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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

PhotoWedns 3/4/09 Vandelism or Art?

I noticed this piece of graffiti a week ago on Fulton St. and near Clinton Av.

Graf on Fulton
self-expression outside Auteur Du Monde on Fulton and Clinton in Clinton Hill
A wider view

So assuming the doer of this spray painted imagery did not have permission of the building owner this would be an act of vandalism. Which for some (especially photo ready politicians) is still the blight of our city, which btw our tax dollars pay to remove. Personally I like the way it looks mainly because the spray painting person seems to have chosen a color that matched the orange of the brick wall intentionally. The effect, to my eyes, creates a transition between the wild glyph shapes into the ordered brick pattern of the building. But I'm a painter and an artist, so what do I know.

Recently there was a story on Gothamist about three teens and a twenty-year old who went to town on Central Park's Bethesda Terrace. Here's a look:

Graffiti on the Bethesda Terrace arcade walls (Photograph by Jen Chung/Gothamist)

Commenters to the site took issue because Gothamist makes frequent postings about "street artists" who in the opinion of the commenters are vandals themselves.

My opinion was conflict and disgust. Because my imagination and life experience tells me it's possible that the group were not simple irreverent jerks, that they could have looked at the art of Bethesda Terrace and wondered why their creations shouldn't be displayed as prominently. They painted the word "sueƱos" (dreams), hearts and their tag, albeit sloppily. Who knows they could have deep aspirations or they could have been high. I'm a radical liberal, what do I know.

At the same time, I followed the restoration of the Bethesda Terrace and it took years, millions of dollars, and resulted in a truly beautiful FREE space for ALL in the city to share. So I do think in the case of this group (they were apprehended in the act) that they should get a jail sentence that will take effect if they don't work on the restoration crew that has to undo what they did.

But I've seen vandals create art and artists vandalize. When is it art and when is it vandalism? What do you think?

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