From our series on APPRECIATING ART.
The warm weather is finally here to stay so I’ve been out walking my dog and thinking a lot about Tactical Urbanism. I found the simplest definition of tactical urbanism on the internet, “a small urban intervention”, by one or more citizens who wish to bring about local improvements. An example would be planting a butterfly garden in a weedy vacant lot. From an art perspective street graffiti might qualify but that is more akin to “guerrilla urbanism” because the graffiti may not be considered an improvement by everyone.
Whether tactical or guerilla the shared outcome is “DIY spatial practices” for art. And the significant word at play here is “tactical”. Letting us know it has had some careful thought applied to it and by design is meant to bring about a better environment for the greater good of the community. It is, however, not officially approved by a specific authority such as a city council, nor does it follow any code for health and safety.
Still, it could be a graffiti artist but with fewer tattoos and piercings, more Birkenstocks, and a bubble tea with some friends from the birthing centre getting involved in a Yarn Bombing.
Have you seen any of the Yarn Bombs? Or Yarn Storms. If you spot a tree or lamppost with a colourful knitted sort of sweater on it you know what I’m talking about. Not tied on, mind you, but lovingly knitted in place. It’s a bit like seeing a Banksy. This is part of what I feel is a movement to get out into the city and show a caring mindset to the location. Not permanent, but still illegal in reality, though no one has ever been charged with anything.
Good thing or bad? I love it. Street Graffiti is an accepted even sought after art form and just the beginning. We need to add more ways to place art everywhere in the urban neighborhoods.
Some months ago an organization called Bank on Art selected a painting from a series I created titled, Beautigraph, to be used as a screen saver for bank machines worldwide. It seems to me that placing original artwork in novel places was a great idea and I began to imagine lists of other unusual places for art.
How can art become more integrated with this trend? Social media inspired the flash mob. What might be the artist’s version of that?
A call out to: choose a colour, bring a large brush, and meet in the AGO parking lot to paint a masterpiece on the asphalt. Would that work? Artists using chalk to create illustrations on the street who get paid by the city. That would be nice.
Beautigraph title: The History of Behaviourism
Tactical Urbanism could mean we would see park benches, picnic tables, and even fire hydrants as works of art. A subway train could become a gallery where artists might show their work digitally and along with the ads above the seats with poetry to read. Very soothing during a long commutes.
Imagine putting and end to urban eyesores by having artists transform them into objects of beauty. Yes, more art is needed and always will be. I’d love to read your ideas so give it some thought next time you are out enjoying our great city and let me know what you come up with.