N.Y. landlord obliterated dozens of graffiti murals. Now he owes the artists $6.75 million.

5POINTZ_HOME_BANNER_1Interesting local story that raises interesting questions about the nature of art and how society views different media. Though it has gained more widespread appreciation, graffiti is still not viewed as other art forms are. Also interesting to note that the law protects art of “recognized stature” and that term requires interpretation and depends greatly on what society in general defines as art.

The case marked the first time a court has been asked to determine whether graffiti — with its ephemeral nature — should be considered art protected under federal law, according to a court opinion. It weighed a property owner’s rights against the rights of visual artists — in a city where the powerful real estate and art worlds are constantly at odds.


Decrying Real Estate Developer’s ‘Insolence,’ Judge Awards Street Artists $6.7 Million in Landmark 5Pointz Case

In the lawsuit, the artists alleged that their rights had been violated under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA). The case was closely watched by artists, copyright experts, and property owners alike because it is extremely rare for VARA cases to come to trial. The law protects works of “recognized stature”—but even experts admit the term is vague and subject to broad interpretation. In this case, the judge seemed convinced that the now-erased graffiti mecca was of historic importance. Art expert Renee Vara, who testified in support of the artists, noted that the decision was significant because it recognized that “artists can be self-taught or academically trained.”


Song Exploder Podcast: Weezer

In this episode, the lead singer and song writer of the band Weezer explains how one of their songs came together. What struck me about this episode was how this writer creates the lyrics to his songs. There is no overarching story he is trying to tell. He has a running list of ideas for lines on a spread sheet from various sources and then uses those random lines to create songs. He looks for words and lines with the proper inflection and sound quality to decide which lines to include in his song.

From the podcast:

“It sounds like something happened in my life, and then I observed it, and then I wrote a song about it. It’s coherent. There’s a beginning middle and an end. And that’s totally not the case at all. Each line is from a completely different place and I just reassembled them in some order that suggests a story that never happened. It’s a crazy way to write.”

This raises some interesting questions about the importance of the intent of an artist. If the artist himself says there is no meaningful story he is telling, does that mean that a listener cannot find meaning in them? Does revealing this story undermine the value of the artwork being created?