A meander down the cool hallways of a well-organized art museum exposes you to the many movements of modern art history. Early experimentation of abstract art flirted with the capabilities of the mind and the emotional experience of being alive was conveyed in the bold gestures of expressionism. Pop Art used everyday commodities to battle the true definition of fine art and Impressionism merely captured the moment. Dadaism criticized the times and revolted against traditional art and Surrealism toyed with the subconscious mind. The art of the past has lasted many decades and now is preserved in museums and private collections throughout the world.
Today an emphasis on ephemeral street art, art temporarily placed in the streets, has taken center stage. Art is still created as a way to represent the times and an idea, but less stress is put on the immediate sale or commission. The main goal of ephemeral street art is the connecting of minds on a large scale. Art is created, or placed, in the streets where its presence is visible until it is removed by weather or authority. Contemporary artists, whether studio, graffiti or tattoo, use the streets as their canvas and attempt to share their ideas with the unsuspecting minds of the public.
Art was once created in a studio with the ultimate goal of landing a prestigious spot on the wall of a gallery, museum or private collection. If the piece failed to meet those expectations, it was often thrown into the streets to later meet the hands of the city waste management. The recent popularity of temporary street art has created an unexpected, but not too surprising, shift where these street artist are now finding their work being snatched from the streets and resold for incredibly high amounts via auctions or on the internet. Street artists are now offered high profile solo shows in prestigious galleries around the world. The walls of A-list celebrities are now scattered with pieces once created and distributed freely in the streets without the intent of a sale.
Each art movement may differ in aesthetics, but all remain loyal to the universal attempt to record the emotions and reactions of the times. Was ephemeral art created to revolt against the conventional art establishments of the galleries and museums? Was it a way to bring awareness to public space and question who has the right to use it? Is this free art a reaction to the economic times? Art movements stem from the ideas of the creative and are fueled by the times they live in. Like most of the past movements, ephemeral street art began as a grass rooted idea and slowly became mainstream, but the underlying goal will always be to provoke a thought in the viewer, whether in the streets or under the bright lights of the galleries.
Bryan Snyder is a Carlsbad resident and artist. Visit www.snyderartdesign.com and www.carlsbadcrawl.com