I ride the Red Line to work every damn day, and when I'm not shooting birds at pigs or playing Scabble with my phone, I like to look at the urban art along the way.
I've posted many of these to Instagram and Facebook, but I don't get a chance to talk about them much there.
Some people think that graffiti is awful and ugly, a blight on the landscape, or malicious destruction of property. I suppose in some cases it is, when it consists of obscenities or random splotches of paint. Some of it is repetitive and can get a little boring, like the bazillion "Cool Disco Dan" tags that appeared like weeds around town in the 80s and 90s. But even those tags were fun to spot -- way more fun than reading billboards.
Some of the tags are downright beautiful! These two shots are just outside the tunnel north of the Silver Spring station. I can't make out the names, but I love the beautiful color and ornate styling.
Some are rather whimsical. These two shots are part of a large Top Cat themed piece at Brookland, featuring Fancy Fancy, Benny the Ball, and Top Cat himself.
I liked this one because it seemed to be framed by the greenery, like the artist planned it that way.
This Joker is quite scary to me; I'm impressed by how sinister it is.
Graffiti is by its nature fleeting. The urban art changes and shifts; it gets washed away or painted over. Cool Disco Dan is pretty much gone, replaced by Pear and Soma and Borf. But some of the art has survived for years, especially the memorials. This Michael Jackson tribute has been on the southbound side of Brookland since his death in 2009.
The shoes, the hat, the black and white color scheme... you don't even need the "RIP MJ" to know who this commemorates.
This one is my favorite. It's right next to the Top Cat mural and memorializes Sean Taylor, the Washington Redskin free safety who was murdered in 2007. This memorial has been untouched since it was painted. The burgundy and gold have faded in the last five years, but the art remains, respected by the artists and appreciated by the viewers, watching from the Red Line.