Authors: Eric Walters
Tags: #JUV003000, #JUV039060, #JUV039220
ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS
Copyright Â© 2013 Eric Walters
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Walters, Eric, 1957-
Tagged [electronic resource] / Eric Walters.
Issued also in print format.
I. Title. II. Series: Orca soundings (Online)
33 2013Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â j
813'.54Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
First published in the United States, 2013
Library of Congress Control Number:
A graffiti artistâthe Wizâtakes on the city and the mayor in a fight to save the heart of the community.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover photography by Karlis Dravins
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I'd like to thank Deadboyâ
a true artist, a deep thinker
and a real gentleman.
“Watch your head,” I said as I pulled the wire up to enlarge the hole in the fence.
Julia slipped through the opening.
“You always bring us to the loveliest places.”
“It will be lovely.”
“You've seen it, Ian?” Oswald asked as he followed behind us.
“No, but they're always good, so I don't know why this one wouldn't be.”
We slid down the concrete slope of the little waterway. At one point it had been a real river with mud banks and plants and fish, and it would have twisted and turned. Now it was as straight as an arrow, trapped between two concrete banks, with no life, more like a sewer than a stream.
“How do you even know there's something down here?” Julia asked.
“It came to my Twitter feed.”
She shook her head sadly. “I can't believe you spend so much time on there.”
can't believe that you haven't signed up.”
“I haven't got time to waste on it.”
“It's not a waste. It led me here, didn't it?”
“As I said, it's a waste of time. I'm not seeing anything except nothing, so I stand by my comment,” she said.
“It's under the bridge.”
“That makes sense,” Oswald added. “That's out of the way, hidden from the road and prying eyes.”
I thought I was starting to see something. There was more and more andâ
“Wow,” I said.
There it was, a painted cliff with a flock of sheep at the top, two tumbling down, one at the bottom, half of it painted right to the waterline of the real river and the rest of it underwater and unseen. Two more sheep were floating downstream, just their legs showing. There was one sheep at the top with a word balloon saying,
Didn't anybody learn to swim?
“Well, what do you think now?” I asked Julia.
“It certainly is big.”
“I wasn't asking you to measure it but to appreciate it.”
“Ian, at this point all I can appreciate is that it's big,” she replied.
I turned to Oswald. “What's your opinion?”
“She's rightâit is big. But in my opinion, it's pretty good.”
“Pretty good? It's beautiful, amazing and incredible,” I said.
“This might be the best one. It is a real piece of art,” Oswald agreed.
“And what exactly do you know about art?” Julia challenged.
“I know what I like.”
“You like lasagna, but that doesn't make it art.”
“First off, I love lasagna, and second off, there is an art to cooking. Edible art may be my favorite kind.”
“He's right,” I agreed. “Food can be art. There was this sculptor who only used raw meat.”
“My butcher does that,” Oswald said. “You should see the display case in his deli.”
“No, I'm serious. It was at some fancy museum in London. He made these sculptures out of meat, and then the meat rotted over the next month, and people watched the changing sculptures.”
“That is seriously disgusting!” Julia protested.
I laughed. “I imagine it didn't smell so good. Lots of people protested against it.”
“I would have protested that too,” Oswald added.
“You would have?” Julia asked.
“Sure, that was a waste of good food that could have been eaten.”
“Typical Oswald, thinking with your stomach.”
“Typical Julia, feeling with your head.”
It was rare now for the tension between them to rise to the surface like this, but it still did. Friends who had become boyfriend and girlfriend trying to become just friends againâit didn't necessarily work so well. I kept that in mind whenever I thought that maybe Julia and I could be more than friends. It wasn't worth the risk.
“Beauty and art are in the eye of the beholder,” I said, breaking the silence. “And according to this beholder, this was produced by an artist.”
“Do you think it's the same person doing all of these?” she asked.
“Obviously,” Oswald said.
“Maybe it is to you, the art
, but not to us common folk,” Julia said.
“Even if you can't tell by the style, you can certainly tell by the tag,” I said.
I walked over and stood at the bottom right-hand corner of the creation. There was the big, stylized WIZ, written inside the outline of a sheep.
“So he thinks he's a wizard,” Julia said sarcastically.
“He?” Oswald asked. “How do you know it's a guy doing this?”
“Isn't that obvious?”
“Not to me,” I said before Oswald could. It probably was a guy, but I still wanted to know why she thought so.
“It's simple. Males, whether they're dogs or humans, all want to mark their territory. One will raise up his back leg, and the other, the arm holding the can of spray paint.”
“So, let me get this straight. To you this is the human equivalent of a dog relieving itself on a post?” I questioned.
“More or lessâand it even explains his tag name. Basically, he's taking a
on the wall.”
Oswald laughed. “Now
was creative. Here, take a picture of me with it.”
He handed me his phone and ran over to stand in the middle of the mural.
“It's hard to get you and it in the same frame,” I said.
“Go over to the other side of the creek. Use the rocks to get over,” he commanded.
There was a series of rocks littering the little stream. If I jumped from one to the other, it looked like it might be possible to get across. Maybe. I hesitated.
“You can do it,” Oswald said. “But Ian, be careful. I wouldn't want you to fall inâat least, not while you're holding my phone. Hurry up.”
I was going to do it, but I wasn't going to hurry. I moved carefully, jumping from rock to rock until I reached the other cement bank.
“Say cheese,” I said as I aimed the camera.
He smiled and held out his hands, gesturing to the painting like he was a supermodel selling perfume.
“Now take one of me right down here by the tag. Use the zoom to get me and it.”
I fiddled around until I had him and the tag in the screen. “Nice zoom on the camera phone,” I said. “Got it again.”
“Thanks. This piece is fantastic, if I do say so myself.”
“You're acting like you're the one who painted it,” Julia scolded.
“Of course I didn't, but that doesn't mean I don't want to have my picture taken with it,” he protested. “Did you design or build the Eiffel Tower?”
“Don't be ridiculous.”
“Then why is there a picture in your room of you and the tower?” he asked.
“I was in Paris, and it's famous.”
“When it was first put up, it was part of an advertisement for the World's Fair in Paris, and there were demands from Parisians that it be torn down because it was considered an eyesore,” Oswald said.
“He's right,” I said. “Mrs. Johnson told us all about it in art class.”
“Fine,” she said. “But it did go on to become an icon. I'll agree that this is art if millions of people come to see it and have their pictures taken with it over the next hundred years.”
“That won't happen. I doubt it will be here in a hundred hours.”
“Why, will it wash off in the next rain?”
“It's permanent paint, but only permanent until the City sends a crew to paint over it,” I explained.
“I heard the one with the dogs is gone already,” Oswald added.
“The doggies are gone?” Julia asked. She sounded genuinely disappointed.
one you thought was art?” I asked.
She shrugged. “I just like dogs. It was cute.”
“And sheep aren't cute?” Oswald asked. “I personally love sheepâ¦as part of a balanced meal.”
“Always with the stomach,” she said.
“Aside from the quality of the art, I can't help wondering how he did this painting,” I said.
“Seems pretty straightforward to me,” Oswald said. “A ladder and a couple of long planks from one side of the creek to the other, that's all.” He paused. “Well, at least that's what I was thinkingâ¦I don't knowâ¦that might work, or maybe it wouldn't.”
“No, that could work,” I agreed.
“It's just strange when art involves a ladder,” said Julia.
“Lots of famous artists used ladders,” Oswald said.
“Name one,” Julia demanded.
“What makes you think he used a ladder?” she questioned.
“Everybody knows about that. He used a ladder and some scaffolding. How do you think he painted the ceiling of that church in Italy?”
“Churchâ¦wait, do you mean the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican?”
“No, I'm pretty sure it's Italy,” Oswald said. He turned slightly and winked at me. He was trying to get Julia going.
in Italy, and it wasn't Rembrandt, it was Michelangelo!”
“Are you sure? I'm pretty sure that Angelo guy is a character in
. Isn't he Mario's brother?”