Urban Scrawl

January 18, 2011

Every kid remembers with fondness the times they got into the most trouble.  I can clearly recall countless times I was scolded, lovingly spanked with a slipper, adoringly attacked with a hanger, or proudly obtained a pink handprint on my young ample posterior.

I especially remember I used to write on our pristine white walls.  A lot.  Despite constantly being told not to.  One particular instance that stands out in my mind, is a 4ft x 3ft groundbreaking doodle I did at an early age I can barely remember much else at.  It was an epic pencil on textured partition wall rendering of a whale-bunny who had swallowed an artist.  The whale-bunny was drawn transparently, so as to show the artist sitting at his easel, painting a magnificent masterpiece that might one day come close to the awe-inspiring whale-bunny portrait.  Waves crashed against the whale-bunny from all sides, yet it remained undeterred, and the nameless artist remained captive within the belly of the beast.

Being so young, I don’t remember why I drew whale-bunny, or what my motivation was.  I can only guess that I was likely trying to make a statement about how capitalism steadfastly continues to encourage consumption and excess despite pressures of external forces which would otherwise suggest that redistribution of wealth in the free market economy is, or would soon be, much overdue.  Regardless, I had enough time to finish my piece before my mom discovered me 2 steps back proudly admiring my work, pencil firmly within my triumphant grasp.

CHRISTOPHER! ANO BA YAN?!  [CHRISTOPHER! WHAT IS THAT?!]

I was of course a brilliant kid, and I knew at this point that I couldn’t blame my brother.  Because he was a baby, and because I was the one holding the pencil with lead smudges all over my mitts.  Purely circumstantial, I know, and I weighed the cost of arguing as such, but I knew that in this court I would not be granted a fair trial.  The judge was particularly harsh on art crimes, a fact I was aware of from witnessing judgement against prior offenses.  Punishments which only grew harsher somehow, as if directly related in some way to the amount of weeks spent by the judgejuryexecutioner painstakingly erasing all markings from throughout the house (such a questionable past-time).

Resigned to my fate, I walked my mom through my piece, and explained all aspects.  1 min and 27 seconds of senseless childish muttering later, I had finished, and braced for impact.  I fully expected my bowl cut to be knocked into a gravity defying pompadour.

To my surprise, this epic piece was very well received.  Though my mom reiterated that I am under no circumstances allowed to draw on any surface in the house other than paper, she called my dad over to show him what I had done, beaming with more pride than I, myself — father of whale-bunny — had.

Utterly confused, I wandered off with my pencil, until my parents called me back over moments later.  They sat me down on couch and placed a mysteriously acquired and lovingly cleaned off 2nd 5th/6th-hand chalkboard desk in front of me.

Go ahead. You draw.

Many artists wait years for the amount of free creative license and funding I received that day, but alas, I wasn’t able to recreate the success of whale-bunny.  I tried, but it just didn’t work.  I tried recreating whale-bunny in other situations.  I tried crafting a social commentary piece on Eastern Bloc strategy as it related to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.  Nothing worked.  My mom even asked me once why it was that I wasn’t able to do what I did on walls on paper or other sanctioned forms.  I don’t really know, but there’s just something that happens in the journey from horizontal to vertical that makes a pit stop at awesome.

I started this post intending to draft a commentary on graffiti and it’s expansion from scrawled SharpieTM scribbles to homemade makeshift shoe polish drippy pens to aerosol fueled murals to sensational stickering to the art form’s proliferation in pop culture and presidential campaigns.  It was going to be a brilliant piece of work, complimented by photos of my own work and studio.  I have no doubt that it would’ve changed lives (perhaps saved some), and contributed to advancing legislation friendlier to art installations within public spaces.  But alas, it’s lost in the ether due to a haphazard whale-bunny digression.  I don’t know how I lost it.  Maybe because I wrote this post down, rather than up.. on the wall.

soldiers of fortune. my favorite brushes.

a peek in the lab

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3 Responses to “Urban Scrawl”

  1. Cindi said

    There…you got a comment…happy? Can you stop drawing on our wall now???

  2. Steph Yu said

    Loved this post… “father of whale-bunny”, too funny

  3. Jesse Sanchez said

    I gotta have more whale-bunny!

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