“The difference between graffiti and art is permission.” — San Francisco Police Dept.
On your next trip to the 415, check out the miles of high energy, super bold, larger-than-life street art. It’s everywhere. It jumps off the wall and then into your head. Much like the strip of graffiti art on Rue Denoyez in the Belleville section of Paris, many SF artists are now building up layers and creating a sense of dimension and heft (Pics #1, #2). They are painting in broad daylight, and sometimes, it’s even legal. A non-profit arts organization called “Precita’s Eyes” organizes artists to design and paint murals and mosaics on “approved” walls. But for the most part, what you see on the street is considered “vandalism” by San Francisco Police.
The city spends $20 million a year on graffiti cleanup.
The San Francisco Public Safety Ordinance reads this way: “Graffiti is detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the community – in that it promotes a perception that the laws protecting property can be disregarded with impunity. This perception fosters a sense of disrespect that results in an increase in crime, degrades the community, and leads to urban blight.”
Precita’s Eyes believes its mural projects are “a bridge to the community; that artists communicate with the people; and the result is a reflection — a mirror — of that community.”
There may be truth in both of those statements, but the bottom line for me is: true art can be discovered anywhere. It may emerge from the cracks in the sidewalk or the drips on a can of paint. And if it’s fresh and new — even if it’s whimsically splashed onto an electrical panel — there’s a good chance it’s the real deal. Check out my photos below, and let me know what you think.