Graffiti spreads to Kenai Peninsula

Posted: Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Graffiti has appeared in many places across the globe, from the Berlin Wall to Wildwood's Building 100. In even a decidedly non-urban community as ours, illicit graphic expression somehow finds a canvas.

Zirus ZanDevere, owner of Art Works in Soldotna, said that she doesn't condone spray painting other's property without permission, but considers it inevitable.

"The desire to make marks is innate in humans," said ZanDevere.

She categorizes crass images of human genitalia and gang symbols differently than pieces that express creative thought. She said, "I'm not sure how to regulate that: wipe off the gang symbols, but keep the beautiful stuff?"

ZanDevere said that she supports "graffiti walls" funded by city governments as an incentive for would be vandals to stop defacing property.

"Like toddlers," she said. "It's good to give them options: clean up your toys or take a nap."

Local photographer and digital artist William Heath said that public acceptance diminishes graffiti as an art form because it takes away from its provocative nature.

"Not sure it's going to last much longer because it's losing its shock value," he said. "The power of that came from it being outsider art."

"It is vandalism," Heath said. "There's probably no question about it."

Heath doesn't think that all of the taggers spray paint solely for the rush of creating illicit art however.

"Some are just looking for a large canvass to create things on that's not available to them elsewhere," said the photographer.

The lack of activity draws taggers to abandoned buildings, ZanDevere theorized. She said that the some graffiti artists are trying to express that dullness.

"It's saying, 'Hey, nothing is happenin'. Don't you guys care about that?" she said.

Doug Jung, store manager of Safeway, said that graffiti appeared on his building over the last few days. The store currently has no means of preventing the tagging, but Jung said that staff call the police whenever they catch vandals in the act.

"I don't like it and I'd like to prosecute the ones who are doing it," he said. "It's damaging private property and it's not appealing to my customers."

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