Is graffiti art? I don’t know, though I tend to think that it is. Some of it seems very creative. I tend to think of graffiti as something painted illegally onto man-made structures like buildings and bridges, often with a negative message. But not always. How about when inspiration moves someone to paint something natural, like a tree or a rock, what might that be called?

These pictures were taken in October 2007 in the woods behind our condo complex.

We often wonder who the mysterious anonymous artist could be… What can you tell about an artist from her work and where she chooses to exhibit it?

When I was little we passed what we called Frog Rock (right) in Eastford on our way to the Cape almost every month. It doesn’t seem so big now as it once did. We’d beg Dad to drive by it slowly so we could get a good look at it from all angles.

I grew up in Storrs, Connecticut, home of the University of Connecticut. I’m used to seeing art on rocks on the campus, including on a large outcrop on South Eagleville Road, sanctioned for painting. There are new creations painted over it every time I go by, and have been for as long as I can remember. Perhaps this experience has conditioned me not to be surprised, but rather fascinated, when finding art co-existing with nature in the woods or by the side of the road. I wonder how many layers of paint on that outcrop in over 50 years???

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul and paints his own nature into his picture.
~ Henry Ward Beecher
(Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit)

Here’s another bit of Connecticut nature art, Snake Rock (right) in Marlborough.

So, are these creations art? Graffiti? Or something else? I suspect that “art” cannot be definitively defined, and that like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder…

Images: Frog Rock, Snake Rock

16 thoughts on “art?”

  1. Those creations are art.

    Where a youth gang has scrawled its crack and gun-crime induced hatred against everyone except those inside the gang, on a block of flats (apartments) or on shop fronts, it’s graffitti. And yes, graffitti can be art (look up Banksy) but sometimes it’s a fine line.

    In my opinion, if graffitti lifts the spirit and contributes something other than just the perpetrator’s ego, then it’s art.

    1. The dictionary seems to indicate that if inscriptions or drawings are unauthorized AND on a public surface (including rocks and walls) that is what makes them graffiti… So graffiti can run the gamut between “unauthorized” beautiful art, all the way to vicious hate crimes. I agree with your conclusion, Val.

      Added the Banksy documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” to the top my Netflix list – looking forward to seeing it soon. Thanks for the suggestion!

      1. I’ve not seen the film yet but will in time, I’m sure. His artwork is all over London, where I used to live and there was a bit of it near where I used to live too, if I remember rightly. It’s ‘guerilla art’ really!

  2. Barbara – Not ten minutes ago a submitted an article to a magazine on the topic of beauty. Here’s one of the quotes I used in the piece. I think it’s appropriate for you post today as well:

    Salma Hayek — Actress, director, and producer said, “People often say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.”

    1. Thank you, Laurie, that’s a wonderful quote. We are all beholders, observers… I loved Salma Hayek in the movie “Frida.” She was the perfect actor to portray Frida Kahlo’s stunning, true-to-herself beauty.

  3. I enjoyed reading through this post having never witnessed such creative graffiti! What amused me most, was the way they used natural formations in the rock to find a line. Very reminiscent of early cave paintings.

    1. Seeing animals and faces in the rocks (and trees) is probably like seeing figures in the clouds – only a rock stays still and is within reach, enabling the artist to paint her vision for the rest of us to enjoy and contemplate. Happy you enjoyed the graffiti, Keith!

    1. Thank you, Paul. At first I was annoyed that the blue gate was interfering with the picture’s composition, but since you appreciate what the artist was doing there I’m glad I took the picture anyway!

  4. It looks like art to me. You have a wonderful collection of artistic/clever graffiti photos. I always find that sort of stuff to be a delightful surprise when I stumble upon it.

    I also enjoyed the Salma Hayek quote.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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