Useless (youngwilliam) wrote,
Useless
youngwilliam

On p. 566 Was The Hieroglyph For "Blue Jay"

Did y'all see the Bangor Daily News Pigeon article?

Here's the full Q&A I was asked (and answered) concerning it.

Questions:
When did you first encounter Pigeon's work, and what initially drew you to it? What did you react to?
When you told friends, in person or online, about it, what kinds of reactions did you get? Positive? Negative? What prompted you to begin posting pictures on FB?
What do you think Pigeon says about Bangor?
What kind of impact do you think it might have on future artists or creative people in downtown?

Answers:
Around early July was when I first noticed the two pairs of wheatpasted gulls, and at the time I presumed they were an art installation that the people who maintain that little alley-garden on Central street had commissioned. But then Gibran Graham of BangPop posted a picture of one of the "I <3 BGR" pigeons a week or two later, which prompted me to try to find it, which led to me noticing a few more of them around town: the yarmulke-wearing one in front of Bagel Central, the sombrero-wearing one in front of Coco Loco, the one in front of the Court building on Hammond, et cetera. This seemed like a pretty good hint that it wasn't a commissioned work, since the owners of many of those establishments seemed to be surprised and pleased with them being there. Although I've seen a fair amount of graffiti around downtown, it had pretty much always just been standard impromptu spraypaint with the rare instance of planned stenciled work (when I moved here in 1990, the most obvious was the "USA out of El Salvador" stencil that was all around). This was the first time I'd actually encountered wheat-paste, and only barely knew about it existing. I have always liked the idea of street-art, but agreed that not everyone would want someone else's expression semi-permanently emblazoned on their property, so the idea of an intentionally temporary art form really seemed new and exciting.

In first telling folks about it, most of them also apparently hadn't encountered wheat-paste before, and had to have it explained to them even with an example right in front of them. Only a few artists that I talked with already knew of the concept, but even they were rather thrilled about someone doing it around Bangor. The only negative reactions I've heard directly from people so far are when it's done on a monument or work of art (I have yet to really work out exactly what would or wouldn't bother them, hypothetically speaking, to see what someone would find so offensive about the one on the Hannibal Hamlin statue, for example). Indirect negative reactions can inferred from property owners removing pigeons from their property upon discovery, but that has mostly seemed limited to when the pigeon was placed in a location that someone going in or out of the establishment couldn't miss (which I could see some property owners worrying about it being taken as a sort of tacit approval).

I started to photograph and post them online mainly to preserve the works, as well as to work out which ones had and hadn't been found (a mix of a useful service and personal bragging rights), and also in the hopes of working out the mystery of who was pasting them up.

The fact that Pigeon is putting up such a "big city" art style around town quite honestly makes me feel like Bangor is a little more metropolitan than one might normally presume. Usually, one gets that from highly politically charged things (the Occupy Bangor movement, for instance) or some distinctly negative indicator (the recent rise in bath salts problems), but Pigeon's works are mostly things that can be appreciated purely for art's sake on its own.

Obviously, I'm personally hoping folks' awareness of the Pigeon postings will lead to similar temporary street-art forms, like yarn-bombing (where you basically make little sweaters for trees and telephone poles) or moss-graffiti. Unfortunately, this could easily lead to folks thinking anything street-art-like is permissible, and deluging walls with rather standard spraypaint graffiti tags, much like copy-cat crimes. But if a few artists were to do planned announcements of public works in the temporary art styles, in cooperation with the owners of the properties, that could easily help deter random permanent scribbling.
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