Rail Train Graffiti

I guess I really like watching the train graffiti painted on the rail-cars, as the ten to twenty trains, some with over one hundred rail cars in tow, pass by my living room window daily. Sure, you might be thinking that that is a lot of noisy trains at all hours of the day, but really it’s not. And you maybe also thinking that living close to a busy set of railway tracks could be a bad thing, but is not that bad. I’ve lived near trains for most of my life so I’m used to it. This is the one thing that Canada seems to display with its demographics, the railway was one of the first modes of transportation, and as a consequence it is where the towns sprang up, right along these highways of steel. Roads came after the migration to the West because it was the railway that opened the West up. So naturally it would make sense to have a 150-plus year old community nestled along the ribbon of steel, and along side the longest river in the Provence: The Fraser River.

Every once in a while, as a train rolls on by, I will stand in front of my window and admire the colorful painted graffiti that decorates the cold steel rails cars. Most of the graffiti is of lettering that adorns the greasy rusted surfaces of the rail-cars that is illegible made-up words, but I presume that these are marks of signatures of those who dare commits such acts of vandalism to broadcast their territory, or show their call sign. But the odd rail car will turn my eye towards it as colours and shapes jump out at me. Today, I saw one painting that must of took the artist several hours to complete, as it depicted a cityscape in the background and gold gleaming lettering spelling “Our City is Dieing!” This I though was clever because the rail car that it was painted on was a rounded tanker car that seemed to be filled with some black liquid, and had hazards warnings placarded at each end.

Another beautiful mural painted on an Alberta Grain Car was a face of a woman whose eyes were looking up but she was facing forwards towards you. Her eyes were hypnotizing as they were painted bright white and gave an impression of mystery. She was painted in hundreds of shades of blue and white, and her hair had golden highlights as each strand metamorphed into clouds and trees. I thought “what a waste” as this rail car will soon be painted over again to hide such labour and talent. But so too is human expression, as it gets painted over and remolded from one form to another. But I need to thank the artist for sharing that image with me, for had it not being painted on the side of that rail car, I may never have seen it, so perhaps this is the best way of sharing art and ideas freely? That image made me happy, feel good and appreciat that we can express ourselves far beyond the blacks, whites and greys: I thank you for that who ever you are.

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