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HELSTON: Tag, you're it Vernon

Charlotte Helston is the Vernon reporter for InfoNews.
September 12, 2014 - 7:18 AM

Vernon has a pretty distinct flavour when it comes to street wall art, but a new trend is adding some diversity—wanted or unwanted—to the scene.

If you didn’t know, the vast majority of the city’s downtown murals were designed and painted by one extremely talented, motivated and prolific artist. You have her to thank when you walk down a nondescript alleyway and discover a work of art.

But as you walk around Vernon, you may notice words and images that don’t fit the theme. Tags—words or slogans on walls or other objects—and graffiti have taken over some buildings. Some represent commissioned works, others vandalism, and it would appear both are on the rise.

A report from the community policing office revealed a higher number of new, unwanted graffiti and tags within the city compared to recent years. It doesn’t matter if the works are profane doodles or works of art; if it wasn’t paid for, commissioned or otherwise approved, it’s vandalism. The community policing office equates it with smashing windows or damaging property: you’re messing with someone else’s stuff without their permission.

At the same time, we’re seeing a lot more legal graffiti art in the city, works that are commissioned and that legitimize the art form. The Vernon Public Art Gallery has welcomed it at its annual Riot on the Roof event, inviting graffiti artists to give the grey walls of the parkade a facelift.

Artists have also been asked to brighten up residential parking areas and walls of businesses with a splash of something different.

Underground graffiti artists and taggers, I ask you: Would you not prefer to get paid for your work rather than seeing it washed off or painted over? If the goal is to have people see your creations, why not paint them somewhere they’ll be appreciated and permanent?

To the people of Vernon: Keep an open mind. If you catch someone tagging your property, consider turning the situation around. Show them a little kindness and think about offering them a job sprucing up your walls.

Taggers and underground graffiti artists respect other artists. You’ll seldom see an existing mural vandalized. If we can’t stop it from happening, perhaps one solution is to embrace the art form.

Murals add colour, intrigue and a sense of pride to communities. They show that we inhabit our streets and our alleyways with art.

The free, outdoor gallery of downtown Vernon can only benefit from diversity. Why stick to one theme when you can reflect the tastes and creativity of the whole community?

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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