Bad Art


You've seen them in Times Square, in the French Quarter, Fisherman's Wharf, and many other places tourists gather. Alongside the ticket hawkers, smelly Elmo and Spiderman, you see the bad artists making spray can illustrations of planets and science fiction themes. The paintings are all frightfully similar, as are the creators and their setups… cardboard boxes, Krylon and Walmart spray cans, lids and other round objects and newspaper.

These ten minute spray can illustrations don't even make it into the Museum of Bad Art: their standards require 'art' and this is craft. Supposedly invented by Ruben Sadot Hernandez in Mexico City, a small group of actual artists developed the techniques we see on street corners today. Unfortunately, they did not use their powers for good but, rather, perpetuated the idea that art is some kind of trick done by public performers. The faster the better.

A person with little or no talent can apparently make a decent living from the tacky craft, but where do these zombie painters come from? Are they like food cart vendors, meeting in a warehouse every morning then sent to the streets by their overlords with carts full of cardboard and paint? 

Turns out there's a guy named Gerardo Amor, one of Hernandez' associates, who will teach you the craft in three hours for $80. Look him up next time you're in Puerto Vallarta. He'll come right to your hotel… and he has an artistic ID card to prove he's a real artist.

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