• Is graffiti a crime or art?

    Date: 07.20.11 | by Judge Tom.

    A month-long exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles opened in April, 2011. “Art in the Streets” was designed to present graffiti in a historical and critical context. The exhibit presents the chronology of the development of street art as a contribution to contemporary art.

    Not everyone considers the celebration of “random vandalism” as a wise move by the arts community. The Los Angeles Police Department stated that they will arrest anyone caught defacing public space. Reports of tagging linked to the show have been made but are considered to be exaggerated. The Museum has a crew of workers ready to go out and paint over any graffiti in the neighborhood surrounding the exhibit.

    For more about the exhibit that runs through August, 2011, see here.

    "Art in the Streets" poster

    Supporters of the art form echo one art dealer’s view that “People have to realize that art has to start somewhere. Cavemen drew on walls.” See here for taggers-turned-artists whose work was shown in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.

    Where do you stand on this issue? Is there a middle ground in the debate? Is there a way graffiti can become more widely accepted without constituting a public nuisance? Or should all taggers be prosecuted for criminal damage or defacing property?

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    9 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Askthejudge.info
      Thu, 21 Jul 2011 at 12:43

      New blog post: Is graffiti a crime or art? – A month-long exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles o… http://ow.ly/1dTL6D

    • Oklahoma City Divorce Attorney Matt Ingham
      Wed, 27 Jul 2011 at 10:43

      When graffiti is an organized, community act it is art. When graffiti is a random act conducted by a punk kid who has a rebellious streak in him, it is a crime.

    • Nick
      Wed, 27 Jul 2011 at 10:51

      Should such cases not be resolved through two parties? I don’t think it is a crime when the ‘victim’ is perfectly happy to have the walls of his building made more attractive. Most of the street art we see is going over old run down buildings that can only be improved by Street Art.

      What would be the big deal if there was street art all over the city? I don’t think I would mind if it was thoughtful stuff.
      A case in point is the small town of Chemainus on Vancouver Island in Canada. This is the town that saved itself from extinction through outdoor murals. See here at: http://www.chemainus.com/
      Thanks, Nick, for your comment.

    • Heather B
      Thu, 28 Jul 2011 at 08:54

      Pesonally I love graffitti…when done properly it is creative and fun

    • Beth W.
      Fri, 29 Jul 2011 at 05:02

      Graffiti breeds disrespect for the law.

    • Vicki
      Tue, 02 Aug 2011 at 06:53

      When I was in school, graffiti was unheard of. It should still be that way.

    • Beth S.
      Wed, 03 Aug 2011 at 01:24

      I like graffiti. I think it’s creative.

    • Pam
      Wed, 03 Aug 2011 at 06:05

      Graffiti is a crime and it should be punished as a crime. I’m tired of seeing hoodlems destroy other people’s property.

    • Divorce Lawyers Tulsa
      Fri, 26 Aug 2011 at 09:05

      Graffiti is a crime and it should be charged as a crime.

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