It’s been a long time since I wrote about the Artist Alley Revamp Project. For the back stories, which started nearly two years ago, start here, go here, here, here and here. It’s been almost exactly a year since I checked in on it, last looking at the art in Java Alley. From the beginning I’ve been curious to see how it would evolve, if it would attract attention to the alleys and whether it would be defaced.
Recently, additional art has been contributed to Armstrong/Strong Alley, the alley between Market Square and Gay Street. I’d caught a few glimpses and realized there had been an update effort, so I was curious. I also have noticed that the number of people walking through the alley seems to have grown steadily. I’ve often taken visitors to the city through the alley and they’ve universally loved the effort, with some of them saying it was their favorite site in the city.
The work has proceeded with donated funds and through many hours devoted by the artists involved, as well as people like Jayne McGowan who has helped organize the effort from the beginning. The building owners have also given permission for their buildings to be utilized. They have recognized, I think the public good in having an artistic outlet on the street.
For those of you who haven’t seen the work or read my previous articles, please understand this is not the same thing as tagging or graffiti. Many of the artists involved make all or a portion of their living from the art they make. In fact, tagging and graffiti are, in a sense, the antithesis of this sort of effort. They mar the city and damage property, while this enhances it.
The question I had as to whether the art would be defaced has a mixed answer. Clearly some of the art has been defaced, but usually in minor ways and most of it has been left alone. That’s not to say small markings on a large painting wouldn’t bother me if I was the artist, they would, but largely, the paintings are in tact. We have a problem with tagging all over the downtown area and this doesn’t seem to attract any more than its share. It’s a sad thing to me when people attempt to do something good, only to have the work destroyed or diminished by others, but at least it’s been minimal, so far.
As you can see, some of the recent work is very good. I’ve heard a number of people particularly commenting on the waters splashing over the hands, which is just inside the north end of the alley. The shark is also a fun addition that I intend to show Urban Girl on our next walk around the city.
If you haven’t had a chance, stop by and see it. If you see the artists or know who they are, be sure to thank them and thank Jayne if you see her. Be sure to show your downtown guests the art that lurks just around the corner from the square. I bet they will like it, take photographs of it and spread the word about the good things happening inside our city.