Graffiti in Wausau

Eds Note: Being the editor of a public forum such as this brings interesting opportunities and challenges with it. One of those came across the transom in the last couple of weeks. Someone calling themselves “Wisconsin Resident” wrote and asked if I would be interested in a piece on graffiti here in Wausau. However, as this is technically an illegal activity they asked to be able to write anonymously. After some discussion with my “editorial board” I decided to go ahead with the article, which is below.

I do not know the identity of the author, so cannot divulge it, and everything which follows is the work and opinion of “Wisconsin Resident.”   It is said to be the first of a three part series, so stay tuned.  As always, if you have an opinion, one way or the other, drop your comments in the box.

By “Wisconsin Resident”

I walk across the 400 block in the summer of 2006 and notice something I have almost never seen in Wausau. Aerosol graffiti, stickers, tags written on signs and trash cans. Was I transported back to Milwaukee?

Some people call it vandalism — I call it the art of graffiti. What is this? How did it get here? It’s certainly a form of expression Wausau has been mostly immune to so far.

The word “graffiti” derives from the Greek word graphein meaning: to write. Graffiti has been on the rise in the Wausau area since this past summer. I first started seeing it around August. A lot of the activity is centered within a half-mile of the 400 block. Graffiti can come in many forms: markers, aerosol paint, glass etches, paint markers, stickers, and wheat pasted posters even. Most of these pasted posters are political, or socially motivated propaganda.

Click for Larger ImageMany people in Wausau mistake artistic graffiti for gang graffiti. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In Wausau, probably 95% of markings you see on the wall can be said to be artistic graffiti. Gang graffiti is usually very simple and defines a gang’s territory. Artistic graffiti, also known as “tagger” graffiti uses calligraphy, 3d lettering and shading, and complimentary color selections to create pieces of art. These ‘taggers’ typically pick a nickname or moniker (which explains the name of the style) and make that one word their own, finding different and unique ways to write and paint their signature tag. One tagger who has ‘gotten up’ in Wausau is named “Zeel”, he also spells it “Zeal”.

Click for Larger ImageWausau has had a graffiti mural for some time, but most drive by it without looking twice. Dwellers in Wausau had some acquaintances come in and paint a mural on their business. These were ‘tagger graffiti’ artists from a larger city.

Tagger graffiti has now made it’s way to Wausau. You may be asking yourself, from where? Through my social networking and immersion in the culture, I can tell you it can be traced back to Madison and Chicago artists. Now that these men have ‘jump-started’ the graffiti scene in Wausau, other kids who live here and have been interested in graffiti will now take to the streets. I have already seen evidence of this myself here. Some kids in our area don’t have the guts to go out and be the first, but now these graffiti veterans have opened the flood gates. For the majority of people who participate in graffiti, it is a non-violent form of artistic expression.

Walking around downtown you can see their monikers stylishly written on surfaces. You may see the names, WEEZY, DUES, ZEEL, ESOK, and JEH. (See Example D) Graffiti artist’s sometime hang out together and form what is called a crew. Crews go out and do graffiti together in a group. Crews have shown up in the local Wausau area in recent months, once again being traced to Chicago and Milwaukee as well as Madison. Two crews I have seen personally is SMC and POR/P7. SMC stands for ‘Subliminal Messages Crew’ from Milwaukee, and POR is ‘Prophets of Rage / 7 Posse’, from Chicago. Have these crews formed factions here in Wausau, or were these graffiti artist’s just passing through the area? That remains to be seen and I will have a better view come summer.

Many artists feel they are making the city they paint in more colorful. Business owners in the area typically don’t feel the same. Just ask Verizon and Crossroads Mental Health Services in Wausau who were the targets of graffiti last December. However, the graffiti that struck these two Wausau businesses was not the work of gangs, but again, the artistic work graffiti artists.

So next time your downtown in Wausau, keep your eyes peeled. Is it guerrilla art or is it pure vandalism? You decide. I vote art.

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57 responses to “Graffiti in Wausau

  1. Interesting article, but whether it is the work of gangs or someone’s idea of art, I feel that priority should be placed on catching graffiti artists and that they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, in addition to paying damages. I’ve seen graffiti in many different cities and countries. While it can be interesting and some is indeed very artistic, my belief is that overall it is very intimidating to many people because it screams lawlessness and disrespect to the property of others.

  2. In the case such as Dwellers where it was done with the permission of the building owner, it is art.

    When it is done without the owner’s permission, it is by definition vandalism and criminal in nature.

    One of the key components of our economic system is private property rights… without that, all else falls apart. If someone “marks” one of my buildings, I want them found so they can pay for the cost of returning it to the way I want it… MY BUILDING, I GET THE PAINT JOB I WANT.

    I am going to send our moderator examples of graffiti gone bad.

  3. While I can appreciate the artistic merits of graffiti art, I can ‘t condone the marking or tagging of buildings with graffiti. The initial artists in your article may have had noble intentions of “beautifying” the city, but what they have really done is to invite further destruction of property and the rest of us have to live with the consequences.

    I enjoyed the article and can’t wait for the other two parts, but if you want to celebrate graffiti as an artform, get yourself some chalk and go town on the sidewalks.

    A true artist is as concerned about the medium as the message. Graffiti artists don’t care about the medium.

  4. Jim, shall we prosecute Mr. Garvey then?

  5. In my experience with graffiti artists, those who graffiti private property without the permission of the owner are not respected, nor are the acts condoned.

    The modern version of the art form itself emerged when black and Latin youth in NYC in the 1970s started doing graffiti work – both the identificatory “tagging” and the more artistically ambitious variety – on abandoned buildings, decrepit subway trains and other symbols of their conscious abandonment of their communities by larger governmental and business forces. This process allowed talented artists to express their craft, and assert their continuing presence within a city that didn’t want them.

    By the way, many of those abandoned buildings came from landlords who torched them – and thus rendered their occupants homeless – in order to collect the decreasing insurance value, a move both tolerated and provoked by some within these cities’ respective infrastructures.

    Since then, whether at its most positive and most negative, graffiti has been a voice for those who, though marginalized and often disaffected, desire to express themselves and their skills in a fashion both unique and communal. Attacking graffiti or its creators seems, to me, to be – at best – assaulting a symptom without recognizing its root causes. At worst, it’s a means of further removing certain voices from the public conversation.

  6. I think the differance comes in public versus private spaces. And used versus abandoned buildings.

    I also say this…have the police stopped all the other crime, and now have time to move on to other things? I know for a fact drugs were sold and bought and consumed this morning in Wausau. Drugs were imported to our city probably today. Maybe a sexual deviant did something wrong today, and it goes unreported.

    I say this…let them paint the public spaces. I am sure Charlie and Heidi and I have seen some amazing examples of public spaces that have in fact been sort of given over to people to create and modify in new and exciting ways.

    For example, the underside of brides…lets paint that sucker up. Find a way to embrace it, rather than forcing the sherriff to chase kids with cans, because all know the kids can run faster and farther and get away 9 out of 10 times.

    Embrace art. Find ways to say yes.

    How it screams lawlessness is amazing, would we say Rudy Guiliani is a lawless mayor? Graffitti is all over NYC.

    I say again, find ways to make it a positve. Find ways to give people things to embrace.

  7. An interesting conversation, but I am unmoved. If someone paints graffiti without permission on property that does not belong to them, it is a serious act of vandalism and it should be treated as such. That there are other unrelated crimes occurring doesn’t change the fact that costly damage is being deliberately applied to private or public property without permission or authorization. Comparing this to a building owner who requests a mural is like to comparing rape to consensual sex, in my view.

  8. So we are clear then, what Jason had done is not intimidating and screaming lawlessness?

  9. Wisconsin Resident

    Let me add some more infomration for the sake of discussion. Some views expressed I don’t even disagree with.

    Graffiti should not be illegal in a Libertarian society because it is not a violation of private property rights, but rather it is akin to a liberation of stolen property from a coercive government.

    Graffiti is not such a social problem that needs to be addressed with increased government funding and social programs to eliminate it, but rather a governmental lack of justice, in which funding is coerced from the public to provide for “public goods” which the government expresses its authority over individuals to force inherent usages and purposes for said public goods. It is ludicrous to say that it should be illegal to use a book as a doorstop. rather than literary material, just as ludicrous as it would be to criminalize the use of a garbage can as a canvas, rather than a waste receptacle, except when it is in question as to who the book or garbage can belongs to. For only the private owner of any good reserves the right to dictate how it must be used, and stipulate who may or may not use it.

  10. Jesus, Rosenberg. What a poor choice of a metaphor – especially for a politician and businessperson.

  11. If you understood my meaning, then it was probably at least functional, but how about “roasting marshmallows around a campfire to arson”? (And since we’re trying to be sensitive, you might want to consider the first word in your own post and how some react to that kind of use, too…) 😉

  12. Okay, the WWJD? I doubt he’d ever stoop so low as using such a tasteless metaphor. And I bet he’d actually have the class to apologize. But that’s right, you’re a career politician, so we can’t hold you to the same standard. I guess WWJD stands for What Would Jim Do? Jim thinks someone objecting to crude metaphors involving a violent act against a woman as being “sensitive”. Well, yes it is a sensitive issue and you clearly are not.

    & Using a smiley at the end is just plain smug.

  13. It is not my usual place to step into these kinds of discussions, as some kind of moderator or “owner” of the blog, but I feel I must speak out here. What follows is purely a personal opinion.

    To compare a property crime like grafitti to the violent, emotional assault that is rape is completely inappropriate and insensitive. Frankly, in polite society, such a comparison should be as outside the pale as certain racial designations. Such a comparison minimizes a particularly heinous crime in such a way that can only be hurtful to the families, loved ones and especially victims of this widely misunderstood violent act.

    I do not believe in censorship and feel that the solution to inappropriate speech is more speech, not less. I personally feel that the original comparison was an egregious error. But I hope that perhaps some good can come out of that error. Rape is a crime that wounds the pysche more than the body and is therefore often minimized in our society. It is perhaps the most horrific crime that is underreported and in the past, even under prosecuted. Comparing anything else to rape is uncalled for, and in this case particularly so. Comparing a property crime which is generally repairable to to the monstrosity that is rape seems completely unreasonable to me.

    I sincerely hope that Mr. Rosenberg will reconsider his comment.

  14. While I do not agree that the comment is being taken in the context that I offered it, I can see that it has caused more than a bit of consternation and it has taken the conversation off topic. In deference to your opinion, Bill, I would therefore request that my comment be removed.

  15. So that was NOT an apology for comparing property damage to the rape of a man or a woman?

  16. Bill and Mark are exactly right about your comment, Mr. Rosenberg, and whatever “context” you meant it in, it’s completely insensitive, totally inaccurate and indicative of a *very* questionable perspective…

  17. I’m going to drop this after this comment, but I want to point out that I never compared graffiti with rape or placed them on a similar plane with respect to the gravity of the crime. I made another, totally different comparison of two things TO EACH OTHER to illustrate a gross difference. Some considered it pretty gross and for that, I apologize.

  18. Jim, I find your choice of words disturbing on many levels and hope you will consider an actual apology. Unfortunately, I know about rape as well as property damage and I would never talk about them in the same breath.

  19. You continue to miss the point, Mr. Rosenberg…

    Nobody’s suggesting that you’re comparing graffiti to rape. Still, when you suggested that the difference between owner-approved graffiti and illegal graffiti is comparable to that between consensual sex and rape, you hideously minimized the difference between consensual sex and rape. Illegal graffiti is, at the most, an inconvenient re-painting expense for the owner of the property. Rape is – as we’ve all said – perhaps the most hideous betrayal of humanity that one human being can be subjected to, with consequences that go far, far deeper than even the trauma of the event. There is absolutely no equity between your two comparisons, and your willingness to so casually toss rape into your flawed logic is very troubling.

    Your latest “apology” is once again completely insufficient, as far as I’m concerned: you say that you’re sorry that some of us found it “pretty gross” (a vast understatement, sir), yet you’ve yet to admit that you *yourself* now understand why the comment is offensive.

  20. As a politician, Mr. Rosenberg, you of all people should know that the intent behind the statement is not as important as the way it is received. The fact of the matter is that people, your constituency, were offended by it. So the way I see it, there are two choices…you can apologize for the statement in earnest sincerity or you can look like John Kerry.

    In politics, you don’t get to choose how people interpret your statements which is why most politicians speak so carefully. Once it is out there, you can’t take it back. (Nor should you be able to. It’s out there and it’s important that people see it. To remove the comment would be censorship.) And this is one of those moments for you. The question is how you will address the concerns of the people of Wausau?

    As a woman who was raped, I find your analogy personally appalling. The fact that such a comparison came into your mind in the first place is scary. It would be the same as if you were to compare a black man being lynched in rural Alabama to a child shoplifting a candy bar. It just doesn’t work. It’s just not okay.

    I realize you are, at this point, trying your best to cover your own hide with all the justifications, but it’s a little late for that. To apologize for the way people interpret your comment is a slap in the face to them…basically putting all fault on them instead of assuming it as you should be doing at this point. They didn’t make the comparison. You did. And as such, it is your burden to bear. The more you defend your comment, the worse it appears.

    Voters can forgive nearly anything, Mr. Rosenberg…except arrogance.

  21. Here is the original comment:

    “If someone paints graffiti without permission on property that does not belong to them, it is a serious act of vandalism and it should be treated as such. That there are other unrelated crimes occurring doesn’t change the fact that costly damage is being deliberately applied to private or public property without permission or authorization. Comparing this to a building owner who requests a mural is like to comparing rape to consensual sex, in my view.”

    It does not compare the property crime of graffiti to rape and it does not minimize the crime of rape.

  22. Far be it from me to try to bring something back to the point. But as I think I might have been the penny on the train track that brought this choo choo off the rails, I will try.

    First off, I posed the question in regard to Jason Garvey, and the graffitti on the side of Dwellers.

    I ask it again, as our city council representative Jim, and I am sorry your the target, but so it goes…is the act of painting grafitti on the side of ones own building creating as you say…”While it can be interesting and some is indeed very artistic, my belief is that overall it is very intimidating to many people because it screams lawlessness and disrespect to the property of others.”

    Who decides this? The purchaser? Community standards? The common council? Ed Gale? Tipple?

    Jason Garvey has painted a piece of grafiti on a downtown property. It is his property.

    You have said that you find that grafiti reflects lawlessness. Does Mr. Garveys mural create that impression? If so, what will the city council do about it?

    This mural is in prominent high traffic area, and while we all know it will not be there for long, thousands of eyes are exposed to it each day.

    As visitors come to our city to see the new building, they also see the mural.

    Is Mr. Garveys mural speech?

  23. Yes, in my view, I think that it is speech and I regard it as art. I actually like it. But I’ve been considering the subject of graffiti for a number of years and at times, I think the type and nature of the graffiti one encounters can be an important indicator of other things going in the neighborhood.

    Here’s something I wrote perhaps seven years ago on the topic, with respect to a specific neighborhood (not in Wausau):

    “A word about the neighborhood: this is not where to look for a great lunch spot or wander too far off the beaten path, in our humble opinion. It is certainly not a dangerous place to go for a morning or afternoon visit, but our take is that it’s a little on the seedy side too — based exclusively on our ‘feel’ for the street, our unscientific grafitti index, etc. Stay with the flow, go early and then move on to more reliable and pleasant environs. Outside of the cemetary walls, we don’t see this as a great area to spend time. ”

    There were other indicators in that particular neighborhood besides graffiti, but my take is that there are aspects to the practice that play into “the broken window theory” and that is why I feel so strongly that UNSOLICITED graffiti on the property of others or on public property is a very serious matter. Since I don’t see these types of property crimes as necessarily always occurring in an environment that is entirely independent from other types of crime, you’ll note that I associated it with potential aspects of personal safety in the discussion above. Others are free to disagree with what I readily described as “unscientific”.

  24. Looks like things are back on track again, let’s have the grafitti/property rights/art discussion again. I’ll put my whistle away.

  25. I’m sorry, but I don’t feel anywhere near ready to let Mr. Rosenberg – an elected representative of the city of Wausau – off the hook for either his original comment or his continuing refusal to acknowledge the storm of discontent – including from at least two assault surivors – that it provoked.

    If I’m not helping to “get things back on track,” then so be it.

  26. I have been thinking about this for a bit here, and I am really sorry in advance Bill.

    But I simply find it objectionable that Jim has thrown a crtiticism of Marks use of the word Jesus. Yet Jim is more than willing to embrace the use of the word and concept rape. And when people voice the displeasure that goes with that use, and that concept, even survivors of such an act…Jim fails to apologize. In fact I believe he is calling us all stupid for not getting his anaology.

    With Smiley in post you type about how people use the word Jesus…WOW. You feign or are really offended about marks use of Jesus. Yet even after people tell you that you have offended them in the use of RAPE as analogy, you refuse to apologize.

    Then in a post he calls the use of RAPE as functional. So he embraces the use.

    I find this objectionable. And I am a giant liberal left wing nut case.

    Using rape in any discussion, much less a polite discussion is the same as using any of the words that we as a polite society have left behind.

    I feel that this discussion has been poisoned by this cavalier attitude, and refusal to apologize.

    Sorry Bill.

  27. Executive privledge. I got my whistle out.

    Mr. Rosenberg has said that he did not intend to compare grafitti to rape, and the logical structure of his sentence does not directly compare the two. I will agree with those that say that using an emtionally loaded word like that in a public forum was an error. And I did say so in my earlier comment.

    I asked Mr. Rosenberg to reconsider his comment, and he did. He asked that it be withdrawn. I did not withdraw the comment, mostly because by that time, the “cat was out of the bag” at that point and not having the comment available would make people wonder what Mr. Rosenberg said that was so horrible. I feel comfortable in that decision, as Mr. Rosenberg quoted himself later in his own “defense.”

    But now it seems (as I put on my Kreskin hat) that Mr. Corvino wants to make Mr. Rosenberg himself the issue. Which, if that is what you want, I respect your right to do that. But not here and not now. If you would like to address Mr. Rosenberg personally, he has many ways in which he can be contacted. He has a personal blog which is linked to here. You can address him personally there or through his office, I am sure.

    Many people, including myself, know someone who has survived a sexual assault. The heinous nature of the crime cannot help but bring out a strong protective instinct from those who know and love someone who has been affected. Many of the comments express this powerful urge quite eloquently, and some not so eloquently. But all of them, and the responses to the responses (as it were) have that emotional context, and are not necessarily the carefully considered writings of a magazine article or speech. Not every word is going to “parse.”

    I will not say that the thoughts, feelings or attitdues of a public official are not germaine in a public discussion. They can be. But I would hope in a broader context than just a few comments on a tiny little blog.

    If someone would like to speak to the “issue” of using an emotionally laden word like “rape” in a public forum, I certainly welcome those comments. If someone would like to actually comment on the phenomenon of grafitti, either in general or here in Wausau, I would really welcome those comments.

    But in a similar way that I said to Mr. Rosenberg earlier, I hope that Mr. Corvino will reconsider his comment, and whether it would be more appropriate for a personal communication.

    It is my hope that we can disagree, even vehemently so, without beating each other up. If we can’t, I got better things to do with my time.

  28. Yikes, this has certainly degenerated into emotionally charged assault on Mr. Rosenberg, hasn’t it?

    Back to the subject at hand –
    I have read through all of the comments and there are really some interesting observations here.

    I think one of the key aspects of graffiti is the debate about public space and what exactly constitutes that. In our completely constructed system of private property, it’s hard to know where to draw the line.

    Take Dr. Rent’s comment, for example “MY BUILDING, I GET THE PAINT JOB I WANT.”

    In this world of private property, that’s true, the owner gets to choose the fate of the property – to an extent.

    But if Dr. Rent left a bunch of junk cars on the front lawn of one of his properties, he might just get an order from the city to get rid of them. The autonomous rule of private property only goes so far.

    Why? Because everybody else has to see it. Even though he has the rights to the ground, we are all privy to the view. So what exactly is ‘private property’ then? It just means you get to do whatever you want as long as you have the title? Sure does.

    Kinda sounds a lot like somebody saying “Because I said so,” which didn’t resonate with many of us as children and tends to do so even less now.

    Personally, I don’t have a lot of trouble following the rules but I know there are some folks out there who want to break a rule as soon as it’s made. Sometimes for no reason, but sometimes to prove a point.

    Graffiti, street art, in a lot of ways is an indictment of capitalism and private property. It addresses the idea of the commons in a way that gets to the core of the issue in a way that talking alone will never accomplish.

    It questions what people find pleasing. Who is to say that the paint job Dr. Rent opts for is any nicer to look at than a mural? Who is to say that Kayaker sculpture downtown consistutes art? What about the Dudley Tower? How come that gets to go up on the skyline of my hometown.

    Because somebody paid for it? Rings a little
    hollow. But, I also understand that it is the way our system works and generally the system works for me as well.

    But when it doesn’t work for you, and it doesn’t work for everybody. You don’t get much of a say in anything. If you don’t have any money, there’s not much of an outlet for you.

    That is why graffit is embraced by the disenfranchised and disgusts those who wish to control appearances.

    Those without an outlet will find it.

    Cover it up, paint it over, it just provides a clean canvas.

    In my opinion, Charles Hughes is absolutely right, “Attacking graffiti or its creators seems, to me, to be – at best – assaulting a symptom without recognizing its root causes.”

    One last thing – don’t confuse the style with the form. Just because the mural on the side of Dwellers is in graffiti style, doesn’t automatically make it graffiti. Graffiti has a specific connotation, unsanctioned, and that mural is certainly not graffiti. Graffiti style, yes. Graffiti, no.

  29. Well reasoned and insiteful. Pretty much covers the ground. Or the wall.

  30. For the purposes of this discussion we are calling the Dwellers mural grafiti.

    Mr. Rosenberg, you have defined it as art, and further as speech.

    So it is protected then. What one does to ones own building, aside from something decrepit, is ones own business.

    So for example, what if Jason chooses to put “STOP THE WAR” on the wall? Is that protected speech, and will you as a city councilman protect it?

    What if he was to paint a muralized version of a clothed pinup girl? Is that protected speech?

    I ask these questions because early on we define the mural as grafiti, and in the first comment you say that grafiti artists should be jailed.

    Then later you call it art, and say you quite enjoy it.

  31. Fine. I am sorry Jim. I mean it. I am going to go.

    Sorry Jim.

  32. If anyone wants more information on graffiti art and its history, I highly recommend the film STYLE WARS, along with the masterful book CAN’T STOP WON’T STOP: A HISTORY OF THE HIP-HOP GENERATION, by Jeff Chang. Chang’s book isn’t just the best book on graffiti I’ve ever read, it’s also easily the best history of hip-hop culture, and maybe the best work on the politics of the 1970s and 1980s. Intensely readable, too…

    I’m not gonna say any more at this time about the Rosenberg controversy. I stand by my earlier comments.

  33. Wisconsin Resident

    I am glad to see such strong opinions on my article. I like the discussion I am seeing! Here is my 2 cents on the issue of ‘private property’.

    The tag is a form of writing, a form of writing that is written upon a surface without permission. As something that occurs illegally, without permission, it is an act of transgression. What does it transgress? Physically, it transgresses onto the property of another. But the property owning other, as a distinct and concrete individual, is an unknown other. What is then transgressed is a general law, a logos of privilege and ownership — the property is not the property of the writer, and this is all the writer will generally know. All property is reduced to surface, to the body of a general other.

    The private status of this property is based upon the power to privilege and exclude. This exclusion is fundamentally enforced by the presence of others who’s allegiance sides with the property owner and the general law of private property. The writing that is tagging can only take place in the absence of these others — in the absence of the presence of the authority of the property, property law, or members of the repressive state apparatus: in the absence of those who would see, speak and act on behalf of the property owner and the general law of private property.

    Tagging is thus a writing that takes place in the absence of both the speech and the gaze of authority, a writing that occurs in the absence of hegemonic presence.

    Hopefully the second installment will be done for next week.

    Thanks everyone

  34. I do not think Chang’s book is all that good. I am really concerned that there is not a good hip hop book.

    I think that Nelson Georges books are way too academic.

    I am wondering if Toure has written a good book.

  35. wisconsinresident

    Private Property? Here is my 2 cents

    The tag is a form of writing, a form of writing that is written upon a surface without permission. As something that occurs illegally, without permission, it is an act of transgression. What does it transgress? Physically, it transgresses onto the property of another. But the property owning other, as a distinct and concrete individual, is an unknown other. What is then transgressed is a general law, a logos of privilege and ownership — the property is not the property of the writer, and this is all the writer will generally know. All property is reduced to surface, to the body of a general other.

    The private status of this property is based upon the power to privilege and exclude. This exclusion is fundamentally enforced by the presence of others who’s allegiance sides with the property owner and the general law of private property. The writing that is tagging can only take place in the absence of these others — in the absence of the presence of the authority of the property, property law, or members of the repressive state apparatus: in the absence of those who would see, speak and act on behalf of the property owner and the general law of private property.

    Tagging is thus a writing that takes place in the absence of both the speech and the gaze of authority, a writing that occurs in the absence of hegemonic presence.

    —-

    I see lots of great discussion about the article! Sadly I see many think ‘we’, meaning the representation of graffiti artists, belong behind bars and are great criminal’s in today’s society.

    On Jim’s comments… I feel he shouldn’t have used the words he did to make his point, but it’s not quite the deal some are making it to be. That is where I will leave that.

    Keep up the great points guys! I will hopefully be able to finish the second installment for next week.

    -WR-

  36. I think your right on Dude. But I also think that your about to get slammed by several owners of property.

    I own a small amount of property. And if someone painted the surface of my car, I would look at it unhappily.

  37. Personal taste aside, and respected, I think Jeff Chang’s book is easily the best-written, best- argued and best-researched on hip-hop. Anybody who wants to read about the culture, particularly its earlier days, will get more out of CAN’T STOP WON’T STOP than they will out of any other relevant work. In my opinion, at least.

  38. wisconsinresident

    Oh I know I will indeed get slammed by people who own properties. I don’t even disagree with the point of view of property owners. In my mind it comes to this, where else is it going to go? Is arts block going to allow us an exhibit, is the Woodson going to support showing our work? Even in urban cities this rarely happens let alone conservative Wausau. I will acknowledge there is research showing an increase in graffiti vandalism by means of ‘glorifying’ and ‘promoting it as an art’ through exhibits and mass media exposure. With that said, I would love to see a medium where we can expose are work to the public. I am not one to ‘encourage’ illegal graffiti like some are. Your so-called ‘hardcore’ graffiti writers believe graffiti isn’t graffiti unless done illegally. These artist’s are really driven by the sociological theory behind the art form. This was shown when a famous NYC tagging crew named ‘TATS’ was paid nicely by an advertising firm to do legal murals for major corporations like General Motors, and Coca-a-Cola. They were hired to reach the younger urban demographic. Within days of these murals being painted other artist’s came and defaced them. They disowned both the products being displayed, (Coke and a H3 Hummer) as well as disowning the TATS crew, calling them a sellout. The TATS crew is on the artistic side of the fence, while the folks who defaced the mural on those on that sociological side of the fence. I would be all for a legal medium in any venue across the country

  39. I think Charlie your probably right. For me though, what I really want is a great bit of hip hop writing. LIke Azzerrrad did.

    I know I do not read enough Hip Hop writing though to be frank, because the bar is so high that the journalists have a hard time. I mean given what Rakim can do with a pen, what can be critical of that.

    You know?

  40. If I could get away with it, I’d paint my car in paisleys and my house in orange with a violet porch and turquoise trim, to start.
    But I abide by all these blasted societal rules, spoken and unspoken, that allow me to walk around in disguise, and my house is white and my car is gray.
    Not that I like it.
    This city needs color, it needs art. It needs its heart and soul fed. It needs food that makes people swoon and music that sends shivers up and down people’s spines.
    IMO, an artist is by nature subversive, subjective, and does not care about being part of the status quo. Artists breathe life into a community and create wild discussions and quizzical contemplations for the good of all.
    Nuts, it’s late and I wanted to say more, but oh well.

  41. Wow.. I leave town for one weekend and…

    I am not saying there is not artistic merit.. there is. I am fascinating watching a train go by that has been tagged and some of it is remarkable artwork.

    And Dwellers was at the request of the property owner, with their permission.

    We are a civilized societies and we have laws. The laws state I can do what I want with my property as long as it does not violate the rights of others (hence the cars being illegal).

    Paint an owners building without his permission, then you should pay to have it painted back. Simple

  42. Wausau has an amazing number of ways to let your artistic side free- without using other people’s property as your canvas.

    Class can be found at the CVA, The Woodson Art Museum, The Bluegreen Gallery, The Waterstreet Gallery, UWMC, The Bead Shop, Clay Corner and more.

    As for an exhibit of grafitti art- call the CVA, I bet they may just go for the idea. They have two galleries that show local artists and students. I would certainly be interested in an exhibit.

  43. Lisa,

    I believe the post you meant to link (the one pertaining to this discussion) is:
    http://seveninchesofsense.mu.nu/archives/215902.php

    And to the administrator of this blog, I’m sorry for posting a link in your comments as it is something I would normally never do, but I’d noticed some wayward traffic from this blog and thought I would point them in the direction of the post relating to this particular conversation. Feel free to remove it if you find it inappropriate in any way. Thanks.

  44. Wow, what a joke…. Mr. Rosenburg nailed it in his first reply, period. Graffiti done without permission from a private property owner is a criminal act. What in the hell is so hard for you bleeding hearts to understand about that?
    It’s also a criminal act when done on city/government property. Again, just what’s so difficult to understand? Last time I checked, there are plenty of places for these “talented” artists to display their “work”. Certainly it must be someone else’s fault these criminals seek to deface public and private property. Perhaps they were artistically shunned by their grade school art teacher, or maybe their high school art teacher? Maybe the asbestos in the walls and the lead in the school paint made them do it!
    No, wait…..it’s a right-wing conspiracy by Micheal’s, Walmart, OfficeMax and all of the other capitalist companies because they refuse to give away canvases, paint, brushes and other art supplies to the troubled youth that need ways to express themselves.
    Ugh…..what a crock.

  45. Name one place, or one author, where any kind of “right wing” vs. “left wing” argument was mentioned. Oh, right: it *wasn’t*. Please…

  46. Sweet Mary Full of Grace, I am sorry to revisit this, but oh why not.

    John, I think the sort of aspersions you blanket this issue with are really kind of mis guided. But fascinating in a morbid sort of way.

    I do not think I was ever disputing the argument that grafiti is illegal, I think it is in the very definition of the word.

    When I took umbrage to Mr. Rosenbergs comment about the R word it was merely a sense of shock. I was astounded that someone would actually use that as an illustrator in a comparison, especially someone like Jim.

    But John, I think your mocking tone somehow defeats the civility we have tried to maintain here. Even in the reprimanding of Rosenbeerg by the herd we sort of kept it civil.

    Your aggressive tone and mocking inferences somehow seem to lessing this discussion which had righted itself as most conversations will.

    I hope that the owner of this blog, Bill, would take down all the comments on this thread. I know it is a form of censorship, but I fear we will not get the remaining work from Wisconsin Resident on this issue, since this post turned so sideways.

  47. I’m sorry, Dino, but – if Bill takes down the comments on this thread – I will be very unlikely to visit WausauBlog again. The answer is *more* conversation, not less…

  48. I worry though, did we lose the point in Rosenbergs misguided comment, and the really appropriate reaction to it.

    I had wanted to get into the speech debate, what is speech, and I really wanted to get into the Flashing Sign argument.

  49. Two things:

    1)Rosenberg’s comment, and the reaction to it, is just as significant an issue.

    2)As far as I can tell, the discussion has gotten back to graffiti just fine. Even “John,” despite his snarky tone, was mostly addressing the graffiti discussion, not the rape question. It’s actually *your* remark, Dino – about possibly removing this thread of comments – that reintroduces the Rosenberg issue…

  50. Good point. Back to it then.

    John, The definition that we choose to apply to art, and what are is and is not, is somehow at the heart of this issue. Regardless of politics, I think the world is a better place if a child has crayons. If a teen needs a paint can, maybe we as adults need to find and encourage safe and legal ways to express themselves.

    Or maybe we need to say, put the can down, and here is a brush.

    We have so few child art advocates, I think more people need to find a way to support young people. As we all know the chorus of every 13 to 18 year old is that there is nothing to do here.

    The Rosenberg comment has gotten some legs on other blogs, like the one Joan mentioned, and a few others. Sorry Charles. Good correction on behavior though.

  51. Don’t worry all the comments stay except in extraordinary circumstances. Be careful before you hit “submit.”

    We liberals like free speech.

  52. So I am convinced that Burt is a CIA operative, sources say a recent poster is also a CIA operative, is Burt reading the Wausaublog

    Burt are you out there?

  53. Careful Dino, if you are the one to let the cat out of the back.. you could be shacking up with Scooter

  54. I stand with the Bees, if that makes me an enemy to the CIA, then so be it.

    If sacrificing my life will lead to the illumination of the plight of the bees, I will gladly fall on my sword.

  55. I know this subject has passed for now… but I found this really cool site…
    http://graffiticreator.net/

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