Friday, February 21, 2020

For Authors, The Writing Is On The Wall

Image result for subway train graffiti free images

Breaking and entering.  Defacing public and private property. Trespassing.

Most people would say one who does those things is a criminal. The punishment?  Try a reward of millions.

Let me explain.

Carlos Mare is no ordinary criminal. He was a young graffiti artist in the late 70s and, 80s in New York City. Now he is the curator at the newly opened Museum of Graffiti in Miami, Florida. His works of art hang in New York City’s museums. He was interviewed in a movie and featured in a book. He’s gone legit.

On a recent vacation to South Florida, I revisited Wynwood, an area of Miami that was in disarray until graffiti artists reclaimed it and turned it into a living art gallery. The museum opened in December. I happened to catch a great tour by Mare, who knows many of the top taggers from back in the day who now sell their works for millions of dollars.

He explained that graffiti, once the scourge of a city in decline and chaos, was really an artform. He said it was a justifiable expression of those in poverty and left behind. It was the voice of the people, right there, on walls, trains, trucks, gates, and on any surface visible to the public.

Having grown up in New York City in the 70s and 80s, I can attest that there was some great graffiti art out there, especially on the sides of trains. But there was also a lot of crap. People scribbled their illegible names onto things like storefronts, wall maps, or handball court walls. It wasn’t always art – just a lot of spray paint plastered by youthful punks.

Still, I get Mare’s point.  Some artists – yes they were artists – used the city landscape as their mural to paint a picture of life that was not always pretty, to speak out for things like love and peace and against violence and hatred.  Some of those artists got arrested (he never did) and some died young, a casualty of the poor and violent streets they sought to rise out from.

The museum is something that cold not have been imagined a few generations ago. Police and the governments of cities across the country tried everything to combat the graffiti, spending tons of money to clean it up or prevent its existence. Usually, when graffiti would pop up somewhere it was a bad sign that the city was falling further into lawlessness.

But now a whole neighborhood embraces the graffiti and has risen because of it. The museum educates and inspires its visitors and makes us see things differently.  As a writer, you seek to tell a story, share information, convey ideas, question things, and inspire others. So do these graffiti artists. They teach us that what was once unpopular, even hated, can later be embraced. Styles change. The nation changes.  

Writers – and artists – can and should always lead the way.


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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