In the U.S., we vilify it and call it graffiti. Whether in the garbage alleys of Los Angeles or by the loading zones of New York City, graffiti artists must resort to secret midnight runs to express their creativity in order to avoid the red and blue sirens of the police. Even though the reasons for the “no graffiti” law are understandable (can you imagine the presidents of Mount Rushmore with multi-colored mustaches?), the line between an expression of art and defacement of property can get fuzzy at times. However, once you step onto Australian soil, get ready to swap that word for a more endearing term that Melburnians embrace publicly: street art.
I know nothing about painting. I mean, I do have some background from elementary school years and art class, but all of that knowledge is long gone. And yet, I am still able to appreciate the awesomeness that is Melbourne’s street art. Every single day in Melbourne is a thrill because you never know when you are going to see a new wall of art that you haven’t come across just the week before. Additionally, street art takes no prisoners in that you can literally find a few pieces up an alleyway, a dead end or truck loading zone completely tagged in color, or even a solo piece right under someone’s windowsill.
As omnipresent and noticeable as street art is, I don’t think that Melbourne is just about that one characteristic though. Just like in cooking, you can totally make banana pancakes with the majority of it being solely the batter, but you also need the bananas, maybe a sprinkle of chocolate chips topped off with some whipped cream, and drizzled with maple syrup! In the end, Melbourne isn’t the bustling and beautiful city that I have come to know without the constant screeching of trams, various palettes of fashionable (and some unfashionable) fabrics worn by its citygoers, scrumptious international flavors and foods, and of course the pièce de résistance—street art.