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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Faded, Maybe, But Not Useless

posted by on August 31 at 15:38 PM


Last week, when I posted an item announcing that local artists (including NKO) were starting work on a large mural on the side of the Monique Lofts, I asked this question:

Are they covering up all the ghost signage? I sincerely hope not.

Which brought this response from Gurldoggie:

I agree with preserving context when it’s meaningful, but the importance of a decades-old service station ad eludes me. What’s the history you want to preserve? It’s not like it’s a stop on the underground railroad - it’s just a place people used to get their oil changed. To me it doesn’t seem like anything worth preserving.

Except that ghost signs are part of a long history of sign-painting. Advertising may be corporate today, but back in the day, itinerant sign painters would go door to door offering their services to small businesses. That’s how those signs went up. They represent a very cool, mostly lost tradition of independent craftspeople.

Which is exactly what the artists on the mural said they’re thinking when I finally got out to ask them on Friday. They’re not covering up the ghost signs.

We like them. We have histories as sign painters, too. It’s part of the history of this wall, and it adds a layer of depth to the ground.

Photos of the project in process will be appearing here.

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I think I know what Jen is talking about - in a lot of Central American small towns I think the itinerant sign painter is alive and well. Lots of signs are hand-painted directly on buildings, and just about nothing comes pre-printed. So for example the add for Coca Cola has the style of the painter as well as the corporate feel. Or you can tell that the ad for whatever brand of motor oil on one building is painted by the same artist as the one around the corner for ice cream...

Posted by onion | August 31, 2008 3:54 PM


We'd rather not moderate your comments, but off-topic, gratuitously inflammatory, threatening, or otherwise inappropriate remarks may be removed, and repeat offenders may be banned from commenting. We never censor comments based on ideology. Thanks to all who add to the conversation on Slog.

Posted by Dan warmonger Savage | August 31, 2008 6:12 PM

Do they have a "spiritual obligation" to faded paint? Fucking please...

Posted by Jumbalaya | August 31, 2008 8:35 PM

Oh my god, I thought the first quote was the response from the artists, and was so distressed at what amounts to a "who cares?" I am SO glad the artists care. I don't know how to explain to the people who don't care the importance of preserving the remnants of what used to be, just so that we can see that there are and have been (and will be) different ways of living in the world.

Posted by Terry | August 31, 2008 8:52 PM

Why should we preserve the Mona Lisa? It's just a picture of some homely old bitch from Italy.

Gurldoggie seems to be adept at making the rounds on Seattle blogs and being a clueless fuck as loudly as possible.

Posted by EmilyP | September 1, 2008 7:09 PM

It's Wabi Sabi man, Wabi Sabi.

Posted by HuskyQuaker | September 1, 2008 8:29 PM

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Posted by bscln limbdu | September 3, 2008 11:43 PM

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Posted by bscln limbdu | September 3, 2008 11:44 PM

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