The Walls (public art)

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Date: 1993

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Public Art


Artist: various artists

Confronting Bodies: City officials and community members

Dates of Action: 1993

Location: Huntington Beach, California

Description of Artwork: The Walls was a city-sponsored program in which graffiti artists could apply for free, one-year permits to paint temporary murals on sections of ten approximately 20 x 40 ft. cement retaining walls spanning seven-tenths of a mile along Huntington Beach.

The Incident: Months after the program was initiated, city council members began receiving request from city officials and community members to shut down the program because it was attracting vandals and asserting that the murals being painted were not art. Huntington Beach Police Chief Ron Lowenberg advocated eliminating the program because it hampered police efforts to reduce illegal graffiti and conflicted with the department's prohibition of possession of aerosol paint by minors. In a newspaper opinion piece, State Attorney General Daniel Lungren called graffiti "not art," but rather "an ugly reminder of the presence of crime gangs and drugs in our neighborhoods and and indications that many youngsters believe acts of violence and destruction are accomplishments."

Results of Incident: The council voted to cancel the program, but kept the murals on display.

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