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.”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.