Most Houston Street Art is Really Boring

You make street art. I picture you dressed in all black, sneaking-up late night, just to wheat paste a poster of a cat below a giant advertisement for Bud Light. Or maybe you spend hours painting a wall with well-executed artwork, and it's extremely likely this artwork has no deeper meaning other than "this building was ugly, I put some pretty colors on it."

I don't like street art. It's usually ugly, overly hyped, and it has very little social or intellectual content beyond its surface. It's rare to find a situation when a regular-ass person is affected by it.

I get that part of my disconnect is because it's a competition among vandals. People are competing to hit more difficult spots, and the content of the art isn't more important than the trophy of having that art up. In a similar way, some artists compete purely on skill level, which usually seems silly and superficial to me in any medium.

My big disappointment with street art is I've seen good work and enjoyed it. I see it all around my neighborhood, and I've seen it around the city. It can be fun, surprising, and even thought-provoking. As humans, this kind of art can be liberating and just a nice removal from everyday life.

When it hits, it hits hard, and it's not skill that makes it valuable to me, it's the content. A simple, well put gesture far outweighs the skill of the artwork.

I remember when Give Up was painting "Give Up" with tar on sidewalks and wheat pasting razors on overpasses. The open-ended nature of the phrase "Give Up" was jarring, dark, and it scarred me as much as it did the sidewalk and immediate landscape. This is what good art does.

Someone painted a huge smiley face at the intersection of Dunlavy and Fairview, in the middle of the intersection on the face of the street, and it made me smile. It was great.

We had our garage tagged and I left it there for three months or so, until I got a letter from the police to paint over it or be fined. So I did what any self-respecting person would do, I graffitied the graffiti. I made something out of what I thought was boring.

I was at the park in my neighborhood, and what I assume to be a little girl wrote "bored" on the sidewalk in chalk. There's so much to someone spending an amount of time and effort into delivering this word, that I couldn't help but be moved by it. The fact that it would be washed away in a day or so made it even more fleeting and beautiful.

Like a funny limerick or penis on the back of a bathroom stall, what captivates a person is art that has a knowledge of space and time and knows what its audience expects.

When you're in a car or walking, you are the audience for this art. It's unfortunate so many street artists don't understand their work has so little time to make a difference.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.