Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Art by the Street Sides

Orestes Nuez - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — There’s art to be found in laughter as in tears. There’s art in a prison cell, at home, and out in the streets. Aside from the arts that nature breathes, artistic talents express themselves in every conceivable way, in every available space.

The street sides, for instance. Who would normally see it as a potential venue for artistic expression? But, in fact, it is a highly visible art venue.

There’s something called street art. It’s so called because it’s located around streets. But it’s basically visual art created in public locations, usually unsanctioned artwork executed outside of the context of traditional art venues.

It’s alternately called “independent public art,” “post-graffiti,” and “neo-graffiti,” and is closely related with such non-traditional arts as “urban art” and “guerrilla art.” The common forms and media of street art include spray paint graffiti, stencil graffiti, wheatpasted poster art, sticker art, street installations, and sculpture. And, yes, “video projection” and “yarn bombing” are considered to have, in the past several years, joined the ranks of street art.

Street art is a form of artwork that is displayed in a community on its surrounding buildings, streets, and other publicly viewed surfaces. While the name may not be very familiar outside of the art center cities, it is nevertheless found in many places. The roadside murals found in Cebu City are proof.

Why the many roadside murals hereabouts have not been generally appreciated as legitimate street art is perhaps due to a lack of discernible message. Street art is supposed to make a public statement about the society that its creators lives within. Some of the local roadside murals are just a small step above sheer vandalism; others as alternative advertising.

But does street art really need to carry some ‘big’ messages to be legitimate? What about street murals that just communicate simple beauty? Perhaps the beauty portrayed is message enough.

True, artists may use “smart vandalism” as a way to raise public awareness of social and political issues. Or they may simply see urban space as an untapped format for personal artwork. Or they may be motivated by the very challenges and risks to be hurdled in installing illicit artwork in public places.

Creating art in a format which utilizes public space allows artists who may not have access to the formal art venues to reach a much broader audience than the formal art venues could gather. New media forms such as projection onto large city buildings are an increasingly popular tool for street artists. Indeed, street art embraces new technology, while at the same time holding on to its vandalism origins.

The street art realm is continually expanding. It can also include work in remote places that may not be visited by an audience, and may also be short-lived – to the point that it may already have to be called by another name. An ephemeral instance of colored smoke in the forest or a precarious rock balance may embody such art. Some work has also been installed underwater.

Although this type of art has become a staple of major cities around the world, the popularity of this form of artistic expression is not so common elsewhere. But it’s there, only not as widely recognized or appreciated. Those with a heart for art find it – those with an eye for art see it.


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