Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Graffiti, street art, or clever advertising?

Or all three?

You decide.

I saw this on the sidewalk by San Antonio College facing San Pedro. What's interesting about this piece is that it doesn't involve adding anything to the public walkway (paint, chalk, what have you). In fact, it involves taking something away.


Yes, it seems that this was made with a stencil that was pressure-washed, cleaning the exposed areas of the sidewalk and leaving the rest dirty. It's semi-permanent, but the advertisers did not do anything that was technically "graffiti". They actually cleaned a little bit of the public space, but they did it in a way that promotes a specific event.

What do you think? Clever tactic, or just another way to get away with marking up public property?


Anonymous said...

I think that they should be doing their stencils the other way around. They should have to clean the entire sidewalk surface, but could leave the logo covered, and not cleaned, so the remaining dirt would spell out the logo. Just a thought...

Anonymous said...

Reminded me of this article on a man who cleaned a tunnel & got busted for it:

Apparently it's "reverse graffiti":

Dave said...

If they own the sidewalk, great. If they don't own the sidewalk and didn't get a permit from the city, it is vandalism. Granted, not in a ugly tagger sort of way, but it is altering property without permission.

Having said that, I think it is extremely clever!

Albatross said...

I'm with Dave. I think it's very clever with just the tiniest of excuses (Hey! We were cleaning the sidewalk, not tagging it!), but if it was done without permission it's still not OK. That may be a clean spot, but if the owner (in this case, the City of San Antonio) doesn't like it, then they are forced to pay for a cleaning that they probably didn't budget for. And that's not fair.

But this case could be different. It could be that the clean-tagger/advertiser did indeed get permission. Luminaria is a city-run event, and it's possible that whoever applied this ad had the blessing of the city to spot-clean its sidewalks in a creative way.

Of course, knowing a little about how the city runs, it's also entirely possible that the city folk in charge of this event (the Office of Cultural Affairs) did not get clearance from the city folk in charge of sidewalks (Public Works). If this is the case, then we're back to marking up property without permission, which is graffiti, no matter how clever.