Art or Vandalism?

—Alex Klahn, Staff Editor—

Street art is a controversial topic in the art community. Today, there are numerous street artists in cities all over the world, and art has become a growing trend. The question is when does graffiti become art? How do you differentiate art from tagging? The argument from street artists is that art is a way for one to express themselves, which is what they are doing through their work. “My opinion is that graffiti is an art form, but more the act than the product. The act of taking space is inherently an affront to the ideas of society’s valuation of property and ownership. Of course, not everyone thinks about it that way,” says street artist, Mickael Broth. There are still people who frown upon this form of art defending that it harms their city.

What does street art really involve? Depending on who  is asked, the answer will vary. Generally, street art is a form of art placed on public buildings or platforms. Whether the medium is paint, posters, or video projections, it is a way for artists to express themselves and share messages with a broad audience. Just like music and writing, it helps people to express themselves and communicate a message. “One of my favorite parts of what I do now is getting to help create interesting spaces in the world, whether in private businesses or homes, or out in the world for anyone to experience,” says Broth.

What about the responses from the public? Even though there are people who still do not approve of this work, they still stop to look and observe the art all over the city. According to Broth, as long as it is being talked about, that is all that matters. “I’ve always said I don’t care if people look at the work I do and hate it, as long as they see that it is done skillfully. Making assessments of the artistic merit will always be subjective, but assessment of the craft involved should be obvious,” says Broth.

Street artists use whatever platform they can find to be the most captivating, which sometimes leads to violating the law. It is fairly common for graffiti artists to get arrested. Many artists believe that the purpose of their work is to attract attention from everyone, even if people often get angered by graffiti on their property, seeing it as a personal attack. Broth points out that this is often not the case, however, saying, “If you live in the city and someone paints the side of your building, chances are it had nothing to do with you as a person and simply the fact that the wall was highly visible,”

Unfortunately, for some, being arrested takes time away from showing their work and continuing with street art. “The biggest arrest that I experienced was in 2004 at 21. My apartment was raided by ten cops with guns drawn. I was charged with a stack of felonies and misdemeanors and ended up serving ten months in jail. That was the end of my involvement in graffiti, not because jail rehabilitated me in any way, but because of what it put my family through,” says Broth.

Street art popularity has rapidly grown over the past few years and has become accepted by more and more people. “The average person didn’t really pay attention to or like the street art I was doing fifteen years ago,” says Broth.

Now, walking around Carytown, there is street art wherever you look. The mural painted on Mellow Mushroom by Mickael Broth  in Carytown has a positive reaction for the most part. The Richmond Squirrels stadium has now been painted by numerous street artists during the street art festival on September 21.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photo Courtesy to Alex Klahn

Posted in Art