GOOD GRAFFITI

Phoenix spends $2.3 million annually to "buff" graffiti off city walls, but The Bird wishes they'd catch a clue from some businesses in town that support "legal walls" for aerosol artists, allowing these spray-can Picassos to add some much-needed art to the city's often drab exterior.

As this avian's blogging bro, Feathered Bastard, has documented previously, one of these businesses is Miranda's Custom Cars at 706 South Central Avenue, where a wall that wraps around the auto body shop features urban art as dope as any you'd discover in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York City.

Madison Event Center's legal wall, showing a piece by artist DEXTER. New art starts going up this weekend.
Stephen Lemons
Madison Event Center's legal wall, showing a piece by artist DEXTER. New art starts going up this weekend.
Work from artist CRE
Stephen Lemons
Work from artist CRE

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See a slide show of graffiti photos from Madison Event Center

The images change regularly, and, ironically, one was ripped off this year by none other than County Attorney Andrew Thomas, whose office took a pic of a large piece by graf artist WIES and used it on an anti-graffiti flyer, even though Miranda's owner Luis Miranda had given permission for WIES and other artists to use his walls.

The Miranda wall, which has garnered attention in the graf community in and outside of Phoenix, was organized by PHX graf guru DOSE, who opts not to use his real name for obvious reasons. Recently, DOSE scored another legal wall for city graf artists at the Madison Event Center at 441 West Madison Street, right next to the Fourth Avenue Jail. (The legal wall is actually on Jackson Street, at Fourth Avenue.)

Proprietors Malcolm Marr and Michael Booher have allowed DOSE and the talent pool he commands to transform the south side of the property into a seasonal wall, which most recently featured Halloween-themed graffiti calling to mind graphics associated with old horror comics like Tales from the Crypt. Next up will be some Tim Burton-esque Christmas scenes. DOSE says they'll begin painting a few days after this column goes to press.

"At first, the response was a little negative," said Booher, noting that the city initially sent him a letter demanding that he paint over the graffiti. "Now I've got sheriff's deputies asking to pose in front of it."

Though the city threatened to fine Booher if he didn't paint out the graf or let city workers do it, officials eventually relented after Booher and Marr visited City Hall and told authorities that they'd commissioned the work. The same thing happened with Miranda. Seems the concept that someone might actually like graffiti befuddles those who run the city's Graffiti Busters program.

Booher and Marr have also allowed DOSE and artists such as CRE, SERP, ASEK, SREK, and DEXTER to paint inside the property's structures. What's developed is an impromptu gallery of graffiti murals, with artists flying in from as far away as L.A. and New York to add their paintings to scores already up.

Since the city cracked down last year on the underground raves that had been going on at the property ("The Party's Over," Sarah Fenske, October 25, 2007), the rechristened Madison Event Center has been renting out the buildings to bar mitzvahs, quinceañeras, and the like. Of the three buildings on the property, one is a vast hall for more upscale events, which is graffiti-free, or sort of. DOSE and his collaborator SERP filled one entire wall with a spray-painted Manhattan cityscape.

Party-goers are often surprised, Booher says, to learn that the same artists who did the Manhattan skyline did the graf in and on the other buildings. They shouldn't be. It takes skills to do graffiti art and do it well.

The city should take notice and try spending a little bit of that $2.3 million on artists like DOSE. Phoenix's Department of Neighborhood Services currently sponsors no legal walls, according to Deputy Director Tim Boling. That's a shame. 'Cause P-town needs fewer façades the shade of brown paper bags and more vibrant colors, like DOSE and his comrades can deliver.

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8 comments
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Sensible
Sensible

To all the opponents of the speed cameras.

How many times have I heard "If only you traffic cops were out there catching bank robbers and such."

Now they can. So shut the hell up.

dave too
dave too

dec 18th 4pm protest these cameras!!!! come on out, we're doing it for you too.

david cook
david cook

Notice I am NOT david baker. he's a real a hole.!

anyways Thurs at 4pm 12/18 1600 S Longmore Mesa at us 60 come out and protest these stupied Nappy cameras!!1 bring a sign or use one of ours bring the whole family and relatives it will be fun only an hour during rush hour, !! next thin you know the cameras will be taking pictures of our license plates , if the word ARIZONA covered its between 100- and 200$ get that in the mail !! then youll wish youd join us. Public protest be there, ti will be great.!!

Amanda O'Kieffe
Amanda O'Kieffe

Graffiti is nothing more than self expression and these artists are a prime example. We, as a city, need to promote and encourage this type of artwork in Arizona just as we've done with First Fridays.

Mike Amaya
Mike Amaya

I think its about time that Graf artists in AZ get more recognitioon for their work. Seems like any time a citizen hears the word "Graffiti" they think vandalism. That isnt the case. This art form has been recently exploited by major corporations since the 80's, such as McDonalds,CokaCola,and Nike ect.ect. Look at your Verizon telephone. They have wall paper by Keith Harring, hes a graffiti artist or atleast once was. Take a look at the clothes your kids are wearing or look at the shows on Cartoon Network they've all been touched by Graffiti artists! Keep up the good work and continue to give Graffiti art a voice in AZ.

PANCHO VILLA!
PANCHO VILLA!

WHATS SCARY IS THAT YOU DID'NT BOTHER TO READ THE ARTICLE CAREFULLY. HE STATES THAT THEY ARE LEGAL WALLS!!!!! WHAT PART OF LAWLESSNESS IS "LEGAL WALLS?"

SINCERLY, PANCHO VILLAS THE "ILLEGAL" LEGAL!

Eastside
Eastside

What should be distrubing to you is the the Politicians and Racist get away with...Which one are you ?

David Baker
David Baker

Is this Bird twit a supporter of complete lawlessness?!!! He's in favor of graffiti and taking a pickaxe to speed cameras. And I'm guessing he's for legalized pot, prostitution and porno. What a creep. And I see from his past columns he's even pro-illegal alien. Is nothing sacred to this scofflaw? That the New Times lets him get away with this is very disturbing.

 
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