The sale of spray paint was outlawed by city ordinance. Hundreds of dollars of paint are needed for each coverage of the Artisan Stoneworks wall. Credit: Patrick Boylan
Is there a difference between graffitti and a mural when the style of art is the same? In a survey complete earlier this year The Bulldog found relatively few examples of criminal damage done to buildings on main streets in Ravenswood by graffitti.
Summer brought more graffitti to more of the neighborhood. However the city has worked hard to clean graffitti. Ald Dick Mell (D-Irving Park) was among the key sponsors of ordinances aimed at reducing graffitti and remains an opponent of graffitti.
Ald Eugene Schulter (D-North Center) was a key sponsor of other ordinances aimed at beautifying the city.
And, the Ravenswood area is relatively free of gangs.
This all contributes to a community that is not harrassed by graffitti and tags. If the idea that a broken window on a street contributes to the impression the street and neighborhood are in decay, the aggressive stance of political leaders and the ward supers is keeping the area free of what everyone admits is a property crime.
Earlier this year The Bulldog caught up with a group of mural artists working on the Artisans Stoneworks mural, 3628 N Western Ave. The group of young adults were repainting the south wall, facing the Wendy's parking lot.
For understandable reasons they asked that they not be named in this story.
As they discuss in the video with this story, the wall is repainted about once a month until the weather makes that impossible.
The accompanying video has some of their words for what they are doing.
They made the point that there are key differences between their work and tagging done by individuals and gangs. There are examples of such destruction in the video.
A key difference is that the owner of Artisan Stoneworks has encouraged the use of the wall for these artists. The artists we talked to said that the precence of this wall has sharply reduced overall graffitti in the Ravenswood area because people who want to do graffitti art have a place to do it.
They asked the community to make other walls available for similar projects.
Is it art? Is it destruction? Should the community encourage murals like Artisan Stoneworks?