Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Local political graffiti in Toronto

Deadboy graffiti: Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto, giving people the finger
Graffiti depiction of Mayor Rob Ford, Toronto, by Deadboy. Photo: Stephanie Findlay/Toronto Star.

Typical graffiti is mostly self-indulgent, as it is about an individual making his/her mark, but isn't a statement of much of anything outside of the individual. It can be relatively dull or quite interesting, artistically speaking. When you see political graffiti it tends to be about national or international issues, not local ones.

-- Colt 45 graffiti ad (the commodification of graffiti), Flickr photo by the depths
-- graffiti on railroad track retaining walls, Brookland Metro Station, DC

In Toronto, "Deadboy" has produced graffiti about Mayor Rob Ford and his brother Doug Ford, a Toronto City Councilman. See "Mayor Ford's antics breathes new life into Deadboy's graffiti art" from the Toronto Star.

Rob Ford, a kind of Tea Party-like Christopher Christie anti-government candidate ("there's billions of dollars of waste" in the city government), won the election and since has applied scorched earth policies and tactics along with his brother, such as the junking of the acclaimed Transit City expansion program in favor of a limited expansion of a likely to be underutilized subway extension, Doug Ford's attempt to build a shopping mall and such on the Toronto Waterfront, and proposed massive cuts to city programs.
Deadboy graffiti: Rob and Doug Ford, Toronto
Only the heads, replaced with Rob and Doug Ford, differ from the illustrations of Tweedledum and Tweedledee by British political cartoonist John Tenniel that appeared in a 1865 Lewis Carroll edition. STEPHANIE FINDLAY/TORONTO STAR.

In "Metro Hall gets graffiti-bombed," the Toronto Globe & Mail places Deadboy in the context of Toronto's new Graffiti Management Plan. From the article:

The showcase follows on the heels of Toronto’s new graffiti management plan, born from months of public consultation in the wake of a failed graffiti crackdown this winter. Passed by council in June, this radical shift in policy aims to distinguish graffiti vandalism from other forms of street art.

A staff panel and soon-to-be-established graffiti registry will help police differentiate between permitted, legally commissioned street art and vandalism. Designated “Graffiti Alleys,” located along Queen West, have been declared exempt from graffiti bylaw enforcement.

Mr. Lialias based the concept for SAS on various other city models, taking up the issue after learning that the mayor’s “War on Graffiti” in February forced business owners – many running small stores or galleries along the Queen West strip – to pay up to $10,000 for the removal of tags. Mr. Lialias teamed up with the city to consult both street artists and Business Improvement Areas, a process that culminated in the graffiti management plan.

-- Toronto's Street Art Showcase, digital projection of street art images onto a public building

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