Giving tagging its due, and reading locals online

The Graffiti Wall at Chico Palio 2013, in Bidwell Park.

The Graffiti Wall at Chico Palio 2013, in Bidwell Park.

Tag, you’re art I was wrong twice in this space last week. One mistake disappointed me; the other has worked out really well.

First, I’m kicking myself over being careless with the term “tagging.” I called the Sharpie-scrawled words “rape culture” on one of our CN&R art boxes a tag, which isn’t correct. (Thank you, Chase “Chachi” Moreau, for the friendly reminder). Even though many people outside of the graffiti-art scene use the term in the same broad sense I did, a tag is actually an artist’s signature—sometimes a hastily scrawled one in black Sharpie, sometimes a carefully executed and elaborate aerosol painting. So those words covering the breasts of the subject of Seamonster’s piece of public art are graffiti, but not a tag. Please take this as my very humble correction.

The second thing I goofed on was saying that I hated tagging. But, this mistake, along with the graffiti in question, has sparked some interesting conversations about public art, vandalism, sexuality, censorship and the definition of art via a thread of Facebook comments, and in a thoughtful email I received from local artist, Siana Sonoquie.

I actually do, from an aesthetic standpoint, hate the particular aforementioned piece of graffiti (which I think made something cool not look as cool), and while I’ve encountered some fine pieces, most of the tags and other graffiti I’ve seen in public during my time on the planet—in Chico, in San Francisco, in Boston, in Paris—haven’t done much for me, either. But just because there are many, as I see it, uninspiring artists (or just jerky vandals) using a particular medium doesn’t mean the whole medium is shit. (I don’t dig most watercolors, either, but there are good ones out there.) I don’t subscribe to any school of predetermined aesthetic guidelines as to what can or cannot be considered art, and I generally distrust those who make up such rules, so throwing an entire medium under the bus was pretty lame of me.

Ice skating in Paradise.

Thank you, online commenters, for accepting the invitation for discussion, and being smart, thoughtful, funny and civil. And thank you, Siana, for instigating a conversation, making me think and keeping me honest.

Online reading assignment Two cool Chico writers—Josh Indar (Severance Package guitarist/vocalist) and Chico State English instructor Sarah Pape (1078 Gallery literary committee member)—have published two great pieces of writing that you should seek out over morning coffee this weekend.

In his latest semiregular “Out of Pocket” column for online magazine Pop Matters, Indar tracks the ups and downs of the musical form we call rock ’n’ roll, and asks the question: “Is Rock ’n’ Roll Dormant, Dying or Already Dead?” Go here and read all of Indar’s fun, intelligent essays.

And the online Mutha Magazine has published an incredibly moving story by Pape about her daughter, depression, and learning how to be a mom. Go here and read.


• Ice skating?! Starting Nov. 16, there will be an outdoor ice-skating rink in Paradise! It’s being installed in front of the Terry Ashe Recreation Center (6626 Skyway), and will be up until Jan. 12. There is even going to be a New Year’s Eve party at the rink, featuring music by Big Mo & The Full Moon Band. Find Paradise Ice Rink on Facebook, or call 872-6393 for more info.