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Google Places and Platypie

Writing on Property :)

April 2, 2012

Growing up in Washington DC, for years I thought all public art was white and reflected the color of the sky...usually a cool bluish white. Think: Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, even the Capitol and the White House. Sculptures were large white men rendered heroically in bronze, or more white marble.

Real Art was in galleries and museums.

Then one day in the very early 80s a marvelous face showed up high on the side of a building on the corner of Calvert Street and Connecticut Avenue just a few blocks from our home in Washington, DC. It was beautiful,   brightly colored and absolutely my favorite work of art on the planet at that time. And it was lit at night! My response was to hire a young man to model for me and sneak up on the roof of the adjoining building and photograph him with this giant Marilyn Monroe face.

iconic WWII tag that soldiers saw and wrote all over Europe.

The iconic WWII tag that soldiers saw and wrote all over Europe.

Marilyn was a commissioned mural, not graffiti, but that night, climbing up the back of the building whet my appetite for someday making a contribution to a public space or property in the form of my own art.

During this same period, trips to New York City and rides on the subway were what first introduced me to tagging and graffiti...and when color was used I was definitely intrigued.

After all, it was all free to look at and followed a historical tradition of wall painting dating back around 30,000 years. Anyway, I think what I like definitely falls somewhere between graffiti and a mural. (The nine foot tall head on the opening frame of the slideshow is a piece I like very much).

Near Cabbagetown in Atlanta, GA

I am not overly fond of “bomb” type tagging.

Until I hung out on Castle Hill in Austin,Texas the dream of writing or painting on a public wall lay dormant, although I enjoyed many expressions of public writing and murals over the years.

Walking around some of the really delightful works on the hill, I realized how much I wanted to try my hand at making my own mark.

As a source I decided to use part of a funky watercolor/pen-and-ink drawing I did right before I left New York City in 2009. (LIttle girls with negative emotions... yes, I was nervous about uprooting my life.)

After a trip to Jerry’s Artarama for a few colors of Montana spray paint, some nozzles and some spray adhesive, I was set to make art.

We visited Castle Hill a few more times, and, although I had my canvas bag and cans with me, I just couldn’t do it.

Finally, the day before we left Austin I picked my spot. It was now or never! A few yards from a No Trespassing Sign, I put down my bag, got out my cans and set to work. It is ever so much harder than it looks... especially using spray paint in a light breeze.

First, with the blue paint wafting gently in my face, I blocked in her turquoise dress. It looked so easy when I watched others do this.

Now for the orange dots on her dress. Using a smaller nozzle, I held the can close and achieved some nice round, orange polka dots.

Then came the stencil lettering. In the future I will cut my own letters and set them in a larger poster board.

Final touch-ups on the dress...
...and isn’t she lovely. Her name is Angst.

I will do this again, and I will get better with practice. My next girl will be named Bored. (You can see her in the watercolor above.) She will be a little more feminine and I will have a surer hand with my can drawing. I think they make a fat paint stick for outlines.

It was smile-from-ear-to-ear fun to do this.

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I want to let you guys know that the pics and writing you guys sent is so amazing and very much appreciated by me!!!  Thank you so much for sharing it.  Hope you're having a good time and it was so nice to meet you:)  Peggy-Did you get a chance to paint graffiti downtown off of West Lynn (Austin) before you left?  Bernie-Thanks again for showing me some computer "how to" stuff.

Take care

Karen @ Pecan Grove 

Great pictures, I love Angst!  Where exactly is it and I will go by and take her picture so you can see what she looks like now.

Miss you both!


I love this!  So much fun to see you expanding your artwork!  And so great to see Marilyn again!  I lived a block away for the two years we were neighbors in DC - and did not know each other! - and I loved her.  I still describe where I usede to live as right by the Marilyn Monroe mural.  Happy trails!


Peggy, Thanks for posting this very cool slide show. Good first effort, i think though it may be easier if you draw it out first, then try to spray it in.
When i was in art school I made a long series of poem/paintings. I spread canvas on my studio's walls and painted away and then inserted poetry.

I also collaborated with a young man that oddly looked exactly like me-he was a terrific artist and we painted well together, sadly we have lost touch.

Thanks for reminding me of the medium-i miss the poetry/paintings and you have inspired me to perhaps go back to the ideas i originally had. I do not have the guts though to paint near a no trespassing sign. You go girl!

Love and miss you and kisses to Bernie


I support every type of graffiti.  And I do remember the Marilyn wall.  Keep on painting!  Stock up on spray paint and whatever other paraphernalia you need, and find every opportunity to make the world more exciting and beautiful.


This is wonderful. 


Places and Platypie gets better and better every posting!  I love your graffiti adventures, your first painting and can’t wait for more


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