Before turning the page on graffiti…
One can’t think of graffiti art in New York without being reminded me of The Clean Train Movement (circa 1989). This broken-window-theory campaign sought to decrease crime and vandalism in the underground. As a result many graffiti artists had to find a different canvas throughout the city, making of roof tops their Billboards and the city landscape became their “street galleries”.
Before the Clean Train Movement, the streets of New York (and many other major American cities in America) were essentially untouched. As each train was scrubbed new, graffiti gushed onto the streets leaving a wide path of disgruntled citizens.
In 1995 Mayor Rudolph Giuliani established the Anti-Graffiti Task Force, a multi-agency initiative to counter the “problem” of graffiti vandalism in New York City. That same year the sale of aerosol spray-paint cans to children under 18 was banned. This became one of the largest anti-graffiti campaigns in U.S. history.
Moving forward in time, 2006 / NYC, legislation attempted to make it illegal for a person under the age of 21 to possess spray paint or permanent markers. The law outraged fashion and media mogul Marc Ecko who sued Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Councilmember Vallone on behalf of art students and legitimate graffiti artists. The law was stopped on its tracks.
Through the midst of past conflicts & controversy graffiti art has stood its ground and is now treated seriously by museums and galleries.
From pioneers such as Jean-Michel Basquiat & Keith Haring, to today’s most notorious Shepard Fairey and Banksy, graffiti art keeps transforming and is certainly going nowhere.