Graffiti, Art or Rambling?

I’ve seen statements like this on a few vacant storefronts in Park View and Columbia Heights. Since it’s written on vacant storefronts, primarily boarded up windows – would you consider this graffiti, art or just random ramblings?

32 Comment

  • There’s another by Fuison as well.

  • just kids trying to be profound. better than a lot of activities they could be doing.

  • How about the conspicuously absent “vandalism” option?

  • Anyone concerned about the “GENTRIFICATION KILLS” graffiti that has also popped up on Georgia Ave. at Small Smiles, the post office, and other places?

  • Graffiti, art, or random ramblings?
    It gets interesting when it is all three.
    Bring it.

  • Yeah, I find it pretty funny that “vandalism” didn’t make your list.

    Had “your” house been tagged with that, you’d be screaming mad…

    Then as we’ve seen before, you’d call the city to take care of it for you.

  • it’s certainly dumb and self-indulgent, but vandalism it is not since it was written on vacant buildings. very profound kid, you’re blowing my mind with you’re anti-establishment poetry/graf. still, it’s probably more interesting than an otherwise boring, boarded up building.

    • Silly me, I looked at the actual DC law, which says nothing about the occupancy status of a building. The issue is the consent of the building’s owner, which I presume wasn’t granted for this.

      § 22-3312.01. Defacing public or private property.

      It shall be unlawful for any person … to write, mark, draw, or paint, without the consent of the owner or proprietor thereof, or, in the case of public property, of the person having charge, custody, or control thereof, any word, sign, or figure upon:

      (1) Any property, public or private, building, statue, monument, office, public passenger vehicle, mass transit equipment or facility, dwelling or structure of any kind including those in the course of erection; or

      (2) The doors, windows, steps, railing, fencing, balconies, balustrades, stairs, porches, halls, walls, sides of any enclosure thereof, or any movable property.

    • who cares whether it was “vacant”? It is still private property, I am sure the owner of which did not give permission.

      If your house was tagged with this crap while you were at work (i.e the house was vacant), would you be saying the same thing?

      Of course you wouldn’t.

      • @Anonymous: silly you indeed. you’re so catty and sarcastic. it really puts me in my place. the rush you must get from just owning the POP message board really must be thrilling. are you really such a sycophant that you need to go by the books on this one? this “vandal” is painting (boring things) on otherwise blighted, basically abandoned buildings. s/he’s doing us a service by keeping our neighborhoods aesthetically interesting. even poor art is better than no art. that your first response was to look up vandalism in DC Law books really demonstrates that you miss the point entirely, and that you’re basically just an obsequious tool bag.

        @joker: if a building is totally vacant (i.e. unoccupied and not in use) i have no problem with people painting on it. in fact it should probably encouraged in instances like this where the building is boarded up and basically left to fallow. it’s not the case that the owner of the building was simply temporarily away at work, and for you to suggest that is beyond ridiculous.

        • I really love folks like MontanaMatt…

          Too hipster poor to own anything themselves, but certainly the resident expert on everyone elses property and “decider in chief” for the neighborhood, nay…the city of what constitutes asthetic appeal. “Asthetically interesting”? Perhaps to people like you with really poor taste, to the masses, not so much.

          I hate to burst your funny elitest bubble, but the owner painted the doors and windows white, a common practice by anyone who gives half a damn about what their property looks like while unoccupied. Take a walk down 7th street in Chinatown, you’ll get the drift.

          Furthermore, how much more difficult do you now think it is for the owner of that space to find someone to lease it with the place now looking like a ghetto crack den? If I was looking for shop space to lease and you showed me that place in its current condition, I wouldn’t even get out of the car because this ugly crap speaks volumes about the neighborhood. You complaing that the space is empty, yet encourage and support actions that make it difficult or impossible to fill.

          And I would much rather have a clean, neutral visual on the building than some ugly ass fail-tag from a wanna be emo star.

          Then again I am just a business owning, people employing, property owning, large tax burden paying boring “square” (i.e. “the man”) and you are the tragic hipster wanna-be struggling against the travesty of “the man” in an effort to just “be understood”, so what do I know?

          Well, I know 3 things:

          1. This is vandalism
          2. Its ugly as sin
          3. You have zero taste

          • joker, you know nothing about me, so your ad hominem attack on some sort of poor, hipster straw-man is beyond meaningless. i own property. i own a business. i even have employees. now that i’ve established that i too own property can i express my opinion? sweet.

            1. this is vandalism only in the most strict legal sense of the word. otherwise, it’s a welcome distraction.
            2. it is ugly as sin yes, but certainly less ugly than the boarded up building was prior to the graffiti.
            3. i bow to your judgment on all matters of taste. surely i can only hope to emulate you in all your awesome buttoned up, property owning, glory.
            4. you’re right, i do totally hate the “man” bro. give me a break. your attempt to pigeonhole me is pathetic. why can’t it be that i just enjoy street art, even when it’s not too great?

          • Ok, mr business owner, answer my question.

            How much more difficult do you think it is for the owner of that space to entice someone to lease it now that it looks like a ghetto hell hole? Less or more?

            As I said, you ridicule someone for having idle space, but you wholeheartedly support the mechanism acting to keep it empty.

            Then again, by your previous posts we all know you don’t own anything more substantial than your prized fixie, so I don’t even know why I bothered asking.

        • Montana Matt — I’ll let you carry on with joker, who’s doing quite well on his own, but I’ll note that you defend yourself out of the box with “you know nothing about me” to his attacks but don’t extend me the same courtesy in labeling me a catty sycophant. News flash: I’m a lawyer, so that usually is the first place I look when it comes to other people’s property, which was the only issue in my first response to you.

          You said “it’s not vandalism” and based that on the fact that the building was vacant. You were wrong. The building’s occupancy has nothing to do with what is or is not vandalism. Societally, we’ve decided that and written it down as a law. So I cited the law, which took about 10 seconds to look up, cut, and paste here. It was and is the only authority that matters. A fair point, I thought.

          You subsequently offered what now appears to be your real argument, some relativist rationale rooted in your sense of aesthetics. That really is the bigger point with which I disagree on any of these sort of “street art” posts. Hate to break it to you, but your aesthetics don’t mean crap in terms of anybody’s property but your own. I’ll combat at every turn the idea that people who don’t own something can decide to alter its appearance and make it whatever their version of “art” is, and I’ll disagree with people like you who enable them with your “any art is better than no art” clap-trap. Again, collectively we already decided that argument. We wrote it down and called it a law. Debate over: putting up anything without the owner’s consent is wrong.

          • I’m an artist and I totally agree with you!
            It not yours to deface, jerk!

          • @joker: What fixie? What are you even talking about and why are you so weirdly fixated on hipsters? Guy, I own a home, two bars and a large farm. Not that it has any bearing on the argument at hand. Owning property is not a prerequisite for having an opinion on the merits of street art, which is a phenomenon that should be celebrated and encouraged.

            As for your question, my answer is that I suspect the impact of a tiny bit of innocuous graffiti will be negligible on the property’s resale value. It’s not as though it was an MS13 tag. At any rate, I feel very little sympathy for real estate speculators who purchase properties with no intention of ever utilizing them themselves.

            @Anonymous: You’re right that I don’t know you personally, and for that I am grateful. My opinion of you is shaped entirely by your post, in which you are lightning quick to consult DC law. That’s why I called you a sycophant, and nothing you have subsequently written has done anything to change my mind about that characterization. You’re right though! Yes, this is legally vandalism. I think that much is fairly obvious and goes without saying. But like I said before, you entirely miss the point of this post, which was to ask YOU the POP reader whether YOU considered this to be graffiti or art, and not whether or not this particular painting was technically legal (obviously it is not). Anyway, thanks for clarifying. Were it not for your astute lawyerin’ i would not have know that vandalism is in fact a crime.

          • @ MM — In that case, I’ll allow myself to draw the conclusion that you’re trying to have your cake and eat it, too, as nothing you’ve written has convinced me otherwise. That doesn’t make you a sycophant (btw, I’m not sure that word means what you think it does … just because I went to the law first, I’m a kiss-ass?) but it does make you a hypocrite, and not even one who makes a consistent argument. On the one hand, you recognize it’s illegal (took you a while to get there, but you’re onboard now … at first it wasn’t; then, it was, but only in the “strict legal sense,” whatever that means; now it just is illegal and obviously was from the start. Glad we got that sorted out …), which means it’s wrong. On the other hand, that doesn’t seem to matter to you and you want to see more of it. I stand by my point that the standard you’d apply to “street art” is unworkable: “more wrong please, I kinda like it!”

            As to POP’s question, I think he put a false choice to us with the title of this post. Calling it any one of his three choices minimizes what this is: a crime. There’s a lot of vandalism around DC that I like on its artistic merits, but I don’t talk about how great it is because, as many have pointed out, that attitude works only until it’s your home that gets tagged.

    • definition of vandalism:
      “willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public or private property.”

      has nothing to due with whether the building is vacant or not. it’s also irrelevant whether the message is “profound” or not, whether it can be considered “art” or not, or whether the majority of onlookers enjoy it. It’s still vandalism and the punk who did it should have gotten spanked more growing up.

  • “Non-functional art is tolerated vandalism”
    – Type O Negative

  • I think I saw another one today on Love Cafe’s (15th & U) wall.

    It said:

    Adore it
    Love is
    Give in and
    Go for it

    And it has the B with the plus in the upper part and the minus in the lower part, along with a male/female sign and a heart with an X in it.

  • I’d like to know if Montana Matt would spray this shit all over HIS home and the front of HIS business if he finds it so attractive?

    I’m sure the answer is ‘no’, since (as joker points out), it would be sure to drive away your customers and bring down the whole neighborhood.

  • this is an interesting conversation. a few quick points:

    1- street artists generally respect one another’s work, so allowing an interesting piece to stay up is a better guarantee against future tagging then taking it down…. aka \buffing\ in street art lingo.

    2- all art, good or bad, is in the eye of the beholder. if you hate these pieces maybe that’s ok… but isn’t free speech central to democracy… shouldn’t folks be able to get messages out without having thousands of dollars to buy billboard space.

    3- street artists would do nicer and cleaner work if they didn’t have to race and look over their shoulders to make sure cops aren’t coming… i’m for decriminalizing street art and creating collaborative processes for deciding where it is and isn’t ok to post work.

    4- alot of the street artists i know respect the following code: no tagging houses; no tagging churches; try to stick to public property; don’t mar other people’s art… its like omar on the wire… \there has to be code\


    ps: if you are interested in seeing some beautiful art by street artists check out the \art in crisis\ show at busboys and poets on 5th and k. there’s also great street inspired art by the DC51 collective at Capitol Hemp in Adams Morgan– and tomorrow night, DECOY has her closing event at the Fridge in Eastern Market—- 6 pm…

  • Just put a new piece up where these were… also wrote a new poem tonight in need of editing and a title

    peace and love to petworth and beyond,

    URBAN HIEROGLYPHICS: a poetic collage

    street art
    hits the mind
    hits the heart
    write it down
    make it pop
    make it rhyme
    make it art

    i write
    because i am
    love and hate
    fast friends
    do it right
    go too far
    rule the night

    so seductive
    and emphatic
    deeply rooted
    changing hearts
    changing moods

    agitate devestate
    free your mind
    seize the time
    and demonstrate

    BYPO: c2010–Evolve or Die Trying

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