Graffiti: Art or Vandalism
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Graffiti art has had a bad reputation for a long time in the eyes of many, but others believe that its condemnation lies in a fundamental misunderstanding of what constitutes as art. For many, it is hard to imagine that a form of vandalism can also be on the cutting edge of the art world.
Graffiti is a major “problem,” according to the Santa Barbara’s government website. The city has a Graffiti Abatement Hotline for reporting when visitors spot an area with graffiti.
Legislators do not recognize it as art because they believe it takes away from the city’s character.
Graffiti is often associated with gang activity, political defiance and crime. It is depicted as an “aesthetic problem.” In Santa Barbara, Graffiti is defined as, “the malicious defacement of real or personal property.”
According to many, street art does not have to be any of these things.
Jack Franceschini is an Australian graffiti artist who preaches the gospel under highway overpasses. He says that he likes the way graffiti makes audiences think. Franceschini says, “I have the greatest message in the world, and that’s why I want to portray that through graffiti.”
For Banksy, an anonymous and infamous international graffiti artist, the temporary nature of his work is part of what makes it so popular. Sometimes, he comes back to his work months later to paint it over himself.
The debate in Santa Barbara over the legitimacy of street art is not unique to the city and continues to be a worldwide topic of conversation.