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Graffiti art for one and all
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 4 novembre 2010
 
Photo Ingrid Wissink
“Graffiti artist paints portrait of Montreal wrestler Mad Dog Vachon”

The city is trying a new approach to the persistent graffiti problem in CDN-NDG by encouraging community members to use spray paint in permitted areas, instead of criminalizing all graffiti.

On Oct. 23, Loyola district councillor Susan Clarke, along with SPVM, Prevention NDG, and graffiti artist and educator Sterling Downey, organized a family graffiti event. Participants were invited to decorate construction panels with spray paint using the theme “Building on tradition: sports and the community.” The panels surround the construction site of the controversial new sports centre in Benny Park.

Clarke, who is responsible for the graffiti file in the borough, was pleased with the turnout, which included participants from the age of four to forty. “This event shows that we can figure out ways to work together... The graffiti issue has to be dealt with by a multifaceted process; there isn’t just one approach that solves everything.”

Previous efforts to tackle graffiti vandalism have included the commissioning of public murals on selected walls, in order to prevent the painting of unsightly ‘tags’ on the same surface.

Community organizations have been organizing awareness campaigns in schools, although one young participant discovered the event on his own, wandering over from the nearby skateboard park. “We don’t tag on walls... We’re just doing it here now because it’s legal, we have the opportunity, so why not?”

Downey underlined the importance of consultation between all parties concerned. “Everything, whether it’s tolerance, prevention, production, encouragement, if there’s no dialogue… it’s never going to work. Graffiti, as a movement, constantly evolves... the people who are trying to control it are not having much success, spending so much money – $300,000 to clean up versus a 7 dollar can of spray paint – it’s cheaper to produce artwork than to clean up graffiti.”

A jury of borough citizens of all ages chose their favourite artwork at the end of the day, and a photomontage of the ensemble will be presented to the public at an unconfirmed location in 2011.

[Ingrid Wissink]






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