Here's a roundup of recent news and blog items focused on that oft-ignored third theme of invited graffiti, which has long been the most underutilized part of that three-pronged approach:
ATX Graffiti has pictures of legal graffiti commissioned for the SXSW music festival on East 5th Street in East Austin. Clearly more talented, prolific graff writers are willing to put up more elaborate, creative work when they know the project will ride for a while. I'll bet it won't get defacd as often as the blank wall, either.
In Corpus Christi, high school students were invited to create graffiti-style spray paint murals at La Retama Park.
A UK community has given a ten-year old girl the run of the town to paint graffiti murals, though when you see her art you can understand why. It's not just her, though; the same town allows a great deal of more elaborate, invited graffiti from quality artists.
From the always wonderful Subtopia, check out invited graffiti on "blast walls" installed by the US military in Baghdad, which makes the landscape more hospitable and also helps prevent subversive, anti-American graffiti.
In San Francisco, anti-graffiti zealots on the city council tried to pass an ordinance "that would define what constitutes a legal mural and where it may be painted." In other words, they think it will reduce the amount of outlaw art if they over-regulate legal, invited and commissioned art, which heretofore, presumably, had not been a significant source of concern. It seems absurd to have to say so, but you can't regulate your way out of a graffiti problem: It's already an illegal activity.
At the NY Times City Room blog, Sewell Chan has an excellent post reviewing a new book by a sociologist who's been studying graffiti for 30 years and believes that, “In its purest form, graffiti is a democratic art form that revels in the American Dream.” He also describes instances where graff writers allied interests with property owners, including one Brooklynite who was "eventually embraced by property owners who saw his style — with large, neat letters, quite separate from the spray-painted bold colors and complicated letter styles that are more common in graffiti — as a useful ornamentation for their storefronts."
Finally, where do we draw the line when defining graffiti? Unwanted spray paint or etching into glass is one thing, but how much can you credibly talk about "property damage" when discussing messages left in chalk on the sidewalk? A Flagstaff, AZ city ordinance treats non-permanent chalking the same as more permanent graffiti.
See prior Grits posts related to invited graffiti:
- Toward a restorative graffiti policy
- Paint responsibly: Museum offers hands-on graffiti exhibit
- Creating public spaces for invited art adds carrot to stick of banning uninvited graff
- Mexico prevents graffiti by encouraging it at El Azteca Stadium
- Moscow turns to invited graffiti to liven up Soviet era buildings
- Adidas: Graffiti is legitimate art
- Grading graffiti? What do youth want?
- Digital graffiti, or, Is there something to a wall that wants us to write on it?
- Austin lags on important third component of graffiti policy