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What do you think of graffiti?

In general it just looks like vandalism to me. Okay, every once in a blue moon you get a Haring, Basquiat or Banksy, but you know… hardly ever. Mostly it’s crappy blobby spray-painted messes that only serve to make neighbourhoods look shabby.

I guess when a building is abandoned, like the one in the before & after pics on the left, and its windows have already been covered over with layers of tacky posters, it’s not any worse to have a couple of guys from a local gallery come and paint that over with their website logo. But many shop and restaurant owners would have to repaint their properties on a weekly basis just to have clean walls for a day or two.

So I was surprised to come across Alexandra Del Bene the other day while on my way home from a walk around the Alameda. She was busy with spray cans and paint brushes painting the window protectors of the Santa Marta Bar (home of Sevilla’s largest flamenquín!), but it looked to me as if she were doing a job and not just a hit and run burst of “artistic expression”, so I stopped and asked if she’d been commissioned to paint the Santa Marta. Turns out that a lot of people have been commissioning her to paint their storefronts so that they won’t get vandalised by roving so-called “graffiti artists”, who curiously don’t vandalise Alexandra’s stuff. I guess it’s a sort of professional courtesy?

Alexandra showed me her business cards, which are decorated with pics of her various projects, and it turned out that one – a candy store – was just around the corner, so I also got a snap of that one. Anyhow, we had a nice long chat and it struck me how much more interesting life is when you stop and talk to people instead of just walking by.