Iowa graffiti

Subway cars. Or those plywood walls they throw up around big city building sites. These are the proper canvases for graffiti (I think it’s called tagging these days). But if you live on a farm or in a small town in southeast Iowa, it’s a long way to the closest subway. On Highway 92 just East of Columbus Junction, Iowa, there’s a farm building that looks like it might house vehicles of some kind. There are no windows and the building was originally painted white so it makes a near-perfect service for local artists/vandals. I first saw the building ten or twelve years ago and each time I drove past I vowed to bring a camera next time. Next time was October of 1998.

This is my kind of art. A performance piece with an unknown number of artists who might or might not know each other. Maybe it’s that the “piece” is never complete. There’s a farm house just a couple of hundred feed up the road. Does this building belong to the people that live there? If so, they must see the artists in action. Or do they only come at night? If so, do they paint by head light? Or do they work in the dark? I find that notion kind of interesting. Do the young people of the area have a name for this building? Has this been going on for years (I didn’t look for dates)? How do you paint so near the roof line? With a ladder? Do you bring one with you?

And do the property owners ever start over with a fresh coat of paint or do they tell themselves four, fresh, gleaming white walls will merely start the cycle again? Does Mrs. Brown ever greet Mr. Brown with, “The kids wrote ‘fuck you’ on the barn again. How do you want your eggs?”

Update: Sorry, but the images referenced above got lost in the move. If I can find them, I’ll update this post.

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