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Art and Graffiti

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To the editors:

In regards to your article "Graffiti Theory" in the March 26 issue.

Let's get one fact straight. Graffiti is vandalism. To claim it is art would have the equivalency of using a rocket launcher on a building and calling the remains a sculpture. Vandalism simply defined is destruction of property, private or otherwise. I could crap and encase it in Lucite and call it art and my argument would be stronger because of the mere fact that I have not destroyed or violated someone else's property without their permission.

Don't tell me I don't understand tags because I didn't have good art appreciation classes. I have. (Unlike the idiot who remarked to coming across a Picasso in the 16th- or 17th-century "stuff." Any form of intelligent life would know that Picasso was never around those centuries.) And I will admit to seeing graffiti that displays talent. But unless that person was given permission to paint on the surface, it still exists as vandalism.

An interesting point on the distinct difference between real art and graffiti is art appreciates in value while graffiti lowers the value of the neighborhood. This usually defeats the low self-esteem problem these kids have to begin with. They complain they live in subclass communities and then they continue to trash it even more. That's not only contradictory, it's stupid.

In referring to the talent that seems to exist, some have wisely pursued it by getting paid to do murals. That then fits more into the broad definition of art than vandalism. Not the rushed spraying of illegible and oft "misspelled" letters that have no forethought put into composition, color, or effort other than finishing up before getting caught. This is what graffiti is all about. These vandals don't scribble their initials, stand back, and reflect that this scrawl "truly depicts the nature of man in true form." It's doing it as quickly as possible and not getting caught in their act of defiance. Hieroglyphics were never approached in that manner.

These kids will not understand until they literally grow up. They seem to feel their generation is unique when in fact children follow the same patterns in behavior whether they grew up in the 50s or in the 90s. Psychologists will tell you that the similarities outweigh any subtle differences. It is because of this stubborn streak of rebellion it unfortunately becomes almost hopeless to argue with them. So maybe if we put this argument into terms they can understand. Ask the so-called graffiti artist to take you to his music collection. If he owns CDs, take a lava rock and start etching your initials onto his CDs. If he owns tapes, dip them into buckets of paint. Then tell him it's all in the interest of art. Or rather take his starter jacket and scribble it with shoe polish. I would hope then he would understand the difference of destroying personal property, making it worthless and then truly appreciate what would constitute real art, in any loose definition, does to improve life rather than denigrate.

M. Volgesburg

Chicago

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