A street art show happening at Eclectica this Friday is raising some ire at the city as it toes the line for legal art. The show, called Slaptown, is organized by Portland street sticker artist New Colony, who's been slapping up home-made stickers on newspaper boxes and street signs for three years now. He's solicited submissions for the show since last April and will stick up every entry on a nine-foot-high wall in the Hawthorne store Friday night.
But some sticker ads put up around town caught the eye of the graffiti abatement crew at the city. Marcia Dennis, graffiti abatement coordinator for the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, sent out an to neighborhood groups with the offending sticker attached.
Dennis mentioned how volunteers in one of the eight city-wide graffiti-removal volunteer days had spent a Saturday morning scraping 500 stickers off Hawthorne street signs and apparently requested help curbing sticker proliferation in Portland, writing:
I recently sent a letter to the Portland postmaster, requesting help in limiting access to free self-adhesive labels and stickers that are used by graffiti vandals to create "slap tags". The attached photo illustrates the slap tag in all its glory.
New Colony sounded a little hurt at being described as a "graffiti vandal." "The sticker art scene isn't about vandalism. Sure, it's about getting up and being seen," he said, "I don't think stickers on the back of a sign hurts anyone. It's not the same as defacing or vandalizing a building." The National Crime Prevention Council (aka Scruff McGruff) argue that graffiti ruins neighborhoods and is correlated to larger crime, that's why the city has budgeted thousands for its removal.
TOTALLY ILLEGAL AND DANGEROUS. via flickr
New Colony doesn't permanently wheatpaste his art up, it's just drawn on sticker paper. He says he only flyered in legal places, too, and didn't know about the stickers the city called out. "Some kid mighta got happy and went to town," he suggests.
So are post offices the new frontier for the city determined to crack down on street art? The public can't handle mailing labels? Really? Last year, the city council passed an ordinance requiring all businesses that sell spray paint and paint pens to keep a log on site for two years recording the name of the buyer and their driver's license number or date of birth. When I went to buy spray paint (for totally legal flag-painting purposes) at the beginning of the summer, my paranoid, conspiracy-theorist housemate showed me the way to get around the logbook: Pay with cash. Use self-checkout.