After yesterday's AMOEBLOG (the first part of this three part showcase of the graffiiti art outside Amoeba Music on Haight St.) two good comments were posted -- both positive/pro graffiti art. Melissa in SF wrote that she is also in favor of graffiti as art but how she'd "wish they'd clean up them big heads in the back...it's all messed up with cheap tags and dirt, and that has been my fave piece forever!" -- this in reference to one of the heads captured in the pic to the left here and also below in four pics. I agree with Melissa. And to me these particular images are just so striking that I literally could stand (or sit) in front of them for hours on end gazing upon their blinding beauty. And truth-be-told, I have spent a lot of time doing just that -- sitting down for long periods and slowly taking in the street art in front of me. It's no different than going to a gallery/museum and allowing ample time to fully absorb an art exhibit. Which reminds me of one time a few years ago downtown San Francisco on opening night for the MoMa for some hot, hot show. I wish I could remember exactly what the new about-to-be-unveiled exhibit was. It was one of those really well-publicized and hyped exhibits that everyone was talking about at the time...kinda like the buzz surrounding the ongoing Vivienne Westwood show in SF. But anyway, the point was that it was opening night and there was a huge mob of people (many there to be seen or to simply chug down the complimentary wine and cheese) all queuing up outside. In fact, the line was so long it snaked all the way down Third Street towards Mission and around the corner down this little alley/side street. But on that side street on that chilly San Francisco evening, as everyone was chatting and looking ahead wishing for the line to move faster, right to their left (behind a wire fence) were all these stunningly beautiful fresh graffiti pieces. But the people in line, anxious to get inside, all seemed to ignore the street art that (in my opinion at the time) was way better than the exhibit inside. The point being that street art, like the graffiti that adorns the outside walls of Amoeba SF and across the street from the store too and all around the immediate Haight Street 'hood, is in reality a wonderful public art gallery there to be enjoyed, and better still, it never has a cover charge.
The other Amoeblog reader to respond was Joe in SF who offered this insight: "Interesting thing about Amoeba Music is that not all the writers are local to SF. Several out of towners have painted there as well... It's great that the store fosters this type of art when in most cases it's frowned upon. When is the Hollywood store signing up?" Good question, Joe, but my guess is the answer to that would be NEVER. Basically, it is the difference in laws and attitude between San Francisco and Los Angeles -- namely SFPD vs LAPD. I have taken pics of graffiti around the Amoeba Music Hollywood store, but sadly, it wouldn't amount to a teeny eeny weeny BLOG entry since it would be like one picture of one lil tag on a lampost above a sticker for some new OC punk band (I exaggerate a little). But I do remember one specific incident a few years back, directly in front of Amoeba Hollywood. It was right when the Amoeba Music Compilation Volume V was being released and I had a stack of big (18" by 24") color posters for the compilation (with cover art by Damion Silver) with me. The same posters, note, that I had plastered up and down Haight Street without incident earlier that same week. So anyway, while there in Hollywood, I thought to myself "Hey, I should put a few of these up outside Amoeba. What a great idea!" NOT. I should have checked in with someone else at the store beforehand. If so, they would have warned me of what was about to happen. It was about 6:30PM and still sunny and warm outside and I was right in front of Amoeba on Sunset and was just about to tape up the first of a few posters on one of those big metal boxes on the sidewalk (that house the wiring for the traffic lights). "Hmm, so nice and clean. And absolutely no other posters or stickers on it," I thought to myself with glee as I began to excitedly tape up the first, I'd hoped, of four posters. But next thing I hear, the loud screech of tires and out of the side of my eye notice a black & white LAPD car do a wide U turnaround (and Sunset Boulevard is about six lanes wide!) to screech to a halt on the street right in front of me and two coppers jump out and proceed to (almost) arrest me. "Holy shit!" I thought to myself. "No wonder there were no other posters or stickers or graffiti in sight." Luckily I eventually managed to talk my way out of being arrested and was let go with a stern warning. A little later afterward, back inside the safe confines of the store, as I related the story to KP, she shook her head and said wisely: "Hey this is LA and the LAPD. This isn't San Francisco or Berkeley!" How true!
If you have any graffiti stories to share (good or bad) please add them to the "comments" below after the pics of graffiti outside the Amoeba Music San Francisco. Thanks!
"It ain't garbage. It's art" - Anonymous Amoebite