The world as canvas 

Street Smarts

Not so long ago, the word "graffiti" provoked primarily negative reactions. And while that response is still fairly common, a more positive view is taking hold.

click to enlarge Ken Ford
  • Ken Ford

Ken Ford of Stetson Hills is a sales manager.

Define graffiti. Artistic expression in abnormal places.

When is graffiti mere vandalism? When it's done without permission.

Give examples of graffiti as art and graffiti as vandalism. It's art when it's a collaborative expression of how people in a certain neighborhood feel about life. A gang tag is vandalism — claiming ownership of something you don't own.

Have you seen graffiti you consider genuinely artistic? I saw an incredible graffiti competition in Toronto. Each building had a different theme. It was graffiti on a whole other level.

click to enlarge Sara Justus
  • Sara Justus

Sara Justus of the west side is a middle school teacher.

Is graffiti art? It's a form of artistic expression just the same as sculpture, painting, woodworking or any other art. It, too, takes talent to do well.

When is graffiti defacement? When it's done on private property. When it's offensive or derogatory. I absolutely believe in freedom of expression, though.

Can you point to local graffiti you consider genuinely artistic? I recently hiked on a trail near Manitou Springs that passes by Rainbow Falls, which is completely covered in absolutely beautiful graffiti.

Is there a graffiti artist you admire? We talked about one in one of my classes this past week, whose name escapes me at the moment. He travels all over the world and did a huge mural for the World Trade Center museum.

click to enlarge Blaze Green
  • Blaze Green

Blaze Green of Old Colorado City is an astrologist and numerologist.

Define graffiti. Artistic expression in public settings.

Is it art? Absolutely. The world is a canvas. There are no limits to expression.

Does graffiti have more of an aesthetic or a social bent? It has a social bent when it puts aspects of society we don't want to acknowledge into our face and says, "Hey, you must take note of us now." It's aesthetic, too, because the vibrant colors make everyone smile.

What makes a striking locale for graffiti? When it's somewhere like on the side of a bridge overlooking a thousand-foot drop-off that makes you try to imagine the acrobatics it took to do it. There's some impressive graffiti of that sort at Rainbow Falls in Manitou.

Do you have a favorite graffiti artist? Banksy, especially his socially engaged work. He's put himself into some incredibly dangerous political situations throughout the world in doing his graffiti.


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