The blue and white garage on the corner of 11th and Sheridan attracts graffiti. Its message, however, is indisputable. Blank walls are wack. In an urban environment they invite mischief. Gang members, taggers, graffiti artists, and anarchists all love blank walls.
The garage at 1402 S. 11th Street is a graffiti magnet. It has been many things over the years, including a car wash, auto security store, used car lot, body shop, and mechanic. When it was an auto security store it was decorated with a colorful graffiti-style mural. When that business closed, garage owners covered the mural with white paint. Now it is a vacant place for the outspoken to color up.
In June 2010, “Blank Walls Are Wack” showed up on the Sheridan side of the garage. Other writing soon followed, including vulgar language and the monikers of local taggers. Toward the end of the summer, owners painted over the mess with a new coat of white.
Recently, the garage attracted the attention of of another vandal who wrote “Blank Walls Are Still Whack.” Shortly afterwards, the Surenos staked claim and anarchists added that “All Cops Are Bastards.”
This week, after months of being a neighborhood blight, owners of the garage once again covered the graffiti with a new coat of white paint. Neighbors were surprised, as it seemed the problem was going to last forever. The new white wall, no doubt, will again attract vandalism. It’s only a matter of when.
So how do we fix the graffiti problem? Vandals rarely tag murals and the City of Tacoma has a mural program designed to reduce graffiti through community-based art. Currently the Tacoma Murals Project is accepting applications from potential artists. The application deadline is April 25, 2011.
Selected artists will participate in 40 hours of classroom instruction spread over five sessions. They will also collaborate on a training mural in 2011 and have an opportunity to work on a community mural in 2012. This is a wonderful opportunity for budding wall artists.
Check out the City of Tacoma’s Murals Project Call to Artists for more information. Blank walls are wack. Let’s paint them for the art of it.