Comment 31496

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2009 at 00:14:06

Graffiti is a reality of urban life. As much as drab grey roads, sidewalks, bridges, buildings, postboxes (which probably get tagged about thrice as much as the red ones) and bus furniture are going to get covered with ink, paint and abrasives. Maybe it's a reaction to the near-total disappearance of inspiration from design and architecture that came with modernism. Or maybe it's a re-emergence of the childhood urge to write on the walls. Either way, as long as massive parts of our city are designed as afterthoughts by office workers at city hall, they're going to be the victims of those with more imagination. Stand at Stinson and Victoria, where the mountain access touches down, and ask yourself why no matter how many times it gets painted over (with those ugly, telltale mismatched grey blotches) people just keep tagging it?

And if anyone doubts that vandals will keep writing when things are painted over, take a walk through the McNab St. tunnel. The graffiti there was so bad that at one point, as discussed in graffiti on the wall, one of the artists themselves started repainting it to open up new space, and the city (despite being within spitting distance of city hall itself) gave up repainting it for almost a year.

Hamilton's real problem is that in our multiple crackdowns on graffiti, we've driven everyone with skill out (or into custody) and covered up all their work. Nature abhors a vaccuum, and thus the biggest, loudest and most obnoxious artists have filled the gap - witness big, bold Chillen or omnipresent Keenur.

My suggestion - create a class of public space which is "fair game" for graffiti, and make that clear. Certain walls (eg train tunnels) and objects (eg. traffic signal boxes) would be there for anyone to decorate as they see fit. This would mean that people wouldn't have to fear being arrested for doing such things and could take the time to do it right (imagine your mother painting flowers on the overpass railing). Another class would be for residents of the area to collectively decide upon (so as to grant individual character to each neighbourhood), such as telephone poles or sidewalks. And for Bob's sake make the rest well enough designed that they're not worth painting over - like it or not there's a pretty direct correlation between ugly, seemingly uncared about public space and graffiti, and things like prominent public artwork tend to discourage it pretty effectively.

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