“From one extreme to another” defines my 2020 so far. As do the initials of my friend Wilhelmina Twinkletoes Forestbather. (We’re at home all these hours, and we’re allowed to make people up. FYI.)
From early January to early March, all I did was…keep going. An elder relative’s long hospitalization in the state next door had me juggling two jobs, two households, and that crisis. Let’s just say time was spent on trains back and forth. That’s fortunately past, and in the current wider chaos, I can’t even cross the state line and come back. Understood.
That’s the background to this Uplift, an artist who added a lot of fun and eye-pleasure to many hours on many trains, BEK. Or BEK 86. I’ve tried to look up the right way to introduce BEK, and I’m going to go with Graffiti Letter Artist. No idea who BEK is, but their work on buildings, track walls, and freight train cars became the best part of many stressed, tired commutes. Looking for a new BEK. Spotting a new BEK! BEK fan!!
BEK’s letters sometimes angle sharply, sometimes bubble. They always seem cheerful and eager to connect with eyes. I like the letters’ strong “feet” and the way they take up their space. And I love BEK’s colors. They get attention from BEK and deserve attention. Melon orange darkening upward to rich red. Lavender and purple. A stunning sort of pearly blue-white. Simple black and white with turquoise, but also some complex combos.
I took these two and other photos through the dirty windows of a moving MBTA commuter rail train and am irrationally proud of them. BEK’s Instagram gallery was clearly NOT taken through dirt while in motion and displays the real Beauty.
Like body art, graffiti art has a past and a mixed reputation. To some, it’s putting images where no images should be. I’m not a property owner, so I can’t comment on that. In the last few years, I’ve learned a lot about graffiti and street art from student papers.
(The college where I teach dates from the era that loved concrete, and, apparently, felt windowless, cinder-block classrooms in shades of white with fluorescent lights were a great idea for humans. I’ve always felt the best thing would be to give these artists one wall in every room, and then just walk away and leave them to it. I write about real estate, and I can tell you, accent walls are Out for 2020, but this is an emergency.)
I find Creativity in places not intended for it fascinating. I like these artists’ engagement with spaces and surfaces not really made to be looked at or enjoyed. This art stands up to weather, and even to rules, and I like that, too. My BEK search has made me see the talent, effort, humor, and Creativity they’ve got going on.
The hope of getting back to seeing BEK out there uplifts me now as much as seeing BEK did then.