Graffiti as Art?

Published in the La Vernia News on May 26, 2016

It’s Weird and Sometimes Wonderful                                                But it’s Art!

Everyday Journeys

   Harry and Linda Kaye Perez

     Graffiti isn’t new- not by a long shot. Possibly the first known graffiti were figure drawings on walls of the surface of rocks or boulders in Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia as early as the first century BC. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius (79 AD) preserved graffiti in Pompeii, including Latin curses, magic spells, declarations of love, political slogans, and famous literary quotes, providing insight into ancient street life. Evidence of graffiti has been documented from the Mayan culture in Guatemala, Viking graffiti in Rome, in Ireland, and in the Hagia Sophia at Constantinople.

Graffiti Park

   During World War II and for decades after, the phrase “Kilroy was here” with an accompanying illustration was widespread throughout the world, due to its use by American troops and ultimately trickling down into American popular culture. Student protests in Paris, May 1968, covered the city with graffiti expressing revolutionary, anarchistic, and political slogans. Today, graffiti is everywhere in the world, and, like it or not, its here to stay.

    Most graffiti artists are aware of the threat of facing consequences for displaying their graffiti, as it is usually done illegally on building walls, so many want to remain anonymous, while still identifying their “works of art.” Unlike traditional artists, who sign their names to their art, graffiti artists use a “tag”, such as initials or symbols as their personalized signature.            GRAFFITI PARK AT CASTLE HILLS, AUSTIN, TEXAS

A Legal ‘gallery'

Sample-S.A. Building

    There is one place where graffiti is actually encouraged.  In keeping with Austin’s mantra of  “Keep Austin Weird”, there is the Graffiti Park at Castle Hills, also called Hope Outdoor Gallery. Some actually refer to it as a three-story playground for artists. The story goes that developers were planning to create a residential area in this downtown location, but ran into zoning problems, leaving massive concrete walls that remained that some thought was an eyesore. Apparently, these walls were irresistible to some graffiti artists. Surprisingly, the owners of the property do not consider this vandalism, but instead happily allowed artists to come and paint on their property. The park is located on Baylor and 11th Streets in the heart of Austin. You can’t miss it!

   Please note - we are not suggesting there is anything good about illegal graffiti and defacing someone else’s personal property, but done appropriately, can be rather entertaining. We also found many excellent examples of graffiti on walls of businesses near downtown San Antonio. 


Graffiti art offers a wide scope of subject matter, from intricate                                                                                                              letting and political slogans, to pop culture imagery,such as this                                                                                                             "Star Wars” stormtrooper that decorates a building in San Antonio.

Sample- S.A. Building-2
Graffiti Park-2

   © Harry Perez 2012