Is Graffiti Always Vandalism or Can it Be Art?

Campbell Patch reader David Steele shared this image with us over the weekend. Do you have any images of similar graffiti in Campbell?

A black and white ballerina made an appearance under the E. Campbell Avenue bridge near Campbell Park, facing east.

Campbell Patch reader and blogger David Steele shared this image with us over the weekend and for us, begged the question: is all graffiti vandalism or are there some forms that are public art?

How does this ballerina, although pretty to look at differ from, say, the various incarnations of Felix the Cat? Or does it? That individual, Robert Saddik, racked up $30,000 in damages for various South Bay cities and was arrested in June by the San Jose Police Department.

On the flip side, museums like this one in Miami, Florida dedicate entire exhibits to showcase graffiti created by, in this case British graffiti artist Banksy.

You tell us, Campbell. Is there ever a time that graffiti is no longer vandalism but public art? Or is vandalism just that?

Deb R October 09, 2012 at 06:18 PM
I agree, Bryn - art on someone else's property is considered vandalism (defacing of property). I think there were two questions here: Is it vandalism? and Is is art? Yes, to both, unless permission is granted. That said, I'd like to see permission granted more often - what a great outlet for great talent. Short of that, graffiti artists beware (and most are - I'll repeat the earlier comment where many, even infamous, graffiti artists have done time for their deeds).
Alan Zisser October 13, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Some graffiti can be art but is all vandalism if done without permission. Even on public locations, residents have right to decide if graffiti art should be done. That is what community is about. And one man's art is another's scribblings. Tagging is destructive.
Mayra Flores de Marcotte October 13, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Oh Gini tell me how you really feel about the colored lights under Hwy. 17 ;)
Mayra Flores de Marcotte October 13, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Good point, Bryn! Not sure how I'd feel about that kitty stencil on my car ...
Mayra Flores de Marcotte October 13, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Alan, you bring up a really great point. Even if permission is granted, the resulting piece should at least be something most of the community will enjoy. Not to say that you can please everyone since art IS subjective. I wonder how cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York with their oversized urban murals, engage both the artists and the community?


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