I had this first cup of coffee in the morning idea that the next sculpture in the Bernice Garden ought to be a building facade, complete with windows, for graffiti artists to use. Brick, drivit, plaster, whatever.
It came to me after reading in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette that graffiti artist Jose Hernandez, known as X3Mex and sometimes Ch3Mex, was arrested Thursday along with artist Miguel Arrue (chapin), for graffiti in Hillcrest, including painting a wall of Delta Bank. They've been charged with six felony counts of criminal mischief, no laughing matter. The cost of removal of the graffiti was $2,600.
Hernandez acknowledged to police that his decision to spray paint the bank wall was boneheaded and that he'd been drinking at U.S. Pizza. The incident, and five others, occurred in July. Police traced Hernandez by Googling his tag. (I give Lt. Terry Hastings credit for acknowleding that graffiti is an art, as he's quoted in the paper saying.)
Hernandez, who was born in Mexico but grew up in Jonesboro, recently showed his paintings at the Arkansas Studies Institute (see above) in an exhibit called "Raices." He has loads of talent.
In Charlottesville, Va., in the middle of a bricked mall downtown (a success, unlike Little Rock's), a long chalkboard wall allows people to write and draw with provided chalk to their heart's content. That seems a little tame for graffiti artists, so I thought — why not a sculpture that is in fact a place for public expression? It's not a subway train, or an industrial building, but it could be a showplace. Even painting over the graffiti could be an artistic gesture. It's a step away from the culture of graffiti — but it could be interesting.
May be the coffee talking.