I’m not the type of person who considers most graffiti as actual art. Banksy and others in that class aside the majority of the scrawls on walls and property is, cleverness notwithstanding, simple and ugly vandalism that is costly and deleterious to the area in which it appears.
The graffiti in my neighborhood, while full of pretty colors and large swooping letters, makes the street look like a slum. I don’t get why people poop where they live.
One exception I found recently is a case where vandalism may actually improve a location. While eating lunch on a day out with my wife I discovered a vandalized painting of a still life of flowers hung up above a urinal in a bathroom of a local restaurant. The painting itself is of a class that some consider to be perfectly suited for hotel rooms and other areas like bathrooms. No disrespect to the artist, as it is better than I can do and is an improvement to the standard decor of air fresheners and paper towel dispensers.
Apparently, a few ne’er-do-wells had taken the time to scrawl their monikers on the painting, tagging it with their signatures. Shame. Vandalizing art is tantamount to burning books as far as I’m concerned.
Yet the vandalism is not the most unfortunate aspect of the painting. During flushing, fluids in a toilet become aerosolized and spread out about a yard or so in all directions. Due to the proximity of the painting to the urinal it is probable the art is toxic to more than the eye. The painting is a still life but I don’t doubt that the surface is teeming with squirming, throbbing, icky, deposited nastiness. Worse, any person of average height using the urinal is positioned directly in front of the canvas, mouth a few inches away from the surface (on average, about six inches distant), breathing in and out, blowing colonies of bacteria and horror into the air and then inhaling them deep into the lungs and sinuses. So the good thing about the vandalism that mars the painting, the only reason when graffiti would improve something by damaging it, is that for esthetic reasons the painting is unlikely to be moved during redecorating to anywhere else in the restaurant. Like to the dining area.