Saturday, February 14, 2009
Los Angeles is poised to kill its murals, past, present, and future
I.C.U. Art Response to Revised Sign Ordinance Proposal of 2/12/09
The second version of the Proposed Sign Ordinance was posted on 2/12/09. My comments are below. This ordinance is posted at the following link:
Public Hearing for the Presentation of the Revised Proposed Sign Ordinance
The public hearing on this issue will take place as a Special Meeting of the Planning Commission at 8:30AM on Thursday morning February 19th in Room 350 at City Hall, 200 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Speakers will most likely have only one minute to speak. I encourage people to submit comments in writing in advance in addition to speaking. The meeting will most likely take several hours. The earlier you arrive and submit your speaker card, the early you will speak.
Letters of Support and Contact Info
If you cannot get to the meeting, you can send a letter of two pages or less to the Commission Secretariat, 200 North Spring Street, Room 532, Los Angeles, CA 90012 phone 1-(213) 978-1300. If you cannot get a letter to the Secretariat before the meeting, you may bring it to the actual meeting. You must included 15 copies and the agenda item number. I also encourage you to contact the Mayor as well as any City Councilmembers as well as members of the public who will be impacted by this proposed ordinance so that they may work to influence the content of this poorly conceived of plan.
You can send me letters. Please include your address, and please sign the letter. You can mail letters to Stash Maleski, ICU Art, 2554 Lincoln Blvd #162 Venice, CA 90291 USA or fax them to +1 (310) 414-9932 or email me at email@example.com
CAC Plan Rejected
On 2/11/09 the Cultural Affairs Commission (CAC), working with the Cultural Affairs Department (DCA) presented their plan for how they feel that murals should be treated. I helped to develop this plan, and I feel it is a worthy plan to support. Although the plan is not perfect, I believe it is a good compromise under the circumstances. The letter from CAC with this plan is attached.
Since none of the Cultural Affairs Commission (CAC) recommendations from 2/9/09 were incorporated into the new proposal, I was hoping to hear that the reason for this was because Planning did not have enough time to evaluate the new CAC Plan. Unfortunately that is not the case. Alan bell in Planning told me that Planning did evaluate the CAC plan and decided that it would only be used by commercial advertisers.
Planning believes the only viable avenue for fine art murals of any size is through a public easement program. Planning felt that because a building owner would get more money from a commercial advertiser than a fine art muralist for this 300 sq ft. mural set-aside space ? this space would only be used by commercial advertisers. This is regardless of the constraints of the CAC plan that require a mural to be hand-painted, unique, not to cover a window, include no more than 15% text, and have a mural maintenance program. Planning?s logic breaks down when pressed on this issue as I point out below.
Planning Allows for Fine Art Murals as Part of the Regular Allotment of Signage
Under the new proposal, Planning feels that it is allowing for fine art murals to be put up as part of the allotted space for on-premise signage, which uses a ratio of 2.5:1. This formula basically allows for 2.5 sq ft of signage for every 1 foot of linear street frontage for that building. The problem is that this includes all of the on-premise signage and off-premise advertising. The Planning Department recommends a ?content neutral? approach to signage that would not distinguish between on or off-premise signage. Thus, all or none of the allotted signage could be used for off-premise advertising. If you have a building that has 50 linear feet of street frontage, than you would get 125 square feet of allowable signage to use for whatever you like. You could use it for on-premise signage, you could use it to advertise off-premise products or you could use it for a fine art mural. This is unacceptable for several reasons.
This entire allowance of sign area will be maxed-out by on-premise signage. Any remaining square footage of allowable signage could be sold to a commercial advertiser ? with no limits on text and no requirement that it be hand painted. So using the Planning Departments own logic ? that space would be sold to the highest commercial bidder ? not a fine art muralist. Most likely the signage would not be hand-painted. There would be no restriction against digitally printed signage on vinyl for example.
The 2.5:1 ratio is a reduction from the current regulations which allowed for up to 4 sq ft or sign area for every linear foot of street frontage (4:1). Even under the current 4:1 ratio, this formula did not allow enough square footage that would allow an artist to create something in-scale that could really be considered a mural. Primarily this is because most buildings have more than enough existing on-premise signage to use up the entire allotment. Thus, the reduction to 2.5:1 will hinder mural production under the nomenclature of a ?sign?, even more.
Must Be A Set-Aside for Murals ? CAC Plan
There has to be a set-aside for murals that is in addition to on-premise signage. The CAC plan was a fair compromise. The majority of the muralists who attended the Artist Meeting on ?Murals and the New Sign Ordinance? at Crewest Gallery on 2/11/09, support the CAC plan. Although artists generally feel that 300 sq ft is small for a mural, and that they have some concerns, they were willing to back the plan as an acceptable compromise with the condition that artists help craft the details of the Mural Easement Plan for murals over 300 sq ft.
Improper CEQA Findings and Fines for Murals
The Planning Department states in this new proposal that it revisited CEQA findings for this revised ordinance and saw no reason to change any of its findings. I strongly disagree with this assessment. With the new proposal the situation has gotten much worse. With the new proposal, enforcement and fines for any sign found out of compliance have been greatly increased with no respect for VARA or CAPA laws. Since murals of any sort are being defined simply as a type of sign, murals will be greatly affected. This is because most murals are very large ? and the new fine structure has greater fines for larger signs. With the new ordinance there will be more inspectors with greater resources going around citing signs that are out of compliance. Any fine art mural that did not get a permit from DCA will be cited as an illegal sign. If the mural is 300 square feet (which is a relatively small mural) it would be assessed with a $6,000 per day fine. Much more for larger murals- up to $12,000 a day for the first violation for a sign over 750 sq ft. Property owners and occupants within a 600-foot radius of a sign in violation of the sign regulations would also be allowed a ?private right of action? whereby they would have the right to bring civil action against and collect damages from the party cited. The only remedy to contest the citation would be an appeal ? which would cost $3,434 just to file. This sum would apparently not be returned even if the artist won the appeal. In fact, even those murals that were issued a DCA mural permit from 2002 to 2007 would be out of compliance and could be cited, as there is no language in this ordinance that would protect them.
Proper CEQA Findings
The proposed ordinance would jeopardize the existence of a large number of important fine art murals throughout the City of Los Angeles that were painted by important, well known and culturally significant artists. Many of these murals are larger than the maximum area allowed by the proposed ordinance and would therefore be considered illegal.
Many of these murals never received formal city permits, but are clearly protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. These murals are also protected by VARA and CAPA laws which require 90 days notice before a mural can be removed. In the past, citations for out-of-compliance signage (aka murals) have allowed only 10 days for compliance.
Just because a fine art mural did not get an actual permit does not effect whether it is a Cultural Resource or an important work of art. This is especially true since no permit for a fine art mural has been available since 2002 according to Planning.
The actual section of CEQA that covers this issue is as follows,
?CEQA - 15064.5. Determining the Significance of Impacts to Archeological and Historical Resources
(A) Is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of California's history and cultural heritage;
(B) Is associated with the lives of persons important in our past;
(C) Embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, region, or method of construction, or represents the work of an important creative individual, or possesses high artistic values;?
The CEQA Initial Study for this sign code should have stated that there could be ?Potentially Significant Impacts? in sections ?Ib and Ic? under ?Aesthetics? and in section ?Va? under ?Cultural Resources.? An Environmental Impact Report may be required for this ordinance.
Concessions this Round to all Parties Except Muralists
The revised Sign Ordinance proposal has made a large number of concessions that allow for more pervasive signage of many sorts, yet does not give up anything to muralists. There continues to be no definition of a mural. Any issue related to murals is pushed off, to be dealt with at a later date through the easement process modeled after Portland. This is a big mistake because murals need to be incorporated into the sign ordinance now as an important piece of this complex puzzle.
For example, Planning removed the 35 foot height restriction on signs. A sign just has to be below the building roofline. Now they are allowing large identification signs above 100 feet for high rises, and they have increased the amount of allowable on-premise signage from the 100 sq ft. maximum to a sliding scale based on the amount of linear street frontage. Pole Sign heights are increased. Restrictions on the SUD Sign Districts- which in the previous draft insisted that there be a minimum of 5 separate owners within a single Sign District and that the Sign District include a minimum of 10,000 linear feet of street frontage- have all been changed in a way that favors the large commercial sign companies ? but does nothing to open up these districts to fine art muralists.
In conclusion, I see no other option at this point then to rally all our resources to fight the passage of this proposed ordinance. All channels of influence must be utilized to force the Planning Department to reconsider their approach, and to recognize the value of murals to the cultural and economic life of this city.
ICU Art - In Creative Unity
Please repost this, especially to people in Los Angeles!
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Legal walls worldwide: map
Everyone: Be careful not to post walls that will be ruined by tourist traffic. Unless you are intimate with a particular wall's situation, don't blow up the spot for the people who paint there!
Writers: No wall is arrest-proof, because some police are not very interested in permission walls, so please keep that in mind when you plan what to take with you and what to say if confronted. Be good guests and take your litter with you. If you tag nearby buildings, the wall will soon be ruined and everyone will know who ruined it.
Photographers: Graffiti is covered by copyright, so don't think you can go to a wall to do commercial photography and get away without obtaining the artists' permission. It's much cheaper to make advance arrangements.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Hotel in Prague enhances workers' space with graffiti
"Graffiti art attack for Prague hotel "
11 February 2008
"In attempt to upgrade the back of the house areas and meet the new generations taste and expectations, General Manager of five-star hotel Corinthia Prague, Christian Grage invited local Graffiti artists, Lukáš Fokt and Zsolt Farkas to take charge and 'turn the place upside down'.
"Overall, six different designs for departments such as Maintenance, Training and Kitchen have been chosen to add 'spirit' to the otherwise white walls in the traditional back of house areas. The largest piece of art is over 4 meters high and 5 meters wide and decorates the lift landing of the two lifts for back of the house transportation.
"Christian Grage, General Manager commented:
"We agreed with both artists that it's great to do such graffiti pieces on unusual places such as the back of the five-star hotel as well as being a fantastic opportunity for young people to avoid illegal graffiti on facades of buildings.
"Employees love the new art initiatives and many more departments are now putting in requests for their own personalised Graffiti pieces. I have seen so many pictures taken by proud employees in front of those new images in the back house.
Grage, who has worked with a British graffiti artist before continued:
"We must enhance employee areas and keep their smiles going. The graffiti initiative is only one small aspect of many other initiatives driven by the creative management team of Corinthia Towers Hotel.?
Sunday, January 13, 2008
New legal wall in CT (USA)
"Naugatuck looks to build 75-foot-long graffiti wall
"Mayor Mike Bronko is teaming up with police officers and local youth to design a graffiti wall that would allow spray paint artists to show their skills without fear of being arrested.
"The borough is looking to build an 8-foot-tall, 75-foot-long graffiti wall near the skateboard park at Linden Park in the Union City section. Bronko said the project could cost from $5,000 to $10,000, and local businesses have said they will donate to the project. The borough also would seek funding from the state Office of Policy and Management's police and youth program to offset the cost."
Way to go, Connecticut!
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Prague graffiti project, penalties
"If caught, artists who spray graffiti in illegal areas face up to eight years in prison, Blažek says, but a majority receives lesser sentences to perform cleanups and other types of community service.
To help curb illegal street art, in 2001 the city designated several legal graffiti zones near Prague 5’s Barrandov bridge, Prague 1’s Těšnov tram stop and the Orionka zone in Prague 4–Modřany."
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Graffiti artists break Guinness record in Serbia
"Belgrade - Some 250 young graffiti artists painted a world record-long 605-metre piece on Wednesday in the Serbian city of Kragujevac.
"In a span of 24 hours, the artists topped the previous record of 507 metres held by Norwegian graffiti artists.
"Both local artists and graffiti writers from Germany, Italy and neighbouring Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina joined the event in Kragujevac, some 140 kilometres south of Belgrade."
Friday, July 20, 2007
China wants to keep graffiti for the Olympics
"A giant graffiti on the theme of the 2008 Beijing Olympics was done overnight in June in the northeast city of Changchun. While some of the citizens called to preserve it, city officials declared it unlawful.
"The 24-year-old graffiti artist who spent two nights creating the work with friends was surprised at how much support he received from residents who want to keep it as a piece of art.
"To be frank, I was feeling like a thief when I was doing it," said Li Xiang, who claimed his intention was to create some graffiti in the city and do something for the Beijing Games."
"... in the southwest municipality of Chongqing, the local government even designated a street for graffiti painters to show off their artistic skills. Local media reported the government is applying to the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest street covered in graffiti."
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Venice Art Walls Paintout - Los Angeles - June 3, 2007
10 AM - 7 PM FREE
Artist Crews from all over Los Angeles will be repainting the walls of the Art Park.
DJs Hip Hop and Reggae, Dub, Dancehall
MCs Open Mic o Spoken Word
Info: www.veniceartwalls.com or (310) 535-7729
Presented by ICU Art - In Creative Unity
Co-Sponsored By: The Chrysalis Project and Sol Foundation
Artist Crews will submit sketches to secure apace on large walls and on the cone structures.
Large Walls are 6ft x 50ft and 6ft x 60ft.
Cones are 17ft tall with 3ft tall x 12ft wide Small Walls at the base.
Wooden Walls are 8ft x 8ft
Materials will be provided by ICU Art
Artists arrive by 9AM for wall assignments, paint and permits (bring valid ID)
Large Walls require crews of at least 3 artists.
Info call (310) 535-7729 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Throughout the day we will be discussing the New Rules and the Pilot Program which will be going into effect with this event. Come make your voice heard on the Mic.
The Walls are being threatened with removal unless tagging in the area is reduced and the area stays clean. Venice area residents have been complaining to the City of Los Angeles regarding tagging in the area. ICU Art has negotiated a Pilot Program with the City of Los Angeles in an effort to keep the walls up. We have developed this program as a six-month trial period to see if the program can succeed. The program is managed by ICU Art with the Graffiti Artist in mind. If the program is a success, there is the possibility of more yards in other parts of the city being opened. Please help make this program a success. Keep the walls alive.
* no alcoholic beverages
* no illegal drugs
* no dogs on weekends at the beach
* no tagging in the neighborhood
* must be 18 years old to use spray paint
* help preserve this area for art
Human Rights Organizations, Arts Organizations are welcome to come. We have some tables, chairs and tents for non-vendors. Vendors working with a non-profit may be charged $50 per booth payable to the City of Los Angeles. Please e-mail email@example.com to discuss or call (310) 309-7756.
Summary of the New Rules
* The area is being renamed the Venice Public Art Walls.
* The walls will be open only on weekends and City holidays.
* The walls will be closed on weekdays to painting. Enforced by LAPD.
* All artists will need a permit to paint at any time.
* Permits will be free, and will be issued on-site by ICU Art.
* Strict LAPD enforcement of anti-vandalism laws in the Venice area.
* Minors can paint with brushes and rollers only.
* Large walls are for pieces only.
* Last pieces up Sunday afternoon run all week.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia gives graffiti artists walls
"... But this week the Jeddah municipality sent an olive branch to the city?s graffiti artists with the inauguration of a 60-meter-long wall in the Briman district of north Jeddah intended to be an open and legal canvas for street artists.
?Now that we can work with peace and concentration, I?m sure that many talents and great graffiti will emerge,? said Ziad.
During Tuesday?s inauguration, about 50 young men showed up for a graffiti frenzy. The city even provided the young men with paint.
Some of the young men even confessed to being responsible for some of the illegal graffiti in the city and said they would stick to using the wall designated for their work from now on.
Nasir Al-Muttib, head of the municipality?s branch in Briman, said that the city established this wall at the local public park to positively harness the talents of young artists and to discourage them from defacing walls throughout the city.
Mohammed Al-Tamimi, supervisor of municipal offices around Jeddah, said that other graffiti canvases might be erected in other parts of the city to promote public arts. The city is also considering a best-in-show monthly prize. ..."
Monday, October 02, 2006
New legal wall in Louisville Kentucky USA
Congratulations to local artists Jeral Tidwell and Sean Griffin for hooking up such a great wall. He wants writers to paint on it anytime. (Maybe let his own first mural run for a minute though, right? Tip: it has roses and a traditional tattoo influence, very nicely done.)
Location: "The underpass of Interstate 65 on East Market Street, between Hancock and Jackson Streets. Sponsoring this project is the Mayor's Committee on Public Art (MCOPA), with support from the East Downtown Business Association.
"Louisville will be among many European and other American cities that provide a venue for an urban art form. Seattle, New York City, Minneapolis, San Diego and Philadelphia have similar programs.
"Rules include painting within the designated area; keeping the sidewalk free of paint and passable at all times; no advertisements; and no inappropriate work. Inappropriate work will be covered. Artists Tidwell and Sean Griffin have agreed to monitor the wall, visiting periodically to make sure that all work is appropriate."
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Richard Crawford, Rest in Peace
An avid graffiti photographer, Richard Crawford of Corvallis Oregon, passed away
unexpectedly on February 23, 2003. He leaves behind a legacy of photos, a legal wall, and many people who he managed to persuade to give this artform a chance to coexist with society. He will be sorely missed.
Belmont rocked in LA, covered at 50mmlosangeles.com
Speaking of LA, Asylm.sh has a whole new look, new stuff.
Kelzo's up to some new thangs too.
In San Francisco, the cops shot a bunch of protesters and dock workers (!) with "non-lethal" weapons. The military has threatened to shoot to kill any protesters that try to enter Vandenberg Air Force base.
Computer worm pretends to be game
Excellent collection of articles on Znet
Politechbot has interesting stories about all kinds of things you need to know.
We are all political prisoners
Alternative news sources about Iraq
thanks to someone on slashdot.org
Debka (Middle East News) [debka.com]
Weird but interesting: The Hedonistic Imperative
Finally a use for stickers (scroll to the bottom of the page to get in)
Other great war art projects
Art For Peace and The Wartime Project, both collaborations among many artists on the net.