What is art? Could Houstonians decide between desirable graffiti and trash?


There has been a lot of local controversy over the recently proposed law to fine business owners for not cleaning up graffiti on their buildings quickly enough (see Shawn’s previous Metblog post). Personally, I think this is unfair.

Don’t get me wrong, I really do get that there has been an increase in gang and racist graffiti in the Houston area (see Chronicle article here) and I do think it’s a problem.

But can citizens and business owners really be expected to pony up the funds and the time to paint and re-paint tagged buildings and fences? Talk about pricey… especially when in some parts of Houston chances are the tag will be back up there by sunrise the next day.

But that’s not my point — the real question I have here is do we have to classify all graffiti in the same lump category as gang, racist and homophobic graffiti? What about the good stuff? The murals? The pieces of urban art that sprout up from time to time?

The City Council is Bristol (England) has come up with a novel idea – let the people decide for themselves what is art and what is trash…. what should be kept to appreciate and what should be removed.

Case in point, Banksy (a really amazing artist) recently put up a stencil on the wall of a sexual health clinic in Bristol. By law, it is vandalism – but the building tenants adore it!

Dr Annie Evans, who works at the Brook Young People’s Sexual Health Clinic, said the team there were ‘bouncing with joy’ about the stencil on their building.

She said: ‘The latest “Banksy” is on the side of our clinic building… Did you realise how utterly appropriate your latest subject matter was, given what goes on in the building? ‘Thanks a bunch and we will do our best to look after it.’

No word yet on how successful Bristol’s citizen vote has been — but do you think that this is something that could work in Houston? Thanks to Wooster Collective for the story tip.

3 Comments so far

  1. Governor (unregistered) on June 30th, 2006 @ 2:52 pm

    Hey dude… where was that “artwork” in your post painted? I’m looking to take more photos of our city and would like to explore other areas. today it’s raining. it smells sorta weird in here.

  2. Marc Brubaker (unregistered) on July 1st, 2006 @ 2:18 am

    That’s in Bristol, England… so good luck finding that one. There’s some interesting graffiti in the Westheimer area near the vintage shops and also not far away on Montrose.

  3. Demetri Walker (unregistered) on July 2nd, 2006 @ 5:55 pm

    They were trying to do the same thing here in Atlanta but I’m not sure if they’re still enforcing it anymore.

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