Art With Dude Appeal: Rock Carvings On Grimes Canyon Road

Art With Dude Appeal: Rock Carvings On Grimes Canyon Road
L.J. Williamson

"Best Art I Saw All Week" is a new feature of the blog in which one of our contributors writes about one particular L.A. artwork he or she saw in a museum, in a gallery, on the streets or anywhere else. If you see a work that you like, feel free to submit your own a post by uploading a photo to the LA Weekly Flickr page and sending a link to the photo and 200 words on why you love the artwork to arts@laweekly.com.

Taking the back roads scenic route to Ojai, I rounded a bend on Grimes Canyon Road and made an unexpected discovery: a collection of carvings in the sandy rock embankment.

The subject matter had the feeling of dude appeal: snakes, dragons, mushrooms, penises. Maybe some sword-and-sorcery nerds too law-abiding to wield a spraypaint can found an outlet for the landscapes of their imaginations. The site beautifully fused the lawless spirit of street art with the rustic appeal of a canyon.

Rarely do artifacts of street art take the form of sculpture, or feel so harmonious with their environment. And it wouldn't be convincing to describe this creation as "destructive graffiti vandalism." Time and the forces of erosion will eventually wash these carvings off the face of the soft hillside, and likely much faster than any urban spraypaint would fade, so the feeling that these images could crumble away after a good hard rain just adds to their sense of evanescence.

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It would be difficult to discover the identity of the artist(s), but I imagine a 19-year-old boy, who may by now have moved well past the whim that moved him to spend a night or six scraping at the pebbly canyon sand. Like the impulses of youth, these carvings too will have only a brief and fleeting life span.

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