Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Cyberflanerie: Rock, Mural, Street and Bathroom Wall Edition d'Not Art

(Translation: No littering, dude.)
So who painted this oh-so-Texan trash receptacle with the Magritte-esque slogan for the Marfa Visitor's Center? A 4th of July cyber-sparkler to you, whoever you are, dear artiste. (At least it was plum-obvious where to deposit the bottles and snack wrappers that had been accumulating on the floor behind the front seat since El Paso.) The question for today's little foray into les mystères de l'art is, would I get arrested were I to spray pink sparkly foam paint all over it? Hard to say. The Marfa Vistor's Center is, after all, walking distance to El Cosmico, where you can rent the yurt and, round about when I was there, sign up for an herbal remedies class-- and I would not be at all surprised to catch some ukelele playing going on at one their "happenings." I mean, Marfans do seem whimsical or at least mind-your-own-business-relaxed when it comes to art-- or, this is not art qua art. 

But then-- Madam Mayo plucks a few bees out of her bouffant-- what is "art"? 

"Manos Arriba," or "Hands Up," pictured right, is an approximately 1,000- 2,000 year-old rock art site in the relatively nearby (by Far West Texas standards) Big Bend Ranch State Park. Never mind that hypothetical can of pink sparkly foam; you touch that rock art and the ranger sees you, boy howdy, you're in a poke of trouble. Carve your name and a date into the rock with your penknife? Seriously illegal. And if you did that back in, say, 1887? Well, you'd be dead by now so much as the ranger might like to, true, she couldn't do anything.

Voyez l'équation simple:

+ Really old man-made marks = Art. Approved response: From a reverent distance, take pictures.


+ Relatively recent marks, including those made as long ago as 1887 by nonindigenous people = Defacement. Approved response: Express dismay.

Bloggable Graffito, circa 2015
Ladies Room, Plaine coffee shop

Alpine, Texas
Not that I personally don't feel sincere reverence for rock art-- (and may my podcast interview with Greg Williams, executive director of the Rock Art Foundation, bolster my case). I am simply sayin'.

Voyez l'équation étonnante:

+ Writing on coffee shop bathroom wall that evidences childlike yet articulate whimsy referring to marine life = Bloggable.


+ Writing on coffee shop bathroom wall that evidences childlike and inarticulate whimsy referring to just about anything and everything else = Ick. 

Where does the hypothetical sparkly pink foam paint come in? I don't think it does. 

Once home in Mexico City I encountered this street art mural with a hand appearing to reach for a grape-purple grenade with feet:

Mexico City street art

I have absolutely no idea what it all means. The word BOMB to the left often appears in Mexico City graffiti, why I know not.

Madam Mayo pronounces this Very Fine Art.
On a more high-toned note, here is a small section I snapped of one of the murals by Víctor Cuaduro in the Government Palace of Querétaro, Mexico, of the three monarchists executed on the Cerro de las Campanas in 1867, Maximilian and his generals Mejía and Miramón. If you were to apply anything from a spray can to that-- let's say you wanted to make a stencil of your hand, as in "Manos arriba"-- I'll bet you a million pesos that you would be speedily tackled by the several security guards.

P.S. Instant Art Critique Phrase Generator. I typed in 12345 and got:

With regard to the issue of content, the disjunctive perturbation of the spatial relationships brings within the realm of discourse the distinctive formal juxtapositions. 

+ + + + + + 

But seriously now...

The Lower Pecos Canyonlands have been much on my mind as I am writing a book about Far West Texas, and one of the many compare-and-contrast items from my previous book, Miraculous Air, about Mexico's Baja California peninsula, is the rock art. So far I've visited a multitude of sites in the Big Bend (most recently in the canyon that runs north-south alongside the western flank of the Solitario) plus the Lower Pecos Canyonlands sites at Meyers Spring and Eagle Nest Canyon at Langtry, which drains into the Rio Grande, that is, the US-Mexico border. And this May, just a scootch east of the Pecos, I plan to visit Curly Tail Panther. Did I mention, Lower Pecos Canyonlands rock art is spectacular?

Apropos of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, a recent and delightful discovery is that my fellow Women Writing the West member Mary S. Black, an expert on the Lower Pecos, has published a novel, Peyote Fire: Shaman of the Canyon, about the Archaic artists-- to my knowledge, the first historical novel about these people. I'm looking forward to reading it, as well as her guidebook to the region which is in-progress.

> Listen in anytime to my interview with Greg Williams, executive director of the Rock Art Foundation, which offers tours to important but very remote rock art sites, many of which are on private land. 

> My brief video of the first part of the hike into Eagle Nest Canyon.

> Check out these photos of a storm in May 2014 with massive flooding in that same canyon-- it gives an idea of how the caves were formed.

***UPDATE*** For more jaw-dropping photos and archaeological updates, check out the blog: Ancient Southwest Texas Project-- Texas State University 2o15 Expedition to Eagle Nest Canyon

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