I missed the opening of the Don’t Ban the Can exhibition at 696 because I was at the launch of ‘I Art Sydney Road’ (the exhibition title with the least grammar this year). 696 is also participating in the ‘I Art Sydney Road’ with two paintings in their window. I won’t be reviewing ‘I Art Sydney Road’ because I am participating in it; exhibiting a still life painting at Mia Moda, 179 Sydney Road.
At that launch of ‘I Art Sydney Road’ Mayor Joe Caputo of Moreland, was talking enthusiastic about graffiti. He was especially after briefly visiting the Don’t Ban the Can party. He told me that there was only one complaint about the party. “There is always one,” he said. This is in contrast to the media and police speculation about trouble before the event. (See my recent entries: Don’t Ban the Can and Chill.)
The Don’t Ban the Can exhibition in the gallery room at 696 features a large number of artists and art at affordable prices. There are some familiar artists in the exhibition, including Pierre Lloga, Maxcat and Phibs. The exhibition has a surprising variety of media and techniques, not just aerosol works and stencils. There are also photographs, drawings and paintings. I was particularly impressed with Kid Zoom’s painted crushed spray can with its crazy forms and impressive detail.
Many of the works feature sculptural elements. Happy created a deep framed painting combined with a sculptural, paint-sniffing spray-can character. The issue of huffing (paint and solvent sniffing) was on the mind of many of the artists in the exhibition. Huffing is a far more serious medical and social problem than petty vandalism and yet it is not being addressed with draconian legislation.
Much of the art in the exhibition included polemical political statements about Victoria’s anti-graffiti legislation. Braddock stated it clearly in his painting a simplified figure with mask and gloves says in a speech balloon: “You can’t ban culture”. Banning a culture is a crime against humanity.
On the way to the exhibition I stopped to talk to four guys busy painting a piece by the railway line in Coburg. I asked if they wanted anything to do a piece: “just permission” was their reply.