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Art Unauthorized

Staff Writer

Published: Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 12:09


There is a fine line between art and pornography, and an even finer line between art and graffiti.  “Not all graffiti is art.  Gang tags on the side of someone’s house is just vandalism, but creating something in an unused space, like beneath a bridge, that’s art,” mused Houston Patton, the featured artist of “Art Unauthorized” which is being held at the Center for Visual Arts in downtown Greensboro.  Twenty-something curator Kristy Thomas took pride in the eclectic mixture of artworks, which ranged from video installations to the types of spray-painted works one immediately thinks of when graffiti is mentioned. 

“We’re looking to try the freshest, hippest talent” says Thomas. “We had to pull outside the usual art community for this exhibition.” Houston Patton is a tattoo artist by trade who is used to spray-painting locations “without permission.” At this exhibit Patton had more than just permission, he was given a 14 foot canvas at the very entrance to the exhibit. A video screen next to the piece uses time-lapse images to show the viewer each of the steps it took for Patton to create the work: from an early pencil sketch to the finished product.

Other works included photographs of street life in a rundown ethnic Asian neighborhood, or an arresting exhibit which featured piles of what could be termed garbage laying at the feet of a television playing static. 

Not every artist attempted to push the conceptual envelope, such as Sam Cruise who used broken pieces of skateboards as her canvas to display images that were both playful and talented as were the very graffiti looking works of Bamer Aston. “I could never do something like this,” confessed exhibition visitor Katy Clark. “It says something, I’m not sure what it is, but it’s fathomable.” An art student with a critical, though non-critical eye took away a different impression.  “It’s a little bit vulgar,” said Erin Lowe. “It’s what everyday life is made of.” She, like other viewers, did struggle to find the theme of Art Uncensored beneath the bumping music provided by a live DJ. With nearly a half dozen artists who each offered works that might find no place in a traditional art show or gallery, the exhibition has both the burden and the curse to be an experimental enterprise. 

“People see graffiti art all the time,” reminded Houston. “But they need to see an artist behind it. Someone took the time to create this.” You have plenty of time to see this work which will be housed at the Community Arts Center, on Davie Street until October 16. After that, curator Kristy Thomas wants to have a skateboard themed event involving a ramp with live performers. These exhibits are free, which suits art inspired from the penniless streets.

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