Some local artists gathered to discuss a different type of art on Tuesday. The subject of the “Urban Dialogue: Science After Dark” program this month was “The Story of Graffiti and Tag Art.”
The Sherman Museum program featured Grayson College professors Steve O. Black and Jessie Reinhard, Howe High School teacher Thomas Tipton, tag artist Raymond Tackett and Sherman Community Players Artistic Director Anthony Nelson.
“Some people think of graffiti artists and tag artists as vandals, but most graffiti artists think of themselves as community members,” Tackett said. “They believe that their art is a representation of community and pride — they are taking ownership of their cities.”
Tackett went on to say that what differentiates graffiti artists from a simple bomb or tag is the intent. He said graffiti artists generally take more time and they have an idea or message behind what they are writing.
“Graffiti is as old as human kind,” Black said. “There is some need to leave our legacy in some fashion with those around us. Take the time to ask yourself, why you like it or why you do not like it.”
Black said graffiti artists carry their design books around with them and they are constantly working on their pieces and improving.
“I once had an art show where I had graffiti artists come to the college,” Black said. “I had them do their works on doors and scrap pieces of wood. It was beautiful. But, of course, they do not want to be identified because if the police were to connect their work with the work they had done on the streets, they would have gotten in trouble.”
Black said those caught doing graffiti can be arrested, prosecuted, fined and even sent to jail. Penalties could be a Class C misdemeanor with a $500 fine or a first-degree felony with a 5- to 99-year prison sentence and a maximum fine of $10,000.
After attending Tuesday’s discussion, Shirley Clark said she has more of an appreciation for graffiti and graffiti artists.
“It is not just vandalism,” she said. “The vandalism is there, but there is also a story behind it.”
She now thinks of graffiti as she would other works of art.
“When you see the rail cars go by, it is like a canvas going by,” she said. “Before they were just rail cars, but this work on art has traveled all around the country. It is a traveling art show.”