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Casting the Net on 'Art Crimes'

April 06, 1999|MARTIN MILLER

For those of you who don't get enough graffiti on local bridges, walls, sidewalks, abandoned buildings, buses and trains, there's now a Web site where you can see even more. At http: //www.graffiti.org, which calls itself "Art Crimes," you can take a graffiti tour of 2,000 images representing nearly 80 cities from around the world.

But the Web site isn't all just pretty, mostly illegal, pictures. It also provides interesting information about the origins, development and practice of graffiti. For instance, while citizens of the uptight establishment may refer to graffiti artists as "criminals," the artists themselves seem to prefer the term "writer."

However, according to the site, this term fails to distinguish real graffiti artists from book authors and journalists, so they are still in search of a proper name. Also, they stress that they don't want to be confused with gang graffiti artists who are usually more interested in marking territory, selling drugs or killing someone than making an artistic statement.

The two founders of the 5-year-old site make clear they don't advocate breaking the law, but they do think art belongs in public spaces "and that more legal walls should be made available for this fascinating art form."

As one graffiti artist named "Schmoo" put it: "Blank walls are ugly and repressive."

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