Friday, April 8, 2011


Is this graffiti?

I say yes. It is the work of taggers armed with spray paint and mostly done in secret in the middle of the night.

Now is THIS graffiti?

The wall, bordering an alley, belongs to a resident who happens to be an artist herself. To brighten up the dullness of the alley she commissioned some young high-school artists in the Hollywood area to paint a 75' long mural on her fence.

A neighbor apparently didn't like it and called the city Department of Building and Safety inspectors, who determined that because a single word, "Like," appeared on the mural it was therefore a sign, not a mural, and was illegal according to city code. She was issued a $360 citation and told to remove the word. She did.

At which time the city came back and told her now it was an illegal mural and that they would fine her an additional $1,925 if she didn't have the whole thing removed.

The alley wall is now white again, painted over by the young people who designed it in the first place.

The neighborhood is divided on the issue. Some think it looks an awful lot like graffiti. Others think it definitely is art, even if it isn't everybody's favorite style. Some think the city ought to be tackling far worse problems than this.

The LA Times, whose photographer caught the last two photos above, shows the exuberance of the mural, the start of its demise and the heartbreak of the artist who championed the work of the younger artists and has been keeping readers apprised of the situation.

It would be an easy decision to know if this mural was a good or bad thing if you had to look at it every day in your neighborhood. Any more it is hard to know the boundaries of art, folk art, and graffiti. It is possible to like this kind of art in one place but not in another? Many people are taking kind of a "David & Goliath" approach to the whole thing - with of course the city being Goliath.

I'm not sure I know where I stand on this. I think the full-length mural, which is definitely not graffiti, is stunning but I'm not sure it should be in an "in-your-face" kind of place. What d'ya think?

And as always, thanks goes to the LA Times for making each day's newspaper worth reading!


marciamayo said...

I'm not sure where I would stand either if I had to look at it everyday, but I think I would want to leave it, as it is an example of people working together to make something good - especially when part of those people are teenagers.

Olga said...

That is a tough one. I'm inclined to think was a worthwhile endeavor and should stay, but then I don't have to walk past it every day.

Stacey said...

I thought it was a very cool mural and I wouldn't mind looking at it everyday because I would know why it was there. Now if I was just driving through the neighborhood or looking for a place to live I might see it and think wow that is pretty, but did some gang members put that up there? It might stop me from living in the neighbor because of that because I wouldn't know why it was there. Would it be "right" for "me" to judge it that why, NO, but unfortunately that is what I see when I see something like that. :o(