Dear Street Artist in Downtown Victoria,
Since I didn’t get the chance in person, I thought I’d write you a heartfelt response to your kind and generous words. However, I totally understand if you couldn’t give a rat’s patootie about what I have to say.
Let’s be real for a minute, who doesn’t love a good street artist or performer? From the painted “statues” in Florence to the magicians in Fremantle to the steel drum players in the Bahamas, free live entertainment is pretty much always a win. So needless to say, I was pretty excited when I saw you recreating famous works in chalk alongside the main street in downtown Victoria. So much so that I immediately grabbed my camera and started snapping photos of your work, masterpieces surrounding your lean frame, the sun glistening off your chalk nub, etc., etc. It was then that you so gracefully turned toward me, looked in my general direction (not directly into my eyes but I get it, they are both piercing and hypnotizing) and told me very sternly to “F$@* off”.
(At this point I would like you to imagine the sound of a record scratching since this is a blog and I’m not tech savvy enough to add real sound effects)
Let me get this straight: you’re the one in a public space drawing in chalk and I, also in a public space, am taking a fully legal photograph of, yes, you guessed it, a public space. How about you give me, oh I don’t know, TWO SECONDS to finish reading your sweet plea for donations (also written in chalk… in a public space) and then find out what a generous person I can be before verbally assaulting me. Listen dude, I worked as a waitress for close to six years; I’m all about tipping culture and giving compensation where it is deserved. Heck, if you had played a catchy beat on an overturned bucket with a chopstick and half a chicken bone from the trash, I probably would’ve thrown you at least a fiver. And yet there you were, magnificent recreations of famous works in chalk and all, telling me to “F$@* off”.
Maybe you had a bad day, maybe the sun was in your eyes, maybe you thought I really was just another muggle taking pictures of the fruits of your labor only to walk away without giving you any recognition in the form of cash or even a simple “hey, nice job”, but you didn’t know for sure. And shouting expletives at me most definitely didn’t earn you any extra cash and/or smiles.
Of course, I couldn’t say any of this to you at the time because you tore me down so fiercely and caught me off guard, leaving me stunned and walking away like a scolded puppy with my tail between my legs (disclaimer: I don’t really have a tail).
So after some time to think, here are the lessons I’ve learned from our encounter:
1. Ask first before taking a picture of artwork in public if the artist is present…even if the medium is chalk and a sidewalk.
2. Street artists/performers are also people with real feelings (I’m pretty sure I already knew this…).
3. You are a cottonheaded ninnymuggins.
In conclusion, you were mean to me and I didn’t like it. I hope we don’t cross paths again and I’m telling Monet, Vermeer and Van Gogh that you are a copycat. Also, I’m rubber and you’re glue.
P.S. These guys in the Bahamas didn’t seem to have any problem with me…