Man Paints Weird Shadows Everywhere, Confuses Everyone
Kylie Perry August 30th 2017 Weird
One of the great things about art is its total subjectivity. As the old saying goes, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." That holds true not just for the visual aesthetics of a given piece but also for its meaning to the individual viewer.
But does all art have to have a meaning? What if the artist's intention is simply to add some creative whimsy to city streets? Street artist Damon Belanger was commissioned by the city of Redwood, California, to do just that.
Bringing ordinary objects to life
Take a closer look at some of the shadows you see around Redwood. See anything funny? Well, if you're looking at one of the 20 shadows Belanger was commissioned to paint, you should notice that they don't exactly match up with the objects casting them. A normal mailbox becomes a cartoonish monster growling for your mail. "The shadows give regular mundane objects a lively spirit so people can have a little fun in their everyday life," Belanger told the San Mateo Daily Journal.
Belanger created the stencils for his street shadow project at his home in the San Francisco Bay area before making the trip to downtown Redwood City. When he arrived at the site of whichever piece he was working on, he would draw the shadow out in chalk and then paint the design on the sidewalk. Belanger used a dark gray paint to give everyday objects you'd expect to see on the street shadows you'd never expect.
What does a shadow mean?
"Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see." It's a safe bet that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not referring to street art when he spoke this quote. But, like art, its meaning is subjective and there's no reason we can't apply it to anything we like. Applied to Belanger's street art, this nugget of wisdom drives home the idea that life and reality itself are subjective and we may not see everything the way others see it.
Perhaps a bit more open to interpretation is this quote attributed to the Buddha: "We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves." Here we can swap out "pure" for "innocent," and consider Belanger's street art from the minds of babes. Just take a step back to appreciate the shadows with your inner child.
Art can just be innocent and fun
Belanger's art doesn't have to speak to you in hushed tones and it's not meant to unravel some introspective riddle. If it's gotten you to look at things a little differently or brought a quick smile to your face, then the artist has done his job. "The shadow art has allowed me to bring out a more whimsical side with my art and allows me to play with shadows," said Belanger. "It was surprising when I got notified that they had chose me because I suspected that they had gotten a lot of great portfolios sent in so I wasn't sure what I was up against."
Passersby do a double take at a monkey on a pedestal, probably because they're expecting to see the shadow cast by a parking meter instead. A father, oblivious, walks with his daughter, who sees the magic of flower shadows cast by bike racks. Redwood City's shadows may confuse and excite anyone paying enough attention and with enough innocent joy in his or her heart.