There’s a train or two coming down the tracks every hour in Ceres. The next time you spot, take a close look. Try to spot a boxcar that hasn’t been defaced by graffiti. Good luck. The odds are greater you’d find a hardcore militant vegan ordering a well-done rib eye at Sizzler.
The vandals who deface boxcars see things differently. They claim they are artists. It’s like saying an arsonist is an artist. Both are destroying something for their own gratification.
The so-called graffiti artists, of course, have a comeback. They emphasize they are artists. They say they are spreading art. And to back up their claim, they say they’d never paint over work of other artists. They should cut the crap. There is no honor among graffiti vandals, oops, I mean so-called graffiti artists.
It’s no different than the old adage about thieves. The problem with their argument is their argument.
They say people are wrong to call what they do graffiti vandalism. It is art, so they claim. They point to examples where graffiti art sells for thousands of dollars. And they smugly say art is in the eye of the beholder. Two small problems with that self-serving analogy. Such graffiti work that sells is confined to a traditional canvas of some type. It is not commandeered from someone else.
And if art is the eye of the beholder, I can find a lot of people who see trains as art. They’re called model railroading enthusiasts.
And here’s a surprise to those whose brain cells benefit from exposure to spray paint. Architecture is an art form. That means buildings — and even sound walls — qualify as art to a degree. They create visuals. They stir emotions. And while some won’t make your heart skip a beat, others do. The Louvre. The TransAmerica Building. Granted most sound walls or even steel buildings appear bland. But talk to an architect about use of surfaces, colors, and gingerbread. If you doubt sound walls today are just blah, then why aren’t they all composed of your basic bland Basalite blocks. You know the ones. Dairy milking barns and 1930s era public beach toilets are shrines to the basic bland Basalite block.
And we haven’t even touched on the obvious issue. The graffiti “artist” almost never owns the “canvas” they are defacing.
But what if the “public” owns the canvas and not an individual? Schools, public restrooms and sound walls often fall into that category. It’s still a self-described artist marring something someone else designed. They justify doing so because they believe the world believes as they do. All they are doing is making it “look” better by bringing “art” into play.
Sorry, folks. That’s a lie. A big lie. If you doubt that head to Yosemite National Park. Take a hike up to the top of Yosemite Falls. You will find nearly 50 examples along the way of graffiti sprayed on rocks. It happened in May.
Based on the repeated word “Fresno,” there are people who believe conjuring up images of the raisin capital of the world trumps the beauty of the natural art carved over three small ice ages and 30,000-plus years.
That said, what you will see reflects graffiti artists in their truest form. They are no different than dogs that hike their legs to mark territory as they roam an area.
There you have it. They are channeling the animalistic behavior of dogs. Sometimes it’s solitaire. Sometimes it is in packs. They are not artists.
That said, they are not alone when it comes to desecrating nature for their own twisted form of self-edification. The prime example is Casey Nocket of New York. She was the 2014 “Narcissist of the Year.” The then twenty-something woman took a trip out West. She visited 10 national parks from Yosemite and Death Valley to Zion She defaced the works of nature with acrylic paintings that she then snapped photos and placed on social media. In a number of them she took selfies with her graffiti. In Death Valley, she painted rock on the small summit of Telescope Peak at 11,043 feet. Apparently she thought she could do better than the commanding views of the infamous valley as well as the Great Basin and Mt. Whitney and the Sierra. Not that it mattered what part of the summit she defaced, but she did it on the highest and most prominent point.
Perhaps 400 or so people a year summit the quad busting Telescope Peak that rises above ancient bristlecone pines and fragile desert environmentalists. They do so without leaving a trace. In fact, if hikers see debris that isn’t theirs they will pack it out.
She also defaced the Mist Trail in Yosemite and a prominent overlook of Crater Lake to name a few. She was caught as most narcissists are caught — by her own vanity. Nocket uploaded images of her damage to social media to show the entire world how artistic that she is.
Once caught and arrested, she expressed extreme remorse for what she had done. Remorse? She deliberately planned a trip to 10 national parks taking her weapons with her to mar millions of years of nature’s painstaking handiwork. If everybody defaces national parks and government property, they would look like hell in a matter of months.
Nocket, like any self-centered social media user who believes they are an icon even if it is only in their own mind, put her vanity above everyone else. Reminds you of graffiti vandals, doesn’t it?
Nocket got her due. She was prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Rest assured the penalties were a mere pittance for the damage she did.
True artists, by the way, respect the works of other artists. Mother Nature — by any standards — is the ultimate artist.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Courier or 209 Multimedia.