Enlivening dead city spaces with street art
Posted September 13, 2013
I pretty much love street art, when it’s not too gritty or too pretentious. Art is a terrific way to bring a bit of life to blank walls and otherwise dead spaces, as well as to add flavor to nicer places. Public art is not perfect as a solution to neighborhood design issues – urbanist purists will tell you about a dozen reasons why – but it helps, sometimes a lot.
I can’t imagine Woodley Park in DC without the now-iconic mural of Marilyn Monroe overlooking the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Calvert Street.
Street art can also evoke earlier times, as with this mural of dancers along what would otherwise be a blank wall in Santa Monica . . .
Or it can present history more explicitly, as with the mural of North American indigenous society in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland.
In Boston, a sign made by kids in the Codman Square district’s Elmhurst Park demonstrates the community’s interest in reducing crime.
And sometimes a colorful sculpture can bring a bit of humor and playfulness to a downtown office district in DC, where the office workers are always Very Serious About Very Important Things. (The building in the background housed NRDC’s Washington office when I took the photo.)
If perhaps you’re feeling a bit too serious or mentally confined, check out “The best examples of street art in 2012 (48 Pictures)” (sample just above), curated by the web site memolition. Some are pretty amazing.
Thanks to Meera Collier-Mitchell for pointing me to memolition’s collection.
- Wow: animating the city with amazing, kinetic LEDs (November 30, 2012)
- Building community by painting the town with street art (July 5, 2012)
- Animating the street with astonishing music (October 10, 2011)
- Strengthening community through interactive street art (NOLA resilience part 2) (May 12, 2011)
- Amazing street art that enlivens cities (August 27, 2010)
Move your cursor over the images for credit information.
Kaid Benfield writes about community, development, and the environment on Switchboard and in other national media. For more posts, see his blog's home page. Please also visit NRDC’s Sustainable Communities Video Channels.