Street Art & Self-Love

Street Art Break in VR with Tom

Tom Nickel
4 min readFeb 21


Author Selfie with, “Self-Love,” Abel Jackson, Street View

Self-Love is a delicate thing. How do you do it without veering into Self-Absorbed?

I think Abel Jackson nailed it; or rather, painted it on a very large wall behind the Wooden Robot Brewery at 416 East 36th Street in Charlotte, North Carolina. Above the faces are the words:

Hear, Imagine, and Be Love

He had been thinking about the idea of self-love in his own life. For the mural, he drew two friends — one listening to music and another imagining or maybe meditating .

The little girl, his niece, is showing us what it’s like to be, “in a state of love, be playful with it, tap into your inner child,” the artist explained in a local television interview.

That would have been enough. But no, I had had to add more. Four more images. Young and old males and females who looked to me like they were showing some kind of self-love.

Image from Street View

Little known fact: Flying is a distinct advantage when viewing street art, especially as it has evolved in the direction of very large vertically-oriented murals.

It really helps to be able to ascend easily to the Hip Hop Boy’s face and higher to make out his skates up over his head.

However, actually flying up a few stories right there on Jasmine Mill Road would attract a good deal of attention. Whoever did it could probably start a new religion on the spot, or be dead quickly, or both.

In VR, there is no such threat. It is easy and fun to fly and it definitely helps street art viewing. No one who sees you fly in VR thinks you’re crazy or tries to shoot you down like a balloon.

There is also no threat of disease transmission in VR, unless you consider ideas a disease or share a headset or both.

Somehow, young boys in Mumbai get the idea to do high-level, full-over-the-head roller break dancing. There are people in the markets below who see such behavior as a disease. There are others who see it as self-love.

Maybe this older gentleman was doing Hip Hop boat-dancing back in the day for all we know. I like the way he looks now, standing up there like that.

Image from Street View

Indian forced-laborers built Mumbai out of a little archipelago under British orders. Later the British took those hardworking Indian people to build British stuff in Southeast Asia, where we now have Malaysia and Singapore.

My guess is that Indian boatmen moved very heavy cargo from ship to shore. It was hard. I still like the way the artist drew him and how that looks to me.

All I know about the three young women is their appearance on the Calle Satigtario Ote in August, 2017. They were not here in June, 2016. The Street View data base for this location has no new entries since this one, so their continued existence is unknown. To me.

I wish I could credit the artist and I have searched. but I have not been successful.

Image from Street View

What is wrong of course with this lovely mural is the way the young girl on the left is smudged.

Usually when this happens it is because the Street View’s Face detection AI thinks it’s found a recognizable human face so it mindlessly blurs it. Sometimes it thinks a drawing of a face really is a face. Like, unfortunately, for one of the three.

Lady Pink has painted this Brick Lady in a few other places so it’s nice to have it here in Wynnwood Walls, something like a Street Art Hall of Fame. Except there is no Hall of Immortals. Nothing is permanent.

Image from Street View

If there was, Lady Pink would be in the Inaugural Cohort. She starred in a movie leading a gang of guys tagging New York City trains back in the 80s. That’s Hall of Fame right there, but for her it was just the beginning of a long career painting self-love for women.

I’m not sure when Self-Love was invented, or re-invented in post-modern times, or when it became distinguishable enough from pure narcissism that it’s now considered a healthy state, perhaps from which all other love can flow.

Image by David Denton

Tom’s work has not appeared in The New York Times, New Yorker Magazine, The New Republic, the New England Journal of Medicine, or anything New at all.

He only publishes in obscure journals and, once upon a time, PBS Program Guides. Otherwise he just gives his work a URL and sends it packing on the web at places like Medium and Sub-Stack, where he enjoys a modest following.



Tom Nickel

Learning Technologist focusing on VR, Video, and Mortality … producer of Less Than One Minute and 360 degree videos