Friday, May 13, 2011

Exit Through Rexburg

There's a strange phenomenon going on in Rexburg. (Actually, there are two: the other one is that apparently everyone in Rexburg just decided to start over, building-wise. At least seven buildings have been razed to the ground in the last few months. But that's not what I want to blog about. I want to blog about the other phenomenon in Rexburg.)

First of all, an introduction. The world of street art has been making its way into my consciousness with increasing enthusiasm over the last year or so. After discovering Banksy and other street artists, and after watching the award-winning documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop," I'm a pretty big fan. I said that once and someone said "But, is Banksy still as awesome now that his stuff is being shown in museums and auctioned off at $500,000 a piece?" I replied, "Good art is good art." And while the whole illegality thing IS admittedly part of the awesomeness, I mostly just appreciate the sheer creativity of works like Banksy's. (See examples HERE.)

And okay, I love the "I will leave my mark on the world" feeling to creative street art. There's some tagging/graffiti (ok, a lot) that I don't appreciate...any fool with a spray can is capable of writing the F-word on a train car. But good street art is almost like "branding," both in the cow-poke sense and in the corporate America sense.

And all of this is why I'm intrigued by this recent Rexburg discovery:

There's someone going about Rexburg with a spray can and a dash of creativity! They're no Banksy or Shepherd Fairey or Invader, but "RINO" is making a mark nonetheless.

Jacob and I have decided to call this mystery artist "RINO" because of the three above examples. (The "RINO was sloppy" one I discovered just today while going out to photograph these.) There are a handful of stenciled works, which is a signature Banksy thing, that I think are fun:

But "RINO's" signature thing is these bug-eyed faces:

I find them endearing. They remind me of Tim Burton sketches. And I guess, technically, the stencils and the bug-faces could be done by different people. But because of the locations of the art, and because it's REXBURG, I'm pretty sure it's either one person, or two people that are working together. It's simply impossible to assume that Rexburg has TWO independent street artists, working simultaneously.

So far, I'm a fan of all this. Even if it's illegal. It's a difficult thing, because if I support this, why not support anyone who wants to draw anything anywhere? So far, my reasoning is that I support the creative spirit wherever it manifests, but the main thing is that it's actually ART...or at least it fits more into that category than in the "vandalism" category. Of course, that's almost completely subjective, so I'll just say that it's purely my opinion, and I can't think of any way to reach an objective conclusion.

I like the mustached face. He's so expressive. My favorite are the eyeglasses. They remind me of The Great Gatsby. Rexburg's own "Dr. T.J. Eckleberg."

(Also, I felt awesome and like an underground journalist, driving around Rexburg and walking down railroad tracks to take these pictures. When I was photographing the eyeglasses, a man working nearby asked me if "That was my art." Which I denied.)


Carrie Lynn said...

Here's why this is awesome and okay while a lot of other tagging isn't: It is not offensive. It is not representing gang violence, drug use, or profanity. When I look at this in a neighborhood, I see a struggling artist and it does not make me feel unsafe unlike some of the street art you'll find in parts of Salt Lake. That's all.

France is said...

if you love streetart go to wooster collective! and or buy the book "beautiful losers". in highschool i used to volunteer to be the dirt on the ownder's shoes at an underground art gallery in downtown sd (voice1156) and the best show by far ever was giant vs. giant mike giant vs. shepard fairey- and an ed templeton show that came through later- anyways- these people are part of something so huge but more importantly they are SO AWESOME just by themselves. and i wish street art was more revered- in brazil they pay people to tag and make murals and wheatpaste. i just hate when people are copying off other people's stuff like b5nksy- people here in orem and provo do it everywhere and it bugs me.

A said...

MOCA (the Museum of Contemporary Art) is currently doing a show on street art, and an article in the LA Times about it has sparked quite the response. Many people have been writing in decrying MOCA's choice to display what they view as vandalism. I've been arguing with my mom for a distinction between graffiti/tagging and street art. But one thing she points out is that street art costs the government and people personally a lot of money as they pay to have it painted over and removed. One letter mentioned a senior citizen whose garage became a street art canvas, and he has neither the money nor the physical ability to paint it over. The amount of graffiti around MOCA has increased since the show has been on. Many letters have said that vandalism should not be condoned no matter what. I love the creativity and artistry and cleverness of it, but I have to concede that these people do make some good points.

And Banksy came around LA around oscar time. One of my classmates went and saw everything he put up while he was here.

brandilyn said... denied it...but IS IT your art? TELL ME THE TRUTH LIZ!

SILVIA said...

really love your style!!!!
congratulations honey!!=P

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if there could be some sort of compromise here; either the folks spraying use spaces that have been given the "OK" to use, or they use paint that is not permanent. I actually kind of like the idea of "transitory art" conceptually anyhow, since, really, how long can art remain meaningful over time? I believe part of the point of this art, though, is to use forbidden space, which is problematic ...

Love you! Mom

Charles Innes Jr. said...

Banksy isn't even one person anymore, if he ever even was one person. The only thing I really like about Exit though the Gift shop is how it makes fun of "art". I mean the fact Banksy can invent a person (Thierry Guetta) and have that person ramble off nonsensical gibberish and then sell his "art" for $100,000 and up... art is just a business. And now graffiti is becoming a business and its called "street art." Its the worst thing since Thomas Kinkade to painting.

Liz-a-nator said...

Re: Charles,
Ha! I HATE Thomas Kinkade! Although I'm still enamored of good street art, though, so long as its good. To me, I like creative/interesting/beautiful art, whether its man-made or not, whether it's being sold for $2 or $2 million, whether its in a museum or on an alley wall. At least that's my attitude so far.