Vandals posing as artists channel walking dogs in Yosemite

There’s a train or two coming down the tracks every hour at Ceres. The next time you see one, look closely. Try to spot a boxcar that hasn’t been defaced with graffiti. Good luck. Chances are higher that you’ll find a die-hard militant vegan ordering a well-done ribeye from Sizzler.

Vandals who deface covered wagons see things differently. They call themselves artists. That’s like saying an arsonist is an artist. Both destroy something for their own satisfaction.

So-called graffiti artists, of course, have a comeback. They emphasize that they are artists. They say they spread the art. And to back up their claim, they say they would never paint over the work of other artists. They should cut the crap. There is no honor among graffiti artists, oops, I mean so-called graffiti artists.

It’s no different from the old adage about thieves. The problem with their argument is their argument.

They say people are wrong to call what they do vandalism. It’s art, they claim. They cite examples where graffiti art sells for thousands of dollars. And they smugly say that art is in the eye of the beholder. Two small problems with this self-serving analogy. Such graffiti work that sells is limited to a traditional canvas of a certain type. It is not requisitioned from someone else.

And if art is the eye of the beholder, I can find a lot of people who see trains as art. They are called model railroad enthusiasts.

And here’s a surprise for those whose brain cells benefit from exposure to spray paint. Architecture is an art form. This means that buildings – and even soundproof walls – are considered art to some degree. They create visuals. They arouse emotions. And while some won’t get your heart racing, others will. The Louvre. The TransAmerica building. Granted, most sound walls or even steel buildings look bland. But talk to an architect about using surfaces, colors and gingerbread. If you doubt today’s sound walls are just blah blah blah, then why aren’t they all made up of your basic bland basalite blocks. You know those. Dairy milking barns and public beach toilets from the 1930s era are sanctuaries for the basic block of bland basalite.

And we haven’t even touched on the obvious problem. The “graffiti artist” almost never owns the “canvas” he disfigures.

What if the “public” owned the web and not an individual? Schools, public restrooms and noise barriers often fall into this category. It’s always a self-proclaimed artist messing up something someone else has designed. They justify this because they believe the world believes like them. All they do is improve it by adding “art”.

Sorry, friends. This is a lie. A big lie. If in doubt, head to Yosemite National Park. Hike to the top of Yosemite Falls. You will find nearly 50 examples of graffiti sprayed on rocks along the way. It happened in May.

Based on the repeated word “Fresno”, there are people who believe that the evocation of images of the Raisin Capital of the World outweighs the beauty of natural art sculpted over three and more Little Ice Ages. 30,000 years old.

That said, what you’ll see reflects graffiti artists in their most authentic form. They are no different from dogs that walk on their paws to mark their territory when roaming an area.

So. They channel the animal behavior of dogs. Sometimes it’s lonely. Sometimes it’s in packages. They are not artists.

That said, they are not alone in desecrating nature for their own twisted form of self-edification. The best example is Casey Nocket from New York. She was the 2014 “Narcissist of the Year”. The then-20-something woman took a trip out West. She has visited 10 national parks from Yosemite and Death Valley to Zion. She defaced the works of nature with acrylic paints which she then photographed and posted on social media. In a number of them, she took selfies with her graffiti. In Death Valley, she painted rock on the small peak of Telescope Peak at 11,043 feet. Apparently she thought she could do better than the stunning views of the infamous valley as well as the Great Basin, Mount Whitney and the Sierra. Not that it mattered which part of the top she defaced, but she did it on the tallest and most prominent point.

About 400 people a year climb Telescope Peak, which rises above ancient bristlecone pines and fragile desert ecologists. They do it without leaving a trace. In fact, if hikers see debris that isn’t theirs, they’ll take it away.

She also degraded the Mist Trail in Yosemite and a Crater Lake lookout, to name a few. She was caught like most narcissists are caught – by her own vanity. Nocket uploaded footage of her damage to social media to show the world how artistic she is.

When caught and arrested, she expressed extreme remorse for what she had done. Remorse? She deliberately planned a trip to 10 national parks taking her weapons with her to waste millions of years of nature’s painstaking work. If everyone defaced national parks and government properties, they would look like hell within months.

Nocket, like any self-centered social media user who believes he is an icon even if only in his mind, places his vanity above everyone else. Reminds you of vandal graffiti, doesn’t it?

Nocket got her. She was prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Rest assured that the penalties were only a pittance for the damage she caused.

True artists, by the way, respect the works of other artists. Mother Nature – in every way – is the ultimate artist.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Courier or 209 Multimedia.