San Francisco Graffiti

Laughing Squid recently had an article highlighting San Francisco Street Art & Graffiti Photographer Steve Rotman.

Here are some large excerpts and then my comment:

Plug1: San Francisco City officials claim graffiti complaints are way up this year. They claim The City is overwhelmed with graffiti removal requests from private citizens and business owners. Is there really more graffiti now than there was five years ago?

Steve: No, not even close! In fact, San Francisco’s never been more graffiti-free, thanks to several years of aggressive buffing. Just a few years ago, graffiti was ubiquitous: there were big colorful rooftop pieces in almost every neighborhood, parking lots were layered with years of history, business roll-down gates featured a steady rotation of throw-ups, there were doors crushed with tags citywide, and several Muni tunnels were painted end to end. Almost none of that exists anymore. The amount of graffiti today is exponentially less. It raises an obvious question: what’s all the fuss about?

Plug1: City officials say all we need to know about graffiti is that it’s illegal and it’s vandalism. What do you think?

Steve: That’s simplistic. Graffiti is obviously much more than criminal. It’s a worldwide renegade art culture that’s been around for decades. Graffiti is routinely exhibited in museums and art galleries all over the world. Bookstores feature shelves full of graffiti and street art collections. Graffiti festivals are commonplace. Graffiti-inspired designs infuse popular culture. Why? Because people enjoy it!

Plug1: What are some good locations to get a taste of the urban art you’ve been documenting in San Francisco?

Steve: Just for starters, I’d suggest Clarion Alley between Valencia and Mission streets. Also in the Mission, Lilac Alley between 24th and 26th streets. In the Soma district, Bluxome Alley at roughly 430 Townsend street. And in the Upper Haight, check out the Amoeba Records parking lot.

My comment:

Marking another person’s property without their permission is anti-social, ugly, and a crime.

Marking another person’s property with their permission has the ability to be art. Every example you cited, Clarion Alley et all all had permission.

The amount of graffiti today is exponentially less. It raises an obvious question: what’s all the fuss about

Ask that question to the hundreds of people in San Francisco that had to clean up these “artists” shit in the past week, replacing $1,000 windows, spending hours scrubbing with toxic chemicals and renting steamers and blasters.

One Comment

  1. Mark says:

    Sounds like this guy’s got a case of Stockholm syndrome. He seems to have been beaten down to the point where he is sympathizing with the criminals that do this. Sounds like his will has been broken. I personally refuse to call this art, or to recognize the ‘culture’ that it is part of as anything more than a disease in our society.

    And you don’t negotiate with diseases. You eradicate them.

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