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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Can Crime Become Art?



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What is art? Most will say drawing or painting. Some will say dancing or music. However the definition of art is so loose that it is hard to figure out if it is art or not. Surely I couldn’t just rub Cheeto dust on a white page of paper and expect it to be known around the world as a creative masterpiece. What about graffiti? Is vandalism art?

Art, according to the dictionary, is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. Still, it is such a broad definition that graffiti can be argued either way.

In World War II, housing centers were built separating people and opportunities of economic growth. When the housing centers made social divisions the rich and the poor they started to earn a bad rep.  Most people saw them as failed social experiment. Protesters from the centers started to fight with paintbrushes. It gotten so bad that the New York Transit Authority said that 80% of its subway trains had been vandalized. In response to the paint, city officials started campaigns to “clean up the city”. In the middle of 1989, NYC celebrated aGraffiti-free transit system making it illegal to ‘tag’. However most taggers didn’t listen. So cities made graffiti legal zones.

So is it art?

Graffiti has been featured in New York and Berlin in museums. Some people argue that the difference between taggers and graffiti artists is time. Taggers seem to make scribbles with a paint can. However graffiti artists (called graffitist) make complicated, time consuming pieces that are creative, imaginative, and thought provoking.

There are ways to tell if it’s street art or if it’s just vandalism. Most of the street art beautifies spots that would normally be a trashy, unkempt place. “Tagging” can also be a clue on what you’re looking for. An estimated forty crews are working in Denver; the three largest are TKO, RTD and SWS. Street artist sign with their full name most of the time. Most street artist don’t use aerosol instead they use oil, acrylic or other mediums. Obviously if they are painting in broad daylight then its street art.

Most will say that vandalism is not art, after all crime is not acceptable. The difference between a crime and art is simply permission. Urban art is definitely a different, new art form that is making a scene. It is thought provoking and really fun to look at. A street artist named Banksy says “Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody draw whatever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colors and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall – it’s wet.”

Art is in the eye of the beholder. If you believe something is thought provoking and creative then it is art. So let your artistic eye lead somewhere nice to look at. Come to your own conclusion, is it art?

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