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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ed Box's Orpheum Theater

The prolific graffiti tagger Ed Box(x) struck the Orpheum Theater downtown over the weekend, bringing his trademarks to an occupied building in the heart of the city. Observers first spotted the graffiti on Sunday. Among the painted items on the theater are a large cigarette, cat head and slogans such as "Forgive People" and "Roll Over Bay Toe Vin." The theater is owned by the Roberts Brothers and its exterior has not exactly been kept in good repair lately. No word on when the exterior will be clean again.

Those who travel the streets of East St. Louis and north city know this work well. The work of Box(x) mars several landmarks that have long since slipped from our region's middle-class consciousness. The downtown tag certainly raises the visibility of Ed Box(x) and hopefully will draw the attention of people who won't see his other questionable endeavors.

Thomas Crone has more at 52nd City: Paging: ED BOXX, paging ED BOXX


Anonymous said...

It's hard to figure where bloggers stand on Box's work. Crone wants to buy the guy a beer. Wouldn't a call to the authorities be more appropriate?

Anonymous said...

This was neither the time nor the place for graffiti. Regardless of the fact that the Orpheum's owners do not appreciate, let alone maintain what they own, that building is private property and destruction of private property is just not cool.

Anonymous said...

Anon the first, if you don't understand where "the bloggers" stand, re-read the blog entries. It's there, just not necessarily in black and white.

My own feelings are complicated--like anon the second, I usually don't like to see property messed with, even if it's not in the best shape (although this fella does, at least, seem to stick mostly to neglected buildings. And I know that's a slippery slope cos graf has helped tag many a great historic building as a "nuisance property" and bring it down, but still... better than on the front of some poor schlub's house.)

Also: Architecture is art, and personally I would never dare write my art across somebody else's. Especially when it's a surface like raw brick or terra cotta, and not some already-painted surface that will lose nothing if you paint over it.

Still, though, graffiti can be an interesting way of reinterpreting spaces and bringing color and life and visual ideas to public space. When it's actually art and not just some toy scribbling their initials as fast as they can, I do think it is capable of adding something really wonderful to public space. Graffiti as we know it now emerged out of an urban culture that had very few public forms of truly public self-expression or self-esteem available, and it was both a reaction and an anecdote to that.

Even the words "FORGIVE YOURSELF" across the plywood of one of the vacant historic storefronts on the Mall do, in their way, make it a much more surreal place--and while the Mall remains in its awaiting-rehab state of limbo, let's hang on to that strange and surreal magic.

(And I must admit to being amused at some of the righteous indignant outrage over anyone even suggesting that this is art--where was all the outrage when someone scrawled "ON bloodz" and swastikas on the Mall a few months back? That ACTUALLY made me mad and was/is not art by ANY definition, but nobody got their britches in a bunch then.)

LIKE I SAID, there is gray area: Obviously graffiti has plenty of flaws--as someone who spent a lot of their childhood in hotly contested gang territory, I know that better than you do! But still, I think that if you don't get out of the square white box that views it merely as petty crime and absolutely nothing more, you're missing out on something.

Anonymous said...

I think the big problem is not that Box did this, but that he did it on a beautiful building and not on the Ninth Street Stogel Center for the Parking Arts. THAT's where he should strike.

Anonymous said...

Don't encourage the blighter.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

How many thousands of dollars in damage has Mr. Boxx caused?

From the online descriptions, it sounds like plenty of square feet of brick, concrete, and terra cotta are now unceremoniously covered by layers of sprayed paint.

"Boxx" should be fitted for the stocks. Perhaps positioned in the vacant lot of the future Roberts Tower. Coins for tossing the first rotted tomato?

Can we get a bio on this curious Box(x)character? Is he a St. Louis product or perhaps an out-of-towner bringing his own unique brand of youthful urbanism to the STL?

Univited graffitti is vandalism and should be prosecuted as a crime.

Anonymous said...

Anon No. 2 is making some mighty gross assumptions about the good brothers' Roberts.

I'm thinking they appreciate their downtown investments very much.

Can someone set up a little meet and greet with the fine Mr. Boxx?

I'd like to hear his ideas on neighborhood renewal.

A dog poop in every flower bed perhaps?

That's the canine equivalent of grafitti, isn't it?

datjankitynigga said...

I heard that nigga dead.

Forgive the Forgiva