The Art of Graffiti

Public art or public nuisance?


It can be a simple as tagging one's name on a building to elaborate murals.

But such displays draw mixed reactions.

For some, they're nothing but ugly defacement of public and private property.

For others, they symbolize a type of art that may not get the credit or respect given other creative art forms.

For the average U.S. taxpayer, clean-up of graffiti costs about $1 to $3 a year.

Here in Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed last year resurrected the anti-graffiti task force to clean up some of the eyesores. It's no wonder; graffiti is one the top three nuisance crimes in East Atlanta Patch.

True enough, some of it is ugly and vulgar. But some murals are beautiful.

And one could argue some of them add something to the neighborhood's character.

Take the Krog Street underpass for instance. It connects Inman Park and Cabbagetown under the MARTA and CSX rail lines and is wall-to-wall gallery of art, which draw residents and tourists alike to snap up pictures.

Now, imagine Little Five Points pristine and Disneyfied. Would it be the same? Would it have the same feel?

What kind of balance — if any — is there for graffiti art and the needs and wants of a community?

Amy Wenk March 24, 2011 at 11:37 PM
I say it's public art. Barcelona and other Spanish cities are full of graffiti. Much of it was painted in response to Franco's regime. To me, graffiti is (in many cases, but not all) an important artistic expression.
Marcia Killingsworth March 25, 2011 at 02:18 AM
I think some of the murals - not gang tags - are spectacular and help define and spotlight the diversity of our communities. I'd hate to see it all disappear. I like the kind of intown, urban sometimes scruffy character it brings to the area. Gang tags, yes, those should be eliminated. But graffiti? I can't say I dislike it, or want it gone. I often get a chuckle out of some of the messaging. I wish the artists' talents could also be channeled in a different, even profitable way. After all, Jean-Michel Basquiat began his career as a graffiti artist. Just my thoughts.
Riki Bolster April 22, 2011 at 08:01 PM
If you can see the beauty in street art (not tagging), take a look at www.streetela.com, a website that celebrates the unique contributions of non-traditional artists, even printing their art on wearable items. Riki Bolster


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