Editorial: Art?

Graffiti can cost thousands in cleanup costs. Is it really art?

Soft streaks of orange and red heed warning to sailors in a water colour rendition of a coastal morning sky.

An off-white kermode bear stands in stark contrast to a backdrop of blue-green trees, depicted with oil paint brushed atop stretched canvas.

In both of the above scenarios, there is no doubt the creators of such imagery were artists — a title that conjures adjectives like visionary, imaginative, possibly whimsical and in other cases deep, or dark.

But a contemporary artistic subculture that sees creative vision flow through the tips of spray-paint cans, often onto a piece of outdoor property that belongs to another, conjures  a different kind of adjective not applied to artists who use more traditional media. Criminal.

And graffiti has a bad rap for good reason. It can costs thousands in cleanup costs for the non-consensual new owners of such works.

So while a Terrace-based artist had his heart in the right place by asking the city in late October to designate an outdoor wall to be used by graffiti artists legally, councillors were right to respond with the question ­— is graffiti really art?

The simple answer is, no. If creativity becomes an unwelcome liability to another, or society, it is an act of vandalism.

And a look at the graffiti project on the old Co-op building shows that even if such expression is sprayed legally, public associations with its imagery are generally unfavourable.

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