Shirleigh Ratchthwana, former war-crimes prosecutor and current head of Public Relations for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) denounced today the destruction of priceless cultural artifacts within a stone's throw of the museum's main entrance. “We regularly watch as groups of vandals deputized to their duty by the City of Los Angles (City) strip layers of art from our town's various walls, sign-posts, and switching boxes – daily and without relent. Examples of this art include stickers en collage or solo, pasted-up paper pieces, and those that are sprayed-on. By its actions and those of its deputies, City demonstrates an alarming lack of appreciation for such art as it presides over, regardless if that art should hang in a gallery or on a street corner.” Art that happens to be located in public, or street art, is created by daring and talented individuals who risk fines and abuse if caught in the act of application. Pieces by the most famous modern graffitos can fetch sums approaching 7 figures. Fundamentally human in its chaotic and spontaneous nature, street art – graffiti – is one of mankind's oldest documented yet least hallowed forms of artistic expression. Whether in the walls of Teotihuacan and Giza or the ruins of Stonehenge or Sumer, the scratches and scribbles of a million faceless graffiti-writers bridge the gaps of time.
“We stand now witness to a great extinction,” said Dr. Horatio B. Gherrt, professor of art history at Harvard's Schoullenbarg School for Contemporary Art. “This extinction, however, this mass die-off, is not of beast but of beauty, not of aardvark or antelope but of art itself. A solitary artist working by herself would take months – even years, or never – to create such pieces of perfectly blended chaos, such though-evoking combinations of logo, typeface, cultural icon, and slogan – old and new, obscure and obvious, crude and tender. Yet such collages spring into being on otherwise unadorned and publicly-accessible spaces virtually overnight and completely free of charge to the city, which then expends resources to scrape them down or cover them in dull, gray paint.”
With municipalities across the world continuing to criminalize the application of street art and refusing to recognize its value and beauty, the future still looks bleak for artists who follow the ancient human urge to mark their passage with note or scrawl (but without by-your-leave). “So long as there are people, there will be graffiti,” said Ms. Ratchthwana. “Instead of simply destroying things they don't understand, we hope that City leaders will soon treat street art as they would treat a Van Gogh painting or Ming-era vase – as part and parcel of mankind's cherished cultural legacy, something that deserves to be protected.” City declined to comment for this article.
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