City vows to buff out graffiti, maybe as soon as January. What would you save?

Where do you draw the line between art and vandalism?


There’s a new sheriff in town y’all.

The city of Atlanta has organized an anti-graffiti task force to help give Atlanta a good, clean scrub. Word is the city and the four organizations it’s collaborating with, the Atlanta Police Department, Atlanta Public Schools, rail company CSX and Keep Atlanta Beautiful, think things have gotten out of hand and are planning new buffing efforts, likely beginning sometime late January.

George Dusenbury, commissioner of parks and recreation, which is leading the effort says, “It’s not a graffiti czar. As a city, we’re working toward goals of eliminating graffiti.”

So wait, how does Dusenbury define “graffiti”? “If you don’t have permission to do it, it’s graffiti. We know there are a lot of people who want to express themselves, while also recognizing there are people who don’t want paint on their buildings. We’re not trying to go after art. Our Office of Cultural Affairs has done a good job of recognizing the artistic component of what others consider graffiti.”

One other thing: The city is giving the OCA until Jan. 17 to come up with a comprehensive (though not guaranteed) list of “legitimate” art that should be spared. That’s about three weeks — over the holidays — to carry out an inventory of thousands of works across the city. By our estimation, it could take more like three months to do the process justice.

Currently, nonprofit community arts center WonderRoot’s working on a list for OCA of work it believes should be preserved since it’s not just random tags, spray-painted obscenities and other such vandalism that could get the brush. Among WonderRoot’s priorities is the mural running the length of Wylie Street in Reynoldstown. WonderRoot helped organize the mural in the summer of 2008 at the behest of the Reynoldstown Neighborhood Association, and enlisted 41 graf artists from around the country to paint the mural. Funding for the project was provided by Home Depot and CSX.

At this point, it doesn’t sound like the dozen murals commissioned through last summer’s Living Walls street art conference are in danger. OCA would also like to protect the Krog Tunnel. And when it comes to private property, that’s up to the property owner’s discretion. Anything beyond that, however, is unknown.

We want to know what you think:

Does Atlanta needs an anti-graffiti task force?

Where do you draw the line between art and vandalism?

And, most importantly, what work around town do you want to see stay? (Be specific, please: artist’s name, a description of the piece, and the nearest intersection — if not the actual address — would be helpful.) We’re gonna let WonderRoot know.

Feedback will be taken through the end of the month. The sooner the better.

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