While I was on tour with the Blue Man Group’s North American Tour, I got to see a lot of the states, and I realized how much I like graffiti. But not just any graffiti- not some kid with his first can of spray paint writing something lewd on a wall, but the really amazing, and artistic stuff. The kind that, to me, improves the visual appeal of the area. The kind that makes you think, or just catches your attention in a good way. In my own mind, I kind of refer to it as “Street Art.” Some of these artists do some amazing things with cans of spray paint.
In Barcelona, there seemed to be a Street Artist Code of Ethics, which, for the most part was adhered to. The shop doors there were popular canvases, and it seemed that if a shop owner had hired someone to paint on their shop door, then no one would paint over it. Where as if a door was left a single color, it was almost seen as a blank canvas. There were places that seemed to be free game, where everyone would paint, as a sort of collaborative piece of work, and others where someone would do something so incredible, that no one would think of ruining such work. Of course all rules will be broken, but this seemed to be an unspoken code on the streets.
To me the whole thing smacks of the original urge of early man to create cave paintings. This need to express something that’s in us and wants to get out. Perhaps it’s to help us deal with the struggles of daily life, by making something beautiful where just rock (or concrete) was before. Modern cities are essentially the cave dwellings of modern man. Instead of fighting saber toothed tigers, we fight traffic. Instead of hunting every day, we go to work in our own concrete jungles.
Early man was very connected to nature, and to their own primal nature. Their struggles were mostly for survival: Avoiding predators, hunting and gathering food. Most city dwellers aren’t concerned with survival in the same sense, but what I feel we are struggling for is the survival of our own soul. In a world which is becoming more and more mechanical, and less human, less connected to nature less supportive and accepting of our inherent primal nature, we struggle as a species to keep that part of us alive that wants to sing, to drum, to dance, and to create. To create something original that can be brought into the world, and affect people in some way… to connect to other humans, going through the same struggles… this is what we are here for. Even when it’s illegal, and there’s risk involved, people will create art. To those artists on the street, that risk is worth it for the survival of their soul.
For artists in other, more legal mediums, the risks are different. Financial risks. The risk of failure. The risk of ridicule. The list goes on and on… By choosing to be an artist of any medium, you expose your inner world to the outer world, and it is this act which can be the most difficult act for anyone to perform, and to keep performing. To keep at it day after day. To work at it day after day. But to someone who’s inner world burns with the light of a thousand suns, it’s the only choice.
I am a “successful” drummer. I earn my living by playing drums, playing music, performing, and teaching. I am very grateful for all of this, and for all of the opportunities I’ve had to work with so many great musicians and performers. But my heart is telling that there’s more… I am at a point now where I’m going to transition from working mostly for other people, to where I’m working mostly for myself. Doing what I want to do (more on this later), and how I want to do it. It’s time to paint my cave painting. To let the inner world out. For me, every blog I post is a struggle, of sorts. I expose a bit of my inner self, which can be tough. But the more I do it, the easier it gets.
For now- here are some pictures of the “Street Art” that I encountered while in Barcelona- enjoy!