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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Seeing Art in Graffiti's Implacable Wrath

October 07, 2003

Re "Conference Views Graffiti's Creative Side," Oct. 3: I agree that graffiti can be an art form. However, most is vandalism and is connected to gang activity that can lead to death.

I am the executive director of a youth and family center. Although we have success in turning graffiti taggers into artists, most of what we deal with are graffiti taggers from different neighborhoods. A local club has entertainment that draws graffiti taggers from other neighborhoods to Echo Park. They tag buildings around the club, and then the local gang youth who live in the neighborhood and visit our center for services see the tagging. They get angry and go to the taggers' neighborhood to get even. Next there's a tagger gang war. Is this art? We need another conference.

Sandra Figueroa-Villa

Los Angeles

I applaud the artists mentioned for not allowing themselves to be seen as criminals. For not allowing their voices to be silenced. For not allowing their right to free expression to be halted. Graffiti is the tool of our youth, always has been, always will be.

Graffiti is a direct reflection of the city we live in; it can be, all at once, shocking, ugly, hopeful, inspiring, in your face and nonapologetic. It is ... what we are. Don't like it? Oh well, the truth hurts. Who's the vandal -- the kid writing on the wall or the fat cats on Wall Street who just wiped out your grandparents' pension plan?

Carmelita Sanchez

Los Angeles

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