My garage door has become a hotbed of attention lately.
A few years ago I had a tagging problem because my house is on on such a busy street. The city was sending me threatening letters (deal with graffiti or pay heavy fine) so I painted a Barbarella image on my garage door. I thought, surely even graffiti artists won’t paint over someone else’s art…my impression is street artists do have their own ethic…
Aside from a few, small tags I could easily paint over, the garage was safe for a couple of years. Then a few weeks ago someone came in and painted over the whole garage door with a ridiculous unreadable signature. I was mad, to say the least, it wasn’t even artistic, and it destroyed my mural. I called the police, but they were completely unresponsive. They didn’t even bother to come over and take a picture to try and identify the signature. (I mean, it was a signature.)
I wanted to communicate with the tagger somehow immediately that what he did was really wrong. We figured who ever tagged the garage would come back and look at it, so my artist friend kathy and i painted a giant “no” sign over it. We hung pens so people in the neighborhood could write comments as they walked by. It was great to see the supportive messages people wrote saying they’d loved the mural and it was terrible it was tagged over.
I also started putting the word out amongst my extended network to try and figure out who it was, so he could be sure and get the message. I mean, it’s a signature—some friend of a friend would know who did the tagging, surely.
Apparently it generated a bit of a response…a neighborhood blogger, capitolhillseattle, mentioned it, and then KOMO TV came by and interviewed me.
Well, I got another letter from the city saying I needed to get rid of the graffiti. This also makes me mad, why would I get fined for someone else’s crime? They should just say “if you don’t paint over it in 10 days, we will” or some such thing. But to fine me? Isn’t it one of those constitutional rights, to not be punished for other people’s crimes?
We had some ideas of what to paint, but as we were driving home a few days ago, we were thinking we should paper over it with Obama posters. Then I was thinking well I could probably just paint a giant Obama image. I am just madly in love with Obama (as is everyone in my house) and figured it would be a good way to show our support.
I cannot tell you how fun it was to be out in the street, painting Obama, and have all these people walk by telling me essentially “i loved the space woman, but yah go Obama!” I even got Slogged . Kathy said even the PI came by to take pictures.
The whole response has been so positive, I greatly appreciate the neighborhood response.
And, I got two leads on the tagger. One from a friend of a friend, and one through an email. My friend told me apparently he’s some 17 year old punk kid. The person who emailed me also knew who he was, but didn’t want to get the guy in trouble with the police. I told him that’s ok, I understand, honestly I don’t want to send some 17 year old to jail for tagging my garage, but please do me the favor of making sure he knows how even amongst graffiti artists what he did was considered totally, totally wrong. Here are some excerpts from his response, it’s pretty interesting…:
he is what we refer to as a “toy” and that was a definit toy move…That kid has no can control, he writes for a whack crew that gets no love in seattle and doesnt even existed outside the 206 like the better more prolific crews that have cells here. There is a code for writing/bombing and some rules governing where you can and cant hit up. So a hand style can go over a ink/paint pen tag, a bomb or a throwie can go over a hand style, a throwie with multiple (4 or more) colors and a little more technical can go over a bomb, and a burner goes over that. the only thing that goes over a burner is a wild style or a peice (a mural). So even though your mural wasnt spray paint it should have been respected and left alone. its been there for a bit and no one bombed on it till him which goes to show you there have been alot of writers who HAVE respected it. Sucks some toy destroyed your hard work.
DUDE IS ALREADY CATCHING SO MUCH SHIT FOR IT THOUGH… HE ALREADY GOT NO LOVE BUT NOW ITS JUST THAT MUCH WORSE FOR HIM.
crazy. This whole experience has really given me a lot of food for thought about the nature of public displays, messaging, and interwoven communities. (Ahem, one of my current research directions.)