A local street artist is populating San Pedro with black and white cats – cat faces and full-body felines. The first one I noticed is in the alley between the Vons on 25th Street and the strip mall on Western near Starbucks and the South Shores Meat shop. Then I found one on North Harbor Blvd at the freeway entrance. Now I’m noticing them all over town – on a high wall near the pumpkin patch/Christmas tree lot at 9th & Western, at the base of a tiled column support in front of the Albertson’s on Western, on a short wall at the Cocos/Wells Fargo parking lot also on Western, to name a few. They’re two- and three-color, stenciled and spray-painted, and are usually near the base of the wall or building. Some are sitting up and look as if they’re watching something on the floor, others are full, straight-on faces.
Graffiti or street art – the debate is not new. Artful expression on random buildings, walls, and sidewalks probably started as cave drawings and has evolved from there. As illustrated in the 2010 documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” street art has a strong fan base, and the works of artists like Banksy can be as identifiable as the Masters.
Is it graffiti or art? Webster’s dictionary defines graffiti as, “…markings, slogans or drawings written, spray-painted or sketched on buildings, sidewalks and the like.” Art is defined as, “the quality, production, expression or realm…of what is more than of ordinary significance.” Both definitions apply here. A recent discussion on a local Facebook page showed that there’s still a great divide on the subject. Some comments demonstrated appreciation for the artistic qualities and others slammed the cats as vandalism.
Regardless, this mystery artist is adding an element of cool to neighborhoods throughout town. I look forward to seeing what he/she will come up with next. Keep your eyes open and see for yourself.