|Drawings from the caves of Lascaux, France|
When Pompeii was uncovered in the 1800's after being covered by ash from Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D., one of the surprising finds was graffiti that had survived even red hot lava on the walls of the city. Some of the inscriptions were "X" rated while others were a form of advertisements for "X" rated services.
So ... graffiti is pretty much as old as modern man (homo sapiens about 50,000 years old) who became used to advertising ... something. Some critics have been known to say art is nothing more than a form of advertising.
|Romans were masters of the|
intricacies of advertising
|Berliners making their thoughts known on the Berlin Wall|
The Long Beach Art Museum admired it so much, they put their collection in storage, painted their walls white and invited known and sketchy artists to decorate their walls. From what I heard, the show was a success and very well attended. I wrote about it a few years ago. What those artists created was every bit as inventive and considered as any Impressionist, Expressionist or Modernist work of art. It deserves to be admired and valued.
|Street taggers caught in the act|
|Graffiti becomes a problem when its in your 'hood!|
I know from experience with law enforcement officials that they always know what gang has done what tag but say they can't make an arrest unless they see it happen. I questioned them then and again today; why do you have to "see" them? Tagging is just like a signature. When you write a check, does the clerk at AT&T, Edison, Macy's or Sears need to see you to sign the check in person before cashing it? Even in the 21st Century more and more entities are using "Digital" signatures on the Internet and they are considered valid enough to have the force of law. Goodness, I even signed 99% of my loan papers over the Internet having to only have one document that required a notary.
So, since law officials know the name of the gang, usually most if not all of the members, when they tag a building, that in effect is their signature and what they are doing is against the law ... defacing private or public property.
Tagging is not a victimless crime. There is time and expense for the victum to repair or paint over the damage done. Some cities have enacted laws that if and when caught, parents are responsible for their minor children caught tagging. The cities that have done this have seen such actions drop dramatically. If the parents don't pay, their wages can be garnished until the cost of the damage is repaid plus the cost of the court costs. Parents that thought it was funny when their child was caught were not happy at the cost of their "humor" when they had to pay and parents became parents again not tolerating continuing humor. Ah, as a wise old friend said, "Money turns the crank!" I would add either the getting or the going of that money turns that crank.
The time has come to honor quality graffiti and time to punish those that generate tagging used as a guise for graffiti. Everything is known about them except maybe seeing them in action. If we can honor a check that is signed presumably by ourselves, mailed three thousand miles away and honored as payment, we can also say that any individual or group using a "signature" must be held responsible for their actions.
Thank you for reading my blog. Please, I invite you to take the time to read earlier blogs where the emphasis here is to explore the ways art and design affects our daily lives ... and always has.