“Cornered” 28 x 31 cm, a drawing coloured pencils, October 2020

When I travel I’m always on the look out for interesting street art. I find this arresting piece on the corner of a dilapidated wall in Milan. The title “Cornered” relates to the figure’s physical placement on a corner as well as referring to the tense situation she dramatizes. Note “a disagio” on the top left of the yellow rectangle. It means discomfort.

Street art soon weathers, fades and tears. It has a very limited life span. Now and then I find a piece that I’d like to give another kind of life to – by making a drawing of it. Most of my street art collection is from sources I found in Paris including “Rebel Rebel” which I drew in 2018.

“Rebel Rebel” a drawing of a weathered political poster. Coloured pencils, 250 x 300 mm. March 2018

You can view nearly two decades of my street art drawings here. Not only is it the art itself that I am interested in but where it is placed and the (often decaying) conditions of the surrounding surfaces. While it makes its mark on urban structures it also marks time until eventually it vanishes without a trace – as indeed, in the end, do we!

Afterword: When I posted “Cornered” on Facebook, a reader identified where the original image had come from. The actress was Betty Lou Gerson from the 1949 film “The Red Menace”.

11 thoughts on “Cornered

  1. lauraslittlecorner

    What a nice surprise, this new drawing, because you show the ability to shift to an (apparently) completely different range of colours. And of subject. Which zone of Milan was, that? I love the colour of the wall, really love it, as well as the shining, in the very opposite corner, of the wood of the door, so balancing and contrasting with the monochrome of the woman (the Lady with a gun, sort of subtitle?). At the same way, the grey plaster balances her shoulder. Love the particular of the blue writing appearing from the plaster. Well, and, reading the post, I went browsing the other your “Street Art” drawings and I really hope that that poor cat missing has been found and rescued! Really. See how art is? It conveys emotions. Thanks for these posts and for sharing your art.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hello Laura. Where was I? I had been roaming around San Lorenzo Maggiore and then wandered north from there. Looking at my map of Milan now, I think I was on Corso di Porta Ticinese or V P Capuccio. There were cool shops and cafes around but it was a bit seedy at the same time. A man approached me to tell me to be careful with my camera I was holding by my side. He said it was an area with a lot of crime. I thanked him and then held on to my camera with more care.
      I agree with you that street art conveys emotions. Urban environments can be heartless and cold. But street art is very human and can certainly add warmth, humour and thoughtfulness to an otherwise sterile environment.

  2. Tamara Culp

    This was more interesting than just because your art is always interesting to me. I’m from Denver where the street art is many and varied. I have never used any of the photos in my art because I felt I would be reproducing someone else’s art. Is this not the case? I have some I would so love to use. Denver means a lot to me and I would love to use it in my art.

  3. juliepodstolski Post author

    That’s a great question, Tamara. If I was only drawing the street art and nothing else then that is all I would be reproducing. But no, involved is the surrounding so I believe I am making original work. That is only my opinion and you are free to disagree with me. In the past I have tried to find the street artists on-line and then get in touch with them to show them what I’ve done. They’ve always been pleased to see their works in my drawings. But I cannot always identify them. In this case I haven’t been able to find out who the artist was. I suppose in this piece you could say that the street artist used an image from a 1940s crime film. And now I use the image from a street wall. So – from film to street art to drawing.

      1. juliepodstolski Post author

        Terrific, Tamara! Food for thought is a wonderful kind of food to share, don’t you think?! If you do some future work on this street art subject, you will be a rare bird indeed especially in the coloured pencil world. I don’t know any other cp artists who find inspiration from this subject. But I’m happy if somebody points them out to me if they are out there.

  4. anna warren portfolio

    It was a surprise to me to see this pop up in my email feed – for some reason I was expecting more street scenes. Of course, it is all part of the street scenery! Its a powerful image, clearly a story to be told. With reference to the comment above, from the artist who worries about reproducing someone else’s art, I think this is simply taking it to the next stage. The crinkles and folds of the paper on the wall are so lovingly captured, and the inclusion of the surroundings take it beyond its original conception. As you say, the image of the woman would have come from a 1940s film noir, translated into street art, and now transformed again by you. In reality, this is now conceptual art! (I like the pun of it being an arresting image – which of course it is!)

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi Anna, yes this is all part of the street scenery. As you say, I’m thinking about the BODY OF WORK for the exhibition now so want variety of subject matter. I may do another piece of street art but on the whole expected to find more street art than I did in Italy. What was there was more often than not in a terrible state of disrepair. And a lot of it was religious in nature; Jesus, Mary and saints! (Perhaps that isn’t surprising in a Catholic country. I found the same to be the case in Poland.)
      I was relieved to read in your letter to me that you didn’t love the new wordpress either. My posts will never be more than simple in the extreme – block for paragraph, block for image. I won’t have the courage to try anything fancy.

      1. anna warren portfolio

        I’ve just found this – a month late! Interesting that most of the street art is religious, that seems quite counter-intuitive somehow. And interesting it’s in poor condition, maybe the street artists have moved to a different form of expression. That makes this one more valuable, in terms of coming upon such a great piece.

      2. juliepodstolski Post author

        My theory is that authorities have cracked down on street art. I found less of it in Paris than I used to find in the past. Perhaps penalties are harsher if one is caught out. Come to think of it I remember that in November 2018 there had been big storms (winds and flooding) across Italy just before we got there. That could attribute to the awful state the works were in.

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