Tuesday, January 04, 2011

What exactly is so great about a plain grey wall?

Nancy Visser at the Dallas News' East Dallas Blog writes about a municipal response to graffiiti that looks worse than the blight it's covering up:
The city responded quickly last week to a 311 note about graffiti on a retaining wall for the Central/I-45 overpass exit ramp to Bryan Street. A crew was out there the next day covering up the graffiti. Problem is the blue-gray paint over the brown stone wall looks almost as bad as the graffiti, and some of it washed off in the little bit of rain we had last week.

This would be a good place to use the graffiti blaster on loan from Stripco to the city to prep for the Super Bowl. Read about it in this report by DMN city hall reporter Steve Thompson.

Until recently, graffiti cleanup by the city has primarily been the responsibility of one man: Dwight Jessie, a city employee who has done the best he can with few resources. He tries to match the paint color to the wall. He works weekends when volunteer groups offer to help paint.
I replied thusly in the comments:
Here's an idea: Let somebody paint the whole thing as a mural. If it's any good, the taggers will (mostly) leave it alone. It's not like the retaining wall - or the blue paint POS coverup job - are all that attractive, either. Why not grant permission to fill the space with art? From the looks of it, in this case the tagging was more attractive than the cleanup.

Indeed, if you're looking for folks to paint the wall for free, the cops have long lists of local taggers (most of whom they can't catch), in many cases with extensive photographic portfolios of their work. Pick somebody who's work doesn't suck, lay out the ground rules (no obscenity or gang references), then offer to let them paint it for free. I guarantee if you made the offer, you'd get takers.
RELATED: Dallas' new graffiti 'czar' looking past criminal justice approaches.


Anonymous said...

Grits -- as usual you are on target with "natural crime fighting" ideas that are both effective and affordable. Replacing tagged walls or ugly untagged surfaces with mural art has worked wonders almost every where it has been employed. Taggers respect the art of others -- particularly art by those living in their neighborhoods - and leave it alone.

The murals in the San Juan Homes housing project in San Antonio and on the walls of various business in the "barrios" of San Antonio are a great example. They have been up for years without being tagged despite being prime real estate for taggers.

austex1151 said...

Oh please! Nobody in this country ever even considers simple solutions to such problems. They always want to raise criminal penalties, buy expensive equipment to "clean" the tagged areas, add security patrols, whatever. City and state officials never seem to think of simply working with the community and letting locals and artists handle this "problem". I love your common sense ideas, but I'm betting it winds being more money spent on "prevention". criminalization, cleaning. When I lived in Mexico for awhile, I was impressed at how simply and efficiently problems were often addressed, using readily available materials and simple ingenuity.