“BE MINDFUL,” read the large letters on the side of the highway on my way to Launceston, Tasmania. Of course, it’s a Catch-22. They beg you to keep your eyes on the road, while demanding that you take your eyes off the road to see them.
Part advice, part art, part disgusted farmer who is tired of repairing his fence, I imagine.
The words of wisdom, like a Ceti Alpha eel, burrowed into my mind, causing me to “be mindful” of the other art in Australia I came across. Here’s what I found:
Like the famous English street artist, Banksy, this road stenciler got busy while the cops weren’t watching. Or maybe in Australia, this is a legit street marking. “Danger: Mexican Zombie Banditos Ahead,” perhaps? Or, more specifically, “Danger: Mexican Zombie Banditos Falling From The Sky (As Filmed By J.J. Abrams With All His Damned Lens Flare) Ahead.”
Burgaz Wit Attitudes
“WHAK” is the onomatopoeic sound effect plastered across this wall of cartoon art at a restaurant called Burger Joint. I just kept hearing Ice Cube in my head, “WHAK the police coming straight from the underground. A young burga got it cause I’m brown.” (Side note: their eggplant/haloumi burger is pretty damn amazing. And messy. So when I finish… bring the yellow tape!)
Interesting piece that was part of this year’s Sculpture By The Sea at Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach. This one is by Australian sculptor Jimmy Rix. Maybe it is a commentary on the ramifications of violent pop culture on indigenous youth? Possibly it reflects the socioeconomic realities of multigenerational households? Either way, no wonder they’re always trying to tie their kangaroos down, sport.
The Jailhouse Grill
What the…? I ran into violent art quite often in Australia: zombie banditos, cop-killing sandwiches, gun-toting roos. No surprise then, that I also stumbled across a restaurant called The Jailhouse Grill, adorned by such pleasant artwork as above for your dining pleasure. (Side note: in Australia, you can still sometimes see the word “jail” spelled as “gaol.” I’m told it’s the antiquated British spelling. I believe them, since Australia is an antique British jail.)
Ah, finally something non-violent. Street art by some artist named Lister. Weird how it starts off erotic at the right then gets derailed by the large waterfowl between her legs. I wonder if Lister was finished and showed it to the patron who commissioned it. Did the ensuing conversation proceed thusly?
LISTER: Ta da!
PATRON: What the hell is this?
LISTER: It’s what you asked for.
PATRON: No it isn’t!
LISTER: Yes, let me check my notes of our original conversation.
(Lister removes scrap of paper, colorfully smudged with spray paints.)
LISTER: See? Right here. “Hot girl riding a big black…” Oh, wow. My bad. Totally thought that “i” was a “u.”
PATRON: I want my money back or I’ll see to it you rot in gaol!