LOST & FOUND
By Grace Almanza
Whether or not urban art work is seen as true art or not, it cannot be denied that it is lost in time and place. Spray painted words and images stand unknown or simply forgotten in a variety of abandoned places. We see it on billboards, the sides of buildings on busy roads, and so on, but there is a great amount of untagged, simplistic, simply expressive work that adorns walls, tunnels, and remote passageways of abandoned buildings. These works are not seen as true art by the vast majority, but artists who have grown up around communities with their walls existed colorful and chaotic bring about this urban aesthetic into their own fine artwork. This is where urban artwork is once again found. Therefore, the art is juxtaposed within this abandoned building because it is emphasizing how colors, styles, concepts, and ideas that have been thought to be lost can always be found.
Artists like Hermes Berrio utilize traditional graffiti artist mediums such as spray paint to create an amalgamation of vibrant and dynamic subjects that take great inspiration from street art. Through his investigation of these urban elements the lost art is found – no longer is it simply tags on the side of a building, but instead forms and compositions moving together to completely re-arrange the meaning.
Ashley Cunningham finds inspiration in the distinctly urban stylization and abstraction of her work. Much like graffiti artists who tag abandoned walls, Cunningham is exploring the idea of language and communication.
Thomas Donaldon’s portraits contains an a sense of urban style in his rough patchwork, abstract markings, and thick layering of impasto paint. His close-cropped works not only emphasizes Donaldson’s interest of capturing the sitter of the portrait. The portraits also emphasizes the existential premise that one cannot full know or experience the reality of another person. Forgoing any traditional techniques utilized in portrait painting, Donaldson’s work is still powerful and captures our attention in the way that he presents people who are simply reflective. The artist does not need to place any obvious indicators of wealth and class for us to judge his subjects. Instead, Thomas Donaldson shows us that we all connected through raw emotion.
In the beginning, urban art was widely considered to be a delinquent act of territorial marking and crude messaging. It was not acknowledged as a creative outlet for those who have a limited way of expressing themselves. However, in recent years, artists have been drawing inspiration from urban artistic concepts for their own work, and thus blurring the line between what is mainly considered “street” art and “fine” art. Artists such as Ashley Cunningham, Thomas Donalsson, and Hermes Berrios utilize aspects of urban art to redefine what ‘high’ art should be. Bold, bright, and exciting, all the art in ‘Lost & Found’ highlight aesthetic and creative principles that were once lost and are now quickly growing and evolving. Despite it’s controversial beginnings, the urban art movement has proven to be the most significant recent art movement due to it’s vast power to generate meaning and communicate with those within and out of the sometimes exclusive art community. The possibilities that urban art work brings us are limitless – and whereas more ‘classical’ concepts are getting lost in the fray, more ‘street’ The inspiration from urban art are limitless, and whereas more ‘contemporary’ concepts are getting lost in the fray – more ‘street’ concepts are being found. The juxtaposition of the Baroque frames onto these urban-inspired pieces reflects and emphasizes this idea, and in addition to conquering the wall, as graffiti artists often do, it draws attention to the push-and-pull dynamics working within the frame and outside of it. It highlights this idea that the works we are seeing are not simply just color tagging on a wall – but instead these artists manage to blend street art and fine art together, therefore creating something entirely different yet still impactful towards the viewer. We are seeing these artists create an entirely new genre, one where classical elements are imbued, but ultimately the celebration of vibrant urban color, visible brushstrokes, and a unique sense of identity conquers over it all.