Art or Graffiti?

The line between “art” and graffiti is a wavy one. One man’s inspiration can be the desecration of another’s property.

Sometimes, though, what we might call graffiti is so well executed, and with such technical competence and taste, that we have to open the door and let it into the Art club. In these instances, it’s as though the creator simply brought his or her own materials and appropriated someone else’s canvas.

I did Portland’s river walk a couple of weeks ago and kept my iPhone in my quick-draw holster. There’s a lot to see along the way.

In particular, I was charmed by this artist, who seems to call himself “Two Front”. His drawings are on the Cor-Ten steel pilings that anchor the walk on part of the East Bank Esplanade. They’ve done their rusting thing, just like they’re supposed to do, and offer a dramatic canvas.

Two Front was more than adequate to the task. Look at the strength and sureness of his line; nothing wasted, nothing more or less than what was absolutely necessary; as few lines as possible to convey a strong and mysterious sense of character.

I suspect we won’t see his work in a posh gallery any time soon. But take a walk along the Esplanade. You’ll get some exercise and fresh air, see some original art, and there’s no admission charge.

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