Graffiti Legal in Chicago?

The City of Chicago spends nearly $9 million to paint over gang tags and throw up.  But in that process they also destroy countless works of street art that are ignorantly lumped in with gang graffiti.


$9 million seems like an awful lot of money to be spending on graffiti removal, especially when their budget has more than doubled since the program began with $4 million in 1993, and considering that the Chicago Public School system is running a deficit of $370 million, and the Chicago Police Department is chronically understaffed.

So I was interested to read in Bad at Sports this week that Chicago graffiti artist Ray Noland is spearheading the [ASC] Project, short for the Approved Stencil Campaign. [Read my interview with Ray Noland] Noland will, for no charge and with the property owners permission, create a stencil-based artwork on “your old side-door, fence, or brick wall that’s an eyesore.” 

From Ray Noland:

Over the past few years my images have become very recognizable on
the streets of Chicago. In not so many words… The street is my voice.
If you are a property owner and love what I do, listen up! I am
launching a new street art campaign just for you. [ASC] Project — Approved
Stencil Campaign is a legal permission wall stencil art campaign
across the city of Chicago. Reaching out to all residential &
commercial property owners in Chicago. Do you have an old side-door,
fence or brick wall that’s an eyesore?  With your permission the [ASC]
Project will apply a stencil work to the facade of your property at no
cost. [ASC] Project chooses work to display. 

For more details:

Plans are also in the works to meet with Chicago aldermen to discuss a change in laws to protect street art, as opposed to graffiti.  This would be a truly unique opportunity for Chicago to define itself as a haven for art and artists, even on an international stage. Just a few weeks ago the Council of Hackney, a borough of London, decided to remove a large rabbit painted on private property by Belgian street artist ROA.

Chicago could probably get considerable international attention with official approval of the [ASC] Project, since cities all over the world are unsure of how to deal with graffiti art. Chicago aldermen willing to go to bat for this project should make sure to define that they are on the side of art and against the destruction of art; no one wants to be associated with the gang graffiti that truly should be removed. 


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  • What a crock of shit!
    It's not art & never was.
    It's vandalism, pure & simple.
    And permission walls never work, they just encourage the rest of the taggers who don't care about permission.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Sorry graffiti is art, always has been, always will be. See: Caves of Lascaux, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring.

    I like the passionate opinion though.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    What a perfect screen name for you, Scooter. The only thing pure and simple is your complete ignorance and lack of understanding of all-things creative and free. Fact is, our city is littered with corporate graffiti. Everyday we are force-feed images and ideas from some of the most corrupt businesses on earth... only difference is they pay to piss all over our city. Piss on our bus shelters, park benches, they darken our city views with over sized billboards promoting hate-speech radio and blood-sucking casinos. Do us all a favor, Scooter... stick to stinking up the national end of politics and leave the city dwelling to the cool-kids.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to justjoey:

    Would u rather look at decrepit run down empty businesses that are more of an eye sore than what the street artist put on it. Ur the one who is naive, with hundreds of thousands of empty buildings that are are slowly falling apart, the only thing they are good for now is art. Im not gonna get into the politics u randomly connected to this, im just stating that using abandoned buildings, or occupied buildings with owner consent is more constructive than not doing anything, those artist actually having an income is great, but their hobby is unquestionable, and allowing them to express themselves and not be promoting gangs is fine by me, and i bet other people. not including u. =]

  • This is another terrible idea designed to cost Chicago taxpayers many millions of dollars rather than enforce the no graffiti act.
    Why would anyone be for this? Anyone caught adding paint, ink, or chalk to any building, or public structure should be fined and jailed that would stop this non-sense. Deport those who deface anything.

  • In reply to FloridaJim:

    I'm not sure you read the piece all the way:

    There are clear benefits to allowing street artists to create inspiring artwork with the permission of property owners.

    Graffiti Blasters are already costing the Chicago taxpayers millions of dollars, $9 million actually.

    Common knowledge: anyone convicted of vandalism can be fined and jailed already.

    Adding deportation in there is completely off the wall, which makes me wonder if I should respond at all.

  • In reply to FloridaJim:

    These comments are reminding me of this segment from the Colbert Report:

  • I think it's a great idea! I don't see how it is 'designed to cost taxpayers millions'? Exactly the opposite. You two are misinformed. This article is about private property permission. If you don't like it suck it!

  • I don’t think so that it is legal in Chicago and the same scenario of brick restoration in London as well. Graffiti removal expenses are increasing like any thing now a day.

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