contest going on? True story! So if this is at all interesting to you, go out and yarn bomb something - even a little thing, and try it! Send us your project - you still have until the end of next Tuesday to get your imagination going and some yarn involved.