Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Spray Paint: Part 2

^ This adventure begins in an area south of Seattle known as SoDo. Back in the day, there used to be a huge, 70s-style, concrete-domed stadium called the Kingdome at the northern end of this neighborhood; thus this industrial region, described as "South of the Dome," sports the nickname of SoDo. Clever.

But on this lovely summer day in 2009, I was on a mission. I'd heard, through some sort of artist grapevine, that there was an amazing graffiti wall along these back streets. Since the city of Seattle, in all its infinite wisdom, had recently decided to outlaw free-form street art, the owner of a nearby warehouse had generously offered to open up the back of his facility to any spray-paint cowboys who cared to take a shot. 

So, lacking any interested companions in this mission, I set out by myself to find this aerosolers' Mecca.

^ Once I found the train tracks, I knew I was in the vicinity. And honestly, it wasn't too hard to know when I stumbled upon the right place.

^ Because among the grey, drab industrial architecture and endless asphalt and gravel lots, a burst of flamboyant color and pattern suddenly danced before my eyes. Glory be, it was truly a sight to behold.

I took a billion pictures. Well. At least a hundred. With practice, my eyes were able to sort through the amazing blur of color and pattern and layers of images, in order to see the specific works of individual artists. I was fascinated by the range and depth of the various creations, and newly appreciative of the art behind the visual chaos.

^ I was surprised and intrigued to find inspirational messages among the bold graphics, and this one packed a particularly powerful political message.

^ This green, pink and yellow number was the most sophisticated and complex piece that I found. Notice how the artist began his work by establishing a long rectangle of grey for a background. While the overall image is almost too much for my eyes to take in, a series of zoomed-in detail shots make it much easier for me to appreciate the workmanship and beauty of this amazing creation.

Fanciful and elaborate as it is, this serpentine dream was not my favorite piece of the day. That honor fell instead to a much more humble creation:

^ Yes. A homely white D, outlined in red and blocked in yellow for a primitive dimensional effect, won my heart, hands down. But in order to understand why, you'll need to read this chat, in which I tell the whole story in elaborate detail to a very patient friend:

streicher.diane: so i was at this graffiti wall today, right?
streicher.diane: i was alone behind this warehouse
streicher.diane: near railroad tracks
streicher.diane totally deserted back there
streicher.diane: no one around
Nur Bahiyah: yeah
streicher.diane: but a man sitting in a big black SUV
streicher.diane escalade i think
streicher.diane tinted windows
streicher.diane chrome spinners
streicher.diane totally pimped out
streicher.diane: it was kinda scary but i just walked along and took all my pics
streicher.diane: and then i hear a voice calling...hey, lady
streicher.diane: i turn around, and this gangsta ish man gets out and starts walking over to me
streicher.diane: i just froze in place
Nur Bahiyah: oh god
Nur Bahiyah: then
streicher.diane: i say, yes?
streicher.diane: and he says, why are you taking pictures here
streicher.diane: and i said because i think this is really cool
streicher.diane: he is standing right next to me now
streicher.diane: he's huge and strong
streicher.diane: towers over me
streicher.diane: staring down at me
streicher.diane:: and he says, wait here
streicher.diane:: and he starts walking back to his truck
streicher.diane: im like...oh shoot, what is he going to get
streicher.diane: he could have done anything to me
streicher.diane: there was no one to see or hear what was going on back there
streicher.diane i thought about running away 
streicher.diane: but if he really wanted to get me he could just drive and catch up to me
streicher.diane: so i just decided to wait and die in the name of art, if need be
streicher.diane: haha
streicher.diane: but he opens up the back of the SUV and takes out a plastic bag
Nur Bahiyah: what is in the bag?
streicher.diane: and it kinda slides around as he is pulling it out
streicher.diane: and makes a very distinctive ringing sound
streicher.diane: and i realize that its a bag full of spray paint cans
Nur Bahiyah: pictures?
Nur Bahiyah: ohh ok ok
streicher.diane: and he gonna teach you how to paint
Nur Bahiyah: thats cool
streicher.diane: i was soooo relieved!
Nur Bahiyah: so you learn how to paint it eh?
streicher.diane: yes
streicher.diane: he was super nice
streicher.diane: he paints there all the time and showed me some of his work
streicher.diane: and he thought it was amazing that i could appreciate that as art
streicher.diane: he was gonna help me write my name on the wall
streicher.diane: but we only got the D finished and he had to leave
streicher.diane: he told me to buy some paint and come back
streicher.diane: he wants to see my name on that wall
Nur Bahiyah: have u take the D's picture?
streicher.diane: of course!
So that is my story about the day I learned to paint graffiti art from a kind-hearted thug that I met in a deserted parking lot in the back of a warehouse in the industrial district of Seattle.

And I must say, it was one of the most amazing adventures of my life. 


  1. So cool that you got to do graffiti! And I remember the Kingdome. Event went to a Mariners game there when we lived in Victoria. It wasn't THAT far back in the day, was it? ;)


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