a panel discussing the cultural importance and educational value of graffiti and you invited a Caltrans head? oh this ought to be good… and for the most part it was…save a few things mentioned below.
there is no doubt that the conference held at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy was in the right city to discuss these issues. the event began with the coordinator of the program addressing the audience (many who joined the event an hour into… gotta love LA, and comprised of super egos, talent, self appointed experts and martyrs, and just your average educational enthusiast trying to see if they could learn something and bring it back to the youth) disappointedly… within the first ten minutes of the doors opening someone had tagged the building, historic and sacred to many who do work there.
avoiding a close call of cancellation, we continued on the bumpy road. the highlight reel should read.
1) Caltrans representative Dan freeman plays the part of the “bad guy” to a T, but not before dosing off a nod or two while participating in the panel… to his defense, the panel wasn’t exactly begging for his continued input.
2) former President of the Cultural Affairs Commission of LA timely points out the “we need to take the existentialism out of graffiti..” i mean seriously folks.
3) O.G. cholo stylist and native of East LA Chaz Bojorquez hands out one of many “disses” of the day when he fuels the battle of the coasts with his comment that “… NY is still doing bubble letters…”
other highlights included artists Slick and Retna responding to inquiries on their proven credentials, as well as defending themselves and members of other crews, artists demanding answers to questions that undoubtedly left the lay person in the audience more confused… and a distaste for the high level of ego necessary? in graffiti…
bottom line. the discussion must continue. questions to be answered. what is graffiti? is tagging the same thing? what is art? what is vandalism? why do graffiti? does the intrinsic individualism equal embedded capitalism? and can we have this discussion without addressing political, social, economical, racial, and the other multitude of realities and issues…
what did we learn? that our students need to be a part of this dialogue. they need to help us answer some of these questions and help us creatively formulate solutions to some of the “problems” graffiti creates while it addresses, consciously or not…
p.s. suggestions for curricular ideas surrounding this topic welcome… without the existentialism!
p.p.s. couldn’t really comment on LA weekly and their important role with the excess of promoting that went on at the event but… read the article coming out soon by Shelley Leopold