While we wait for the City and Clear Channel to come to terms with a regulatory agreement separating fine art from commercial art, the flow of enterprise waits for no one.

(Everyone consider a small prayer for Judge Marcus on October 2, the next trial date in the ongoing suit, Clear Channel Outdoor v City of Portland at the Multnomah County Courthouse in downtown Portland, Oregon.)

Charlie Alan Kraft, illustrator of monsters and dead toys for adults (I think) has painted up an abandoned building on North Williams Avenue. The grotesque cartoons were laid out in spray paint in July, and recently filled in with housepaint, covering two sides of the one-story building, located on a relatively busy intersection. The artwork is unfinished.

Kraft’s web site is included as some sort of signature to the piece. That’s interesting – and to me a “good enough” line in the sand to determine this artwork is commercial art – and not fine art. The addition of a URL, signage to visit a web site dedicated to selling Kraft’s artwork, makes the work advertising. If there is a cost associated with creating commercial artwork, the City attorney should dun Kraft immediately.

Part of Michael Marcus’ dilemma in deciding Clear Channel Outdoor v City of Portland is to evaded the undergrad morass of “what is art?” There’s just no advantage to determining this – it’s all art. His question is – how do we maintain two separate business models, one for commercial art, aka advertising, and fine art, aka mural artwork?

Clearly Kraft’s artwork is designed to sell to a youngish, arts gateway crowd which affiliates more with Boing Boing than with RACC. His attitude – I am guessing – is a shrug – “You don’t like it? Tear it down!”

This post-RACC business model is renegade and springs from graffiti not art school, though it’s commonly incorporated by art students and gadflies everywhere. And the style works for Kraft and others who make it quick and dirty. Others, contemplative or complex or non-disposable, are mown over by the style and by the fine+commercial hybrid business model. You see – art can’t be regulated, but it can be demolished.


Standing Up for Art – Mural Painter Intervenes in Clear Channel Lawsuit, Portland Mercury

Multnomah County Court Docket