Salem resident Jon Steiner is showing a collection of photos this fall, at the Salem Art Association, documenting a vivid and fleeting discipline - graffiti.
He’s a retired French teacher, who spent 27 years teaching high school French. Over the course of his career, he took many trips overseas, but on one trip, he found himself wandering the neighborhoods of Paris with a group. They turned a corner, and came face to face with a wall of graffiti that took Steiner’s breath away. He made a plan to take nine months to travel the world, mostly couch surfing, to seek out and photograph graffiti.
He visited Paris, Seville, Granada, Nairobi, Bamako, Cape Town, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Angkor Wat, Saigon, Sydney. Subsequent trips took him to New York, and San Francisco.
Over time, some artists in the street find themselves gravitating toward a more durable practice. Three artists on view in Portland’s Breeze Block Gallery this month have transitioned from graffiti to studio and gallery work. Jerry Inscoe, Augustine Kofie, and Christopher Derek Bruno work in a variety of media - acrylic, collage, constructions. If you go, be sure to check out the super-sized collaborative piece they installed in the back of the gallery.
Inscoe told us one of the major differences in this stage of his work have to do with the time he spends on his work. Graffiti, by definition, has to be done quickly. Now, working with longer gallery deadlines, with more time to consider and re-consider the work and think about things he’d like to change, he says, has been a real challenge.