Street art is a commentary on the nature of ownership, and the push-pull between public and private property. Using the city as a stolen canvas is in and of itself an artistic statement that art hemmed into the confines of a gallery or museum could never make.
The questions that street art raises -- "who does this city belong to?" and "who gets to decide what it looks like?" will always be a source of tension -- the sort of tension inherent in city life.
Pop star Chris Brown, of "F.A.M.E." fame, has placed himself at the center of that sort of tension in his Hollywood Dell neighborhood by painting a tableau of monster faces on his otherwise elegant home. The ensuing conflict with neighbors, which made front page news and which Brown plainly courted, can be framed a number of ways, but primarily it's an argument between "a man's home is his castle" versus community standards.
Like great architecture, great art installations seek harmony with the surrounding environment -- or if not harmony, then a pointed juxtaposition. Driving up Rinconia Drive in the lushly overgrown Hollywood Dell, when one happens upon the Brown home, the effect is neither. The curbside paintings stick out, to be sure, but in an opportunistic, rather than a deeply considered way. Round the corner and there they are, but the images aren't as glaring on the the approach as one would suspect from newspaper photos -- because of their orientation on the street, passersby view them from the side rather than head-on. In fact, most of Brown's paintings are tucked away into the recessed portions of the house's façade, seeming downright discreet.More »