Thursday, April 29, 2010

Seigfred Mural and Graffiti Wall

When my classmate Dan Gilson suggested I visit the graffiti wall under Seigfred Hall, Ohio University's art building, in a comment on my last post, I knew I absolutely had to follow his advice.

I, having not explored my Athens surroundings too closely, often miss things, and I am grateful that someone could direct me to one of the most secluded, quiet art nooks I've now encountered.

Beneath Seigfred Hall and between it and the sculpture building, a large mural looms. It comprises half cave-style paintings in black and white mixed with something like Aztec-style imagery and jumbled text in a mural on one side with a concrete half-ampitheatre covered in student graffiti on the other.

Dara Farr, a junior photography major and my hall-mate, offered to walk with me to the site. She must enter the building upon which the mural is painted daily for her classes.

"I think someone repaints it every couple weeks," she told me of the space above the concrete stairs and seating across from the mural. Though she doesn't really know who the graffiti artists are, she says their work ranges in impressiveness.

As we rounded the corner up the stairs behind the top of Seigfred and Glidden hall, she told me that the graffiti at the top of the stairs and benches was new today.

In the cavernous space, the mural against the Sculpture building is the most overwhelming feature. As I walked inside the shadowed half-ampitheatre, I found myself bending backward, trying to take in all the intricacies of the looming mural.

The mural component of the arch/walkway takes up an outside wall of a building from ground to ceiling. It was a contribution of Ohio University professor Aethelred Eldridge who originally painted a mural there in 1966. Since, he has repainted it three times, according to an Ohio University article that explains his induction into "The Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes."

The current mural, according to the article is "a five-story, black-and-white mural, [titled] 'Neowes from Golgonooza.'"

As for the student contributions: they are obviously a bit less permanent. This week's graffiti displayed a shadowed figure standing near a cloud wearing a tie. A possible political message, "The Average American," was scrawled across the top of the wall and surrounded with stenciled gallon jugs of "H20."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

An artsy walk down Court Street

Today, I took a walk down Court Street with my eyes peeled for graffiti and painted expression. From the, apparently, pre-printed and pasted-on graffiti I encountered first to the blue monster creeping over The Athena and to the mural outside the restaurant Salaam, I found plenty to keep my eyes occupied.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

How to create a simple brush-holder

That little thing pictured to the left is one of the most useful things anyone has ever made for me.

When I had to attend and all-day arts conference as a high-schooler, my grandma wanted to make sure I had a lightweight way to keep track of my brushes; so, she got creative, making the home-made, very simple brush-holder you see pictured.

"I saw something like it in an art store, and they were about $15, and I thought, 'Shoot, I can make that!,'" My grandma said. "So, I just got two colors of felt and sewed pockets just big enough for the paintbrushes to fit. Then, you can just roll them up and tie them with a ribbon to carry."

It's only two pieces of felt sewn together, but it does the trick, and doesn't add the bulk or extra desk-space of having to put brushes in a box.

How did she make it?

-Felt material (one or two pieces depending on the size. Probably two)
-A needle and thread

...that's it!


Measure and cut the two pieces of material so that one fits to the length of your brushes and extends slightly beyond the longest one's tip. Overlay the second piece of felt and cut it so that it comes up not quite to the top of the first piece: just enough to support your brushes without reaching their bristles.

Next, sew the sides and bottom of the smaller piece of felt to the larger one. My grandma used a sewing machine, but she reassured me that it can be done without one.

"You could sew it by hand too, or even use some kind of fabric glue, like Tacky glue," she said.


"You have to see what type of brushes you have: How long and wide are they? You can fit them for any size; you just have to measure what you have," my grandma advised.

Sew starting a half inch from the top of the smaller piece of felt all the way down to the line you sewed at the bottom. Make the pockets as many and as wide as your tools require.


After those few pockets, you will have a portable, sturdy paintbrush holder. It generally keeps brushes in good condition, but my Grandma reminds that you must take extra care of certain ones.

"You have to be careful to put the caps on your teeny-weeny lining brushes; because, they get messed up pretty easily."

I love my grandma.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Ellis Bathrooms: art or not?

So, the scribblings of the still-angst-ridden college students on the stall walls of the ladies rooms in an English building may seem like a stretch from the graffiti wall and my justifications for its artistic merit, but hear me out on this one.

I mean, there have been plenty of grungy and beloved bathrooms. Okay, maybe there haven't but there was CBGB. Now, Ellis Hall is no fuckin' CBGB (may you rest in peace), but the attitude is there. Though, it's coming from snot-nosed English majors rather than snot-nosed punks (well, some beings may exist concurrently as both). Something about it just screams grit and collegiate anarchy.

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, but I get excited when things aren't as they "should be."

Eh em...

Anyway, so these bathrooms in Ellis Hall.

Scrawled across the expanse of the stall walls are messages ranging from the downright bawdy to the philosophical, from the middle-school-esque girl talk to deep secrets about relationships and mental health.

The walls document pop culture fascinations (see: the Old Gregg wall in the back stall of the bottom floor bathroom), the lyrics of songs and the English major's inherent need to correct the grammar of all who damage the integrity of the English language by DARING to write incorrectly in a damn bathroom stall.

Like the graffiti wall, I don't think this is so much art as it is developing into art by documenting human nature. One, if feminist-leaning, could even take it as a commentary on women's need to express themselves in private among themselves and in anonymity. Think about it.

For those who have yet to experience the joys of the Ellis bathrooms (this will be especially exciting for those of you in possession of a "Y" chromosome), here's an inside look at some of the Ellis Hall "art."

So, art or not?

CBGB photo credit: Rome Snowboards

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Ohio University graffiti wall: art or not?

Round the corner from Bentley Annex at Ohio University and you will step into paint-stained world for the length of three large walls.

That open graffiti section just off Richland Avenue has served as a student forum for promotion and for expression since the 2003 when it replaced the original graffiti wall, which had stood since the early 1970s.

Construction and additions to Bentley Annex forced the removal of the original wall, but students and the university found something worth saving in the wall.

Over the years, the wall has been used to promote a plethora of student organization-sponsored events and fund-raisers, but has also been a quirky way of communication and even a place to propose marriage for some.

One of my personal favorite displays came last Fall Quarter when someone painted "Who Watches the Watchmen?" on the wall, an ode to the graphic novel and then upcoming film.

Because the wall is so open for expression, it has faced its share of controversy. For instance, in 2007, the Theta Chi fraternity had painted an offensive image on the wall or in 2002 when a feminist group painted a large diagram of female...bits.

All of this history stuff is well and good, but is the graffiti wall art? Technically, it's a forum: a place for people to express themselves freely. Often, the expressions on the wall are actually advertisements, which - in my opinion - are not at all artful in their intentions.

What I see in the graffiti wall that is artful is its role in time, archiving life and our transient nature. The leftover paint and the layers that cover old marks all are evidence of moments in time and artistic efforts.

Whether their medium is spraypaint or simple latex paint and rollers, each person who willfully takes a stroke or spray at the wall is leaving his or her mark.

What do you think? Graffiti wall: art or not?

Next entry: bathroom graffiti? Art or not?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Athens, Ohio: a painted town

From the text-covered stall walls of the Ellis Hall bathrooms to rooftop graffiti on Court Street, Athens is a marked up place. One day an artist decided to leave those marks, making Athens his or her canvas, giving gritty decoration to the place using a method far from the conventional canvas on easel.

We live in a painted town, and I don't mean that in the "paint the town" sense that many students would use it to play down their drunken debauchery.

I am Cassie Whitt, the sophomore journalism student who will attempt to be your tour guide through our marked town. Visual art has always been a sort of therapy for me, and when I see people sketching, painting, playing music or writing, I wonder what motivates them to create the art they do.

I hope that in writing this blog, I will be able to reconnect with Athens art, get back on my path toward gaining a minor in art here and overcome some of my own anxiety issues by interacting with artists around town.

In this blog, I hope to explore at least a portion of the art scene here in Athens. Not only the formal art scene, but also the personal and emotional one of on-Green sketchers and notebook-doodlers.

Every piece of art you see as you walk down the street was once in the mind of an artist who consciously decided to translate it to its unconventional canvas. I have come to try to discover the origins of and to give more attention to the human-created beauty that is sometimes overlooked in Athens, Ohio.