Street painting can mean many things to many people but there is one concept that I feel captures the essence of this art form. That concept is ‘connective performance’. What I mean by this is simply that street painting is a performance art which allows the artist and the viewer to connect with one another through the visual dialogue of the creative process.
Street painting really is reliant on viewer interaction. To make a street painting and not have an audience of some sort, even if it is just a few people, really is not allowing the magic of the medium to do its thing. Not too many people get to participate with visual artists while they are in the process of creating their works, but street painting allows that process to be witnessed and shared. It truly is fascinating to see artists make marks that suddenly become a recognizable form or shape, perhaps a flower or a face. The process of making creative decisions is certainly an enigma and what person do you know who doesn’t stop when they see this going on right before their eyes? They can’t seem to help it – it draws them in, they want to experience the process, whether they know it or not.
Usually what transpires when a viewer has stopped to watch the street painter perform, is a dialogue will ensue. They may want to know about the image, the chalk, the surface or the artist. An exchange is typical and the viewer will have walked away with some new information, idea, thought or even emotion and, perhaps, the street painter may have experienced the same. That’s really how it all works.
So the street painter has opened themselves up to the sharing of the process – to be in an environment with no walls or restrictions, just letting it all hang out – allowing a connection from themselves to the passing viewer. It’s tough to be openly vulnerable for an artist but the street painters do it time and time again, creating magic by performing the selfless act of exposing their strengths and weaknesses to the world at large.