"Merete Kristiansen and Kate Barron may be on the verge of revolutionizing the Canadian art world."
- anne watson, the vancouver observer
october 29, 2012
Agnes Hanna has dealt with her fair share of graffiti in the 54 years that she’s owned the two-storey building at 895 Queen St. West.
Indecipherable scribbling has been spray painted on her front door. Walls have been tagged. She’s removed the graffiti every time, disappointed that people could be so careless, so “cruel.”
But now, after the city issued an order for her to remove the latest smattering of paint from her property — thick orange letters painted on the west side of her building near the roof — the 75-year-old landlord has changed her perspective. She wants to keep it.
“It’s very nice, artistic, not-scribbled art,” Hanna said. “This is sort of pretty.”
The piece of graffiti is one of nine to be discussed at this week’s meeting of the city’s new Graffiti Panel. The five-member board of city staffers will rule for the first time on whether such murals constitute street art, or vandalism. It’s the culmination of the city’s new graffiti approach, in the works for more than a year.
“It’s a great new thing,” said Robert Sysak, executive director of the West Queen West Business Improvement Area, which is supporting Hanna’s Graffiti Panel application to “regularize” the painting on her building. “It’s a move in the right direction for sure.”
Graffiti was highlighted at City Hall after Mayor Rob Ford was elected. In his inaugural speech, he spoke of the need to reduce graffiti.
In June 2011, a report on Toronto’s graffiti policy recommended the creation of a panel that would allow property owners to apply for permission to keep graffiti on their buildings. Previously, violation notices were issued when graffiti was spotted, and owners were ordered to remove it at their own expense. Hanna said she has had to pay more than $90 an hour to have it removed.
According to the report, the city spends more than $1 million per year to clean up graffiti and enforce the rules. It noted that many businesses were “re-vandalized within a very short time” of removing graffiti.
For Sysak, the new rules — which went into effect Jan. 1 — will give people more of a say in how to deal with graffiti on their property.
“It’s an opportunity for businesses and artists to put some work up,” Sysak said. “It’s a progressive thing.”
Business owners like Hanna argue that acceptable graffiti not only looks nice, but also prevents there being a blank canvas for itinerant vandals to repeatedly tag.
“It might not be Picasso, but it’s a million times better than the random vulgar graffiti that kept popping up in the past,” wrote the property owner at 947 Kingston Rd. in her application to the Graffiti Panel to keep the mural on the side of her business.
The panel is slated to meet Friday, Nov. 2, at 9:30 a.m.
Under the new rules, the city defines “graffiti art” as: “Markings made or affixed to property that are approved by the property owner or occupant, where the markings aesthetically enhance the surface they cover and the general surroundings, having regard to the community character and standards.”
Graffiti “vandalism” is: any markings not currently exempted or regularized by the city, and was either made without permission of the property owner, is considered to be a “tag,” is believed to possibly “incite hatred or violence” or “contains profane, vulgar or offensive language.”
via: the toronto star