A serious conversation needs to be had with whoever the higher ups may be in this city making the decisions to chemically remove the art that gets made after regular business hours. I’m talking, of course, about the renaissance of street art in a city who has allowed the buff to control what stays and what goes. I can pretty much conclude that the chemicals used to cover our artists’ creations can not possibly be as green as the city’s officials would lead us to believe we’ve become as a whole.
But, who really gives a fuck about a buff?
Well, if the buff gets between the artist allowing access to his/her work to passers by of their chosen city blocks, then everyone – from art history majors to the most “non-traditionally” trained street artists – should care about the buff’s interference with the Boulevards’ beautification and city’s artists’ identification in the ever-evolving world of art. Here in Chicago, the buff has been established as an (as of now) unstoppable force, deterring our best from showcasing their skills on our streets’ stage to the rest of the world, rendering it a wasteland for some of the best unknown street artists. Hell, even some of the world’s BEST street artists get buffed out when they make their way to The Chi. (Sorry Shepard. Sorry Banksy.) That just doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. Chicago may be the least desirable big city for street artists to perform in, and I am embarrassed by that. But at the same time, I feel our city has given birth to some of the best forcefully unknown street artists the world has to offer. We just haven’t had the opportunity to showcase our skills for more than a few days at a time before the buff comes through and ruins it for everyone. Where is the appreciation? Where does the line get drawn? How do we beat the buff?
However, on the flip side, San Francisco has no idea of the existence of a buff. If they do have a buff out west, it’s a really slow and lazy, nonchalant buff who allows splendid stencils, magnificent murals and scrumptious sculptures to run wild on their streets, creating a sense of actual community and a connection between the artists of that community and the citizens who inhabit it, not to mention visitors like myself and the millions of others who come through and gaze in wide wonder. That’s how you create a movement. That’s how you get it together. No need for rants about why the buff blows in San Francisco. No tireless efforts to allow their artists to perform on the regular. Just pure, unadulterated art in the streets. From Jeremy Fish to Laura Campos and even a little Banksy action, San Francisco knows what’s up when it comes to preserving their street art culture and identity. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.