Read All About It …

August 2011: Wall between Brookland-CUA & Fort Totten metro stations before being painted by MuralsDC.

As a fitting farewell to our summer of graffiti, this week’s issue of the Washington City Paper featured a cover story on the city’s complicated relationship with legal murals and unsanctioned art. Writer Jonna McKone included some familiar names to the fray: Cory Stowers, art director of Words, Beats & Life, Inc.; artist Tim Conlon; and writer FAME — all of whom have been interviewed or involved in Red Line D.C.‘s development in some way, shape or form. (The documentary was given a quick shout-out, too. Woot! Woot!) Before reporting out the WCP article, entitled “Tagging Rights,” McKone did a similar story for WAMU that followed FAME as he hit the line. Both pieces of reporting point to the odd positioning of graffiti culture in D.C., and elsewhere, as more street art finds its way into classrooms, galleries and public art exhibits.

The cultural and artistic tensions that McKone discusses directly inform our work for this project. As MuralsDC adds color to more legal walls around the city, including those along the red line, the significance of these open displays of art becomes increasingly difficult to frame. Is the red line just an old relic of underground art legends, a low-stakes territory for little-known, newbie writers or a transitional place seeing “progress” through public artworks? Clearly, there’s still lots for us to mull over at Red Line D.C.  Though, our minds are fixed on a spring/summer release for the documentary, we remain open to the myriad of possibilities for our project. The growing interest in graffiti culture and resulting media attention pushes us to ask: What will Red Line D.C. contribute to the discussion? McKone leaves much room for questioning, as well. She writes, “As the graffiti bubble grows bigger and bigger, its contradictions are being painted in vivid color.” And its with this vast, contradicting color palette in mind, that we set off to paint our own picture …

What do you think? Listen to McKone’s WAMU story, take a gander at the City Paper article and be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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One thought on “

  1. Definitely an issue to ignite debate and something I’ve struggled with (developing a concrete opinion on). I have to admit that there is something that turns my stomach at how acceptable “legal” graffiti is when compared to the anger traditional tagging generates. I definitely feel like artists should be able to earn a living and gain recognition, but it seems like we’re redefining the word along the way.

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