Lessons from a Blank Wall

IMG_1514The photo to the left depicts the mural on the side of Glebe Meat Market. It was painted last fall and livens up an otherwise blank wall. It’s a small thing , but it’s the sort of initiative that helps to make our streetscapes more pleasing. Kudos to them.

The picture also shows a bit of Glebe’s graffiti problem. Taggers left their mark on the Bell Canada thingama-box, but nothing on the mural. Half a block up Bank Street, there’s more graffiti. In a little alley north of Regent Street beside a now-empty storefront, vandals have left the following greeting:

IMG_1513It’s well-known but nonetheless noteworthy that graffiti artists tend towards blank canvases, often leaving murals in peace. This brings two thoughts.

First, it just reinforces that drab concrete monoliths are not only blights in their own right, but are invitations for defacing. It’s like visual white noise dotted with occasional screams. No one wants that.

Second, these vandals are not the indiscriminate menace to society that 1980s-based stereotypes would have us believe. These people are attacking businesses rather than residences. They will deface the wall of a commercial building in an alley, but not homes down the street… or even the white luxury car parked in the alley. There is a definite message in this, and one we shouldn’t ignore.

None of this is new, of course. It’s just that we rarely see these points made through such proximate juxtaposition.

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