A REBELLIOUS REVOLUTION
Rebellion is a healthy thing. It keeps our civilization from becoming stagnant. It keeps the art world from becoming stagnant. It is the status quo and it keeps it on its toes. Why should art be sanctioned by permission, inside a neat little gallery o museum or something? Why can’t art just be the expression of humans wherever the hell they please? -Lady Pink (Artist/Street Art)
Street art is an ever growing phenomenon which can be found all over country, even all over the world for that matter. The term ‘street art’ usually refers to unsanctioned art created by an individual with the purpose of making a statement; this can include but is not limited to traditional graffiti artwork, sculpture, stencil graffiti, wheatpasting, street poster art, and the ever more popular sticker art. Typically the term street art, or post-graffiti, is used to distinguish contemporary public-space artwork from territorial graffiti, vandalism, and corporate art. Most street art contains a meaning, be it political or social, which is intended to influence its viewer. I have found street art to be unique to each individual artist but small cultural variations can be seen in different parts of the country. My goal was to determine if street was actually culturally influenced or if this art was simply unique to the artist. When did street art first appear?
Initial research pointed to a type of revolution; street artists believe their work is marking a ‘new beginning’ of an art revolution similar to the abstract art moment in the 19th century. Clearly this movement was created with the intention of forming a new culture or shaping current culture into something completely different. This revolution experts claim to have started in New York in the 1960’s. It seemingly begun with a small group of young adults spray painting words and other images on walls and trains with the intent of making a statement or proving a point. This energetic style of writing became known as graffiti. In time graffiti evolved into something much more graphically interesting. The beginning of the street art movement showed how the young people didn’t want to accept rules; they travelled around cities to create painting which everyone could see as a sort of rebellion. The best street art and graffiti is illegal, this is because the illegal works have political and ethical connotations which are lost in sanctioned works. Legality still seems to be the largest problem for today’s street artists. Although painting on any public or private property without permission is illegal few artists seem to be deterred by this fact. These artists have learned to paint under the cover of darkness often working with little to no light always staying a step or two ahead of the law. If street art and graffiti are truly art forms, why do artists still feel it necessary to break the law to create it? Censorship and rules and regulations dictating the installation of these works strike a nerve in many artists. I decided to look closer into this highly debated topic. My experiences led me to a single location which seems to embrace the ideas behind and the beauty of street art. Art Alley, in downtown Rapid City, South Dakota, was created as a retreat for many street artists. An artist could paint or install any type of work without the worry of clashing with local law enforcement. Over the last twenty years they alley has evolved into a type of post-modern gallery featuring daily works, sculptures, and large murals. Art Alley “curator” Todd Rigione envisioned a place which could grow and evolve with time to reflect the culture of the area and those who chose to work here. Although the alley is a controversial topic among locals and often the topic of heated debates in city council meetings, it has become quite the tourist attraction only proving the curiosity of non-artists in this movement. Recently the city has come to embrace this...