RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Sunday, February 13

MNZ: Juxtapox February 2011

I usually always grab Juxtapoz when it’s there in front of my eyeballs at a bookstore. A lot of the whole street art movement has become dull imitations of its own self, and frankly, Juxtapoz only perpetuates that. There’s a lot of strange art being done on actual streets that I think should fall under the philosophical umbrella of Juxtapoz, but it gets overlooked because it’s not part of the cool clique that is acceptable to them. Nonetheless, every other month, there’ll be something worthwhile in there for me, although it seems like that’s less so lately.
The February issue was interesting to me because there was a feature on a revitalization project for Detroit. Like I said yesterday regarding Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, I’m very intrigued by the decline of America’s urban and semi-urban clusters. As the recent media meme has proven, nowhere is that more visible than Detroit, a city that had a million and a half people living there in the 1950s when the city was on top of the World, so to speak, and has terminally dwindled down to about half of that now. There’s been photo essays about the beautiful neglect, articles galore written on the city, even the stupid Eminem anti-commercial commercial that launched during the Super Bowl about how ain’t nobody know how Detroit really is. But the fact of the matter is they’re reeling in public services from certain sections of the city, encouraging people to consolidate, sort of contracting themselves, creating these actual economic wastelands of areas that used to be full of people and now are pretty much fairly secluded and almost rural-feeling areas, even though there’s city gridlock of streets and water mains and mail routes and everything you’d expect with organized civilization.
Well, this art project bought up some of these cheap rundown houses in one couple block area, with the idea of bringing art to the neglect. This, I think, is a good idea, and one I’ve not understood why hasn’t happened more often. Why not have a group of young, artistically minded people buy up houses in a rundown part of a town and create something for themselves? I know this sounds dangerously like “gentrification” which usually entails running out the locals with more police presence and higher property taxes, but I think if you had people who cared about the original spirit of a neighborhood, as opposed to a grand vision of an affordable urban neighborhood upgrade, it could work.
My problem with this art project in Juxtapoz was it wasn’t functional. Of the four houses, three would not ever be inhabited. One was, and actually was my favorite anyways because it had the big weird alien cholo writing of RETNA all around the top of each room. But two of them looked more like installations that you could only look at. And if it’s calling itself “art” when it’s being done, then they’re probably not going to let people walk around amongst the place and check it out. And the fourth was like some dude just doing weird street art pieces on an abandoned house. It wasn’t a revitalization so much as giving the guy open clearance to go nuts all over an abandoned house without repercussion. I don’t know… the whole thing seemed stupid to me. I see the beauty of helping a place like that reblossom through wacky crazy art, but when the art becomes what the function is, the places loses its value as a home. And if a city, even abandoned, can’t be used as a home but only as a museum for the chosen to install their visions, then it’s still elitism, just scooped off the bottom of our world instead of skimmed from the top.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Detroit has some crazy shit going on. One of their new problems in the city is bears. Thats right, there are so many empty neighborhoods that bears are no longer afraid to come into the areas. There is also a cool thing being done (i guess) by their mayor. Offering houses for $1,500 to city police and firemen - but they have to move into the city instead of the suburbs. Check it out, its kind of cool because it uses no Federal Obama money.