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Stencil Nation: Book Review

April 15, 2011

See the post for a book review.

61u6zZdgRXL._SL500_AA300_ Left: Cover of Stencil Nation, ©2011Russell Howze.

Stencil Nation: Graffiti, Community, and Art
Russell Howze, ISBN 13: 978-1-933149-22-6

I have always admitted to being an urban girl. There was that 10-day stint with three bitches in the country years ago, and an even earlier 2-week farm sitting gig for my vet. (It was pre-Emma and I rode the express commuter bus into work every day; had charge of a small herd of sheep, one balletic cow, a flock of chickens, 6 turkeys, and assorted dogs and cats. I also fought off—with a tennis racquet—a bat that flew into the house…I'm not proud, but if I had not done something the dog let me know she would have!)

Some of the things I love about cities include easy access to my favorite cake suppliers (Café Latte), unlimited supply of Haagen-Dazs; a two-block jump from more biking paths than anyone with a desk job can do in a day…

…Add to that list graffiti. Now I'm not talking about gang tags, and I understand that graffiti hurts property values, but I have to say there's some damn fine art (and I mean Fine Art) out there on the brick and concrete walls of Minneapolis. I take photos of it to put in my journal, to remember. I pause to view it when I ride past on my bike. I am amazed at the scope and artistry.

So every so often I indulge my interest in graffiti by picking up a book about it. Russell Howze's Stencil Nation is one such book. The art it documents is varied, from simply stylized word "play" to elaborate portraits and detailed vistas, to images pre-silk-screened on paper and pasted to walls. All use stencils. Stencils reduce the visual information in some respects, while at the same time they organize and amplify the subject's beauty and power—at least in the hands of some artists. You'll see great work in this book, as well as a short tip section on cutting stencils. (As for avoiding police, you are of course on your own.) I recommend this book if art with a statement attracts you.

    • Frank Bettendorf
    • April 17, 2011
    Reply

    Roz,
    I live near railroad tracks so I get to see some gorgeous graffiti in a rolling show almost daily. Cars from Canada appear and lead me to believe that creative graffiti exists beyond borders. Interesting topic.
    Frank

    • Frank Bettendorf
    • April 17, 2011
    Reply

    Roz,
    One of the first books I saw on graffiti was of the decorated underground cars in the New York subway. Fascinating, especially when every square inch is covered. I believe the author was a woman.
    Frank

  1. Reply

    Frank, I love negative space, but the idea of completely covered subway cars sounds cool.
    Roz

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