Archive for the ‘Canadian Graffiti’ Category
Those trying to scratch out a living as graffiti artists have new hope thanks to classes funded by taxpayer dollarsFriday, May 9th, 2008
By JOE WARMINGTON [Via:www.torontosun.com]
Graffiti art classes for children offered by the City of Toronto, the Sun has learned, are all full for 2008.
How do you like that news flash, folks? But there is always next year.
Sign up early though, because this seems to be a popular program where paid instructors teach our youth how to become good graffiti artists! No word if that pay comes out of the lifeguard budget from any of Toronto’s closed pools.
Just what the city needs. More graffiti. Walk around any neighbourhood and you’ll see what seems to be a few artists already engaged.
You call that art! There’s lots of debate about the outside wall of colourful swirls and unique stylings on a business on Dundas St. W., near Jane St.
As far as the City of Toronto is concerned what looks like graffiti is classified as art in the same city which in the latest Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Fun Guide offers free graffiti classes for kids ages 9 to 15 on the same page as traditional pursuits like ballet, boxersize, yoga and drama.
Your tax dollars at work, since these courses are being taught at the Fairbank Memorial Community Centre or the Ancaster Community Centre. “This is how wacko this city has become,” said Councillor Rob Ford. “I know about this program. It’s unbelievable and embarrassing.”
Meanwhile, decide for yourself about the outer wall of Dynamic Iron Ltd. at 3605 Dundas St. W. by watching a video at torontosun.com.
Neighbours Tara Lawless and Mike DaSilva call it “modern art.” Peter Stepura retorted it’s nothing but gang tagging.
The City of Toronto bylaw enforcement office has actually called it both in a strange series of events for the Mrsic family who have been doing business there for almost 50 years — never once missing a tax payment.
For years, they have been targeted by late night spray painters who have made a nice neighbourhood look seedy and cost the business thousands. “Every day there would be something new painted on there,” said co-owner Mary Mrsic. “We would paint over it but they would do it again.”
Not sure what to do, they came up with a smart solution — if you can’t catch them, hire them. Mary and husband Tom paid their own crew of graffiti artists who painted a permanent graffiti mural on their wall.
“There were eight of them,” said Tom, adding though he doesn’t know what any of the graffiti means, he does know no one has come back to paint over it.
But on March 17, came a City of Toronto notice of violation: “In order to bring this matter into compliance all graffiti is required to be eradicated,” it said, also warning if the scrawls were not off the wall by March 23 the city would paint over it and “apply the costs incurred to your municipal tax bill.”
But there was a way out, highlighted in the very next paragraph.
“If it is your contention that the graffiti should be considered an art mural and exempt from the above requirement, you may request that the issuance of this notice of violation be reviewed by your local community council.”
The Mrsics just followed the rules set out by the city and won the vote of councillors 6-to-5, which means the graffiti can stay and it is now considered art.
They would prefer a more traditional mural but if the taggers will leave alone their building, they are happy with that.
Ford called it crazy: “Instead of getting after these thugs with more police and bylaw officers and cleaning this stuff up, the city has thrown in the towel on the graffiti fight.”
However, perhaps the “artists” doing this will come from the 2008 graduating class of the City of Toronto’s graffiti program.
Two members of the hardcore punk band Liferuiner were among four men arrested and charged in connection to a “rampant graffiti spree” in The Queensway and Islington Avenue area.Toronto police arrested the four men Saturday night in Uxbridge after the band played a show at a local pub, on the cusp of embarking on a 43-city tour through Canada and the United States.
Police broke the case after a recent mischief call to a residence in the area of the graffiti.
“We got a routine call and through our investigation one thing leads to another and you discover who’s been doing what,” Const. Shannon Smith of 22 Division said yesterday. “It was a lot of luck, and hard work.”
Danny Surjanac, a singer with the band, and Shane Tyrer, the band’s drummer, each face 28 counts of mischief under $5,000.
Ryan McCarney and Sterling Healey face the same charges.
Smith said it’s “rare” for police to break graffiti cases. “It is a difficult case. It’s difficult to find witnesses. It’s done under the disguise of night.”
Police counted 71 graffiti signatures known as tags within a three-block radius of The Queensway and Islington Avenue, Smith said.
The graffiti is not gang-related, Smith said.
Typically it is youths, not gangs, who paint tags in Toronto, police said.
Numerous businesses in the area, including a now-vacant meat deli and a closed interiors business, have been spray-painted with the tags, “Riff Raff,” “GYS”, “Get Loose!” and “Cahoots!”
Trini Gardens Restaurant has been tagged three times, said manager Elsie Nagassar.
“The graffiti has been going on since last summer,” Nagassar said. “My landlord has cleaned it up twice.”
A City of Toronto bylaw requires owners to maintain their properties free of graffiti.
Municipal licensing and standards officers can issue compliance notices to property owners to remove graffiti.
Failure to comply can lead city MLS staff to remove the graffiti, and pass the cost onto property owners on their tax bill.
Whether any tagged businesses received city compliance notices was not known yesterday prior to Guardian deadline.
The tagging is throughout the area, on walls, signs and vehicles.
“It was done all over, on mailboxes, back fences,” Nagassar said. “There’s a new computer store down the street that had just renovated. There was graffiti sprayed all over the glass windows before it even opened.”
More charges could be pending, Smith said.
But arrests alone don’t stem the tide of graffiti in the city. In large part, police say, because the criminal justice system metes out suspended sentences for graffiti vandalism, except in cases of hate crime tags punishable by jail time.
“It’s definitely an ongoing frustration,” Smith said. “These businesses are shelling out a lot of money to have it cleaned off. It’s not fair that they should have to take care of it.”
Take a look at Toronto City Hall and what do you see? An architecturally unique government building or a massive canvas awaiting a graffiti artist’s touch?
The facade of City Hall was given a temporary facelift early yesterday morning as out-of-town graffiti artists tagged its east tower with a laser pointer and projector in lieu of the traditional spray can of paint.
Projecting phrases of political protest and vulgar humour, the pair attracted the attention of dozens of onlookers on the street, countless confused gawkers from apartment blocks across downtown, and three Toronto police officers who urged the high-tech artists to keep their messages clean.
Using technology he pioneered himself, Evan Roth, founder of New York City’s Graffiti Research Lab, took to Bay St. shortly after midnight Sunday morning with $9,000 worth of equipment for projecting handwritten messages and illustrations.
Throwing phrases like “POLICE STATE!” and “COPS PIGS” onto the side of David Miller’s office block, Roth and another New York-based artist named Katsu had passing cars and pedestrians stopping to marvel at their work
“Society has been told to see graffiti as unacceptable,” said Roth, 30, who was in Toronto to speak about his laser tagging technology at the weekend’s FITC Design and Technology show.
“But with the laser tagging, it’s seen as more socially acceptable because it doesn’t leave a mark.”
Socially acceptable, until Katsu attracted the attention of Toronto police when he started drawing a series of phalluses and derogatory phrases into the Toronto skyline.
“Freedom of speech is one thing, but you can’t show anything that’s obscene or has a hate bias on there,” said a polite but adamant John Liska of Toronto police
“If you start doing that, then we’re going to have to shut you down.”
Roth, who has projected such images on edifices across the globe, from Brooklyn Bridge to the Coliseum in Rome, said he has received rougher treatment elsewhere.
“The cops in Barcelona took our equipment away, then charged us to get it back.
“These cops here were pretty cool,” he said.
Roth’s graffiti-cum-lightshow has earned him a cult following on YouTube, where he posts videos of his exploits from around the world.
His method is simple.
He scopes out a city for an appropriate building or structure and aims the projector at the surface. Artists then flick a laser pointer across the surface of the targeted building, drawing an image as if they were writing on paper with a pen. The projector captures the movement and traces the line of the laser onto the structure allowing the artist to paint an image in light.
Though he’s seen by some as an evolutionary graffiti artist and not a vandal, Roth says his principles are in line with those of all artists who stand to express themselves on public and private property.
Roth, who also targeted the CN Tower on Friday night but found its narrow structure and heightened security a hindrance to his methods, says he purposely chooses targets that are inaccessible to more traditional artists.
“The bigger the better, you know, especially if it’s some big pristine structure that people hold holy.”
By Jim Goddard
The Vancouver Police Department’s Anti Graffiti Squad loves it when spray painters have a unique style. That’s because the squad has built up an extensive database of tags and graffiti that connects those spray painted or felt pen markings to an individual. More than 800 unique tags and graffiti scrawls are in the computer.
Constable Jana McGuinness says the police department does not look at graffiti as being art, but rather, a serious act of criminal mischief, “Absolutely, we would encourage people to report any activity like that, because that is considered a mischief when they’re defacing property. Whether it’s with a felt pen, a coloured marker or spray paint, it’s something we’ll follow up on.” McGuinness says while the graffiti writer might think it’s art it can cost thousands of dollars in damage.
By Katrina Swift
Mayor Gérald Tremblay may have a tough time of it as the city launches its annual campaign to clean up graffiti.
Walk through practically any Montreal neighbourhood and you’ll see graffiti – walls are covered with it, bus shelters and garage doors scattered with names, scribbles and scratching.
Question is, why do young people go out in the middle of the night, risking arrest and fines, to paint on the sides of buildings?
“Street art teaches a lot about impermanence and not being attached to the art that you’ve done, because it can be taken off really easily or painted over,” says Lola, a soft-spoken graffiti artist now awaiting a court date after being caught one winter night.
For her, graffiti is like therapy, a way of expressing her emotions and communicating anonymously with others.
“It’s just a release,” she says.
A destructive release, many might say, but that hasn’t stopped its popularity from growing. “It’s definitely flourishing in this neighbourhood,” says Michael Deserres-Kohn of the SubV boutique on Sherbrooke St. W. The store sells paint supplies and graffiti-inspired clothing.
“Day after day, there are a ton more kids coming through all the time, spending all their allowance on spray paint and markers.”
According to police Commander Eric Lalonde, there were 335 arrests for graffiti on Montreal Island in 2007, up from 186 in 2005. The higher number, Lalonde says, is due in part to increased publicity encouraging people to report graffiti.
Most of the cases involve minors, who are usually charged with mischief and fined up to $100. Adults may receive suspended sentences and are asked to pay for the cleaning, Lalonde says, while minors are asked to write a letter of apology and sometimes do community work.
“Graffiti at its root is definitely vandalism,” admits Deserres-Kohn, himself a local graffiti artist who does it legally and is often paid for his work.
For some younger graffiti artists, spray-painting a piece of a building is about doing what friends do; for others, it becomes an obsession. A veteran graffiti artist, Bruce (not his real name), says he would leave the house at midnight to do his tagging, unable to stop himself from getting his name out there, even after being caught several times by police.
Being arrested for the first time has stopped Lola. “Since I’ve been caught by cops in my area, I haven’t really gone out because I’ve been kind of terrified of being caught again.”
And, from time to time, all that illegal graffiti experience can be turned into something more constructive. Bruce is now creating graffiti murals on contract. Deserres-Kohn has worked for Tandem N.D.G., a youth crime-prevention program, doing murals around the area. “There’s definitely some really positive sides to the kind of graffiti movement in the neighbourhood,” he says.
All of them continue to be captivated by the practice of graffiti, and a bit mystified by its allure.
“Some people maybe just do it to express themselves, some people as a release, some people because … it defines who they are and they just have to keep doing it,” Bruce says. “Some people, it’s just for their ego.”
For the younger ones, Lalonde says, it might be part of growing up and is rarely associated with gangs.
First of all, it’s forbidden, so it’s a challenge, he says. “I think they are in a period of their age when they want everyone to know, ‘I’m alive! I’m here!’ “
City set to crack down on graffiti
Spring has sprung in Calgary and so has the potential for more graffiti artists, says the city’s bylaw boss, who will deploy 25 more officers this month to help crack down on lawbreakers.
Director of bylaw services Bill Bruce said 25 newly trained officers on foot and mountain bikes will begin patrolling the Beltline and downtown at the end of this month to help respond to issues ranging from pathway safety to animal offences, with an emphasis on graffiti complaints.
“It’s an ongoing problem — it’s something our public won’t tolerate,” Bruce said of the vandalism, adding the department issued 80 charges for graffiti last year and that getting caught in the act can lead to a $5,000 fine.
Though bylaw officers are out in full force every day, the kind of tickets that are issued vary by season, Bruce said.
Graffiti artists, for example, tend to come out in the spring and summer months.
“It’s hard to spray paint in cold weather,” Bruce said.
“Spring and summer we get really busy because we get more issues of graffiti, littering … bike path safety.”
He added the department works closely with cops to investigate graffiti complaints to determine if they are connected to other similar instances of the vandalism or is gang-related.
The warm weather also leads to more tickets being issued for animal violations, Bruce said.
“It’s spring, yes, and good to be outside with your dog, but let’s make sure they are on a leash when they are supposed to be and pick up after your dog,” he said, adding not leashing a dog can lead to a $250 fine.
“That’s why we have off-leash areas, on-leash areas, and wildlife areas only,” where it’s advised dogs and wild animals don’t mix, he said.
Bylaw officers will also keep an eye out for pathway safety, monitoring such infractions as people not sharing pathways or speeding on bicycles, which can lead to a $100 to $200 fine, he said.
Though members of the public are encouraged to call 311 to report a violation, the 25 officers on patrol will provide extra sets of eyes to be able to respond to offences quickly, as well as allow people to stop them on the street to file a complaint.
Bruce said it’s all a part of helping all Calgarians enjoy the season.
“We’re driven by three drivers: public health and safety, protection of the environment, and protection of city infrastructure,” he said.
The city of Montreal will invest another one million dollars to clean up graffiti off buildings.
The city’s point man on cleanliness, Marcel Tremblay, is confident the city will win what he calls the war on graffiti and the one million dollar investment will help in the battle.
He is suggesting the government regulate the sale of spray paint and start fining parents who’s kids are caught tagging city property, to the tune of two-thousand dollars.
Somebody is getting paid off graffiti cleanups…:p
Graffiti artists have been put on notice.
Spray painters who are caught with a can in their hand will be charged with mischief.
“There will be zero tolerance for this. We will capture and prosecute,” said Mayor Vic Fedeli, following Tuesday’s North Bay Police Services Board meeting where he raised the issue.
“We’re at the beginning of a slippery slope. We must act with a firm hand and take a good look at our bylaws.”
Fedeli asked police Chief Paul Cook for support to deal with the problem.
A committee, made up of the city’s public works department and police, will research how other communities are dealing with the problem of “tagging” and assess the amount of graffiti in the city.
Fedeli said council may revisit the bylaw and consider new regulations that would place a minimum age on people buying spray paint. Fedeli said the city may consider a 48-hour time period for business owners to clean graffiti on their properties.
“Within the last week, the amount of graffiti in the city has noticeably increased,” Fedeli said. “It’s not yet critical, but it has advanced.
“We’re getting close to the tipping point. Hydro poles, the Ontario Northland sign, Oak Street, Lee Park and buildings in West Ferris have all been hit.”
He said graffiti painted on city property is immediately removed.
Cook said police have also noticed an increase in graffiti, however businesses are not reporting the acts of crime to police.
He said street crime units have recently been assigned to areas hit hard by vandals.
According to February’s crime report, the number of criminal offences dropped to
416 in February from 461 during the same time in 2007. Wilful damage, which includes vandalism, was among the categories reported to have an increase in activity.
There were 51 occurrences this February compared to
34 over the same period in 2007.
onst. Aaron Northrup said graffiti seems to be coming from four or five people leaving messages around town.
“It’s tough to catch them because they usually do it during the middle of the night,” he said.
“Most of what’s being written is about territory. Essentially they’re saying don’t come into my area of town and tag in my territory. They’re using street names and we can usually source back through witnesses.”
Anyone caught vandalizing property could face a mischief charge and depending on other factors could be given a penalty ranging from probation to jail time.