Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Graffiti Art: Street Art or Street Crime?

"Just out of curiousity", originally uploaded by Sator Arepo

Alphabeta, a graffiti supply store, recently opened in Brooklyn dedicated to street art. It includes a gallery area with exhibits being scheduled.

A news story on NPR briefly discusses whether venues like this actually promote art or criminal mischief.

An additional issue is whether efforts to promote graffiti art have any positive influence on taggers who use spray paint to mark gang territory and vandals who deface their neighborhoods, causing immense problems to others, including property owners.

Some graffiti promotion efforts can actually have the reverse effect, attracting vandals and exacerbating the problem. Alphabeta's concept, as presented in the news story, sounds different from these.

Perhaps business concepts like Alphabeta's would succeed in smaller communities with some vision, leadership and interest in creating an arts program for youth, with an eye toward developing talent and engaging kids at risk of joining gangs.

A segment involving kids at some step in the process of community efforts to remove graffiti that is not art, in areas where it does not belong, would reinforce the legitimacy of such programs to prospective donors and the community at large. It would also teach students in the program to use their talents responsibly, and care about their neighborhoods.

In Syracuse, a similar venue could be located within the developing arts district established on the near West-Side. This area is within walking distance from several schools, and would be easy for children to access.

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