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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Taggers Ruining It For Everyone Else

posted by on June 5 at 13:24 PM

A South End “art wall”—frequently used by local graffiti artists—has come under fire recently from neighboring businesses, who claim they’re being hit hard by taggers.

The art wall, across the train tracks from the Seattle School District’s administrative building on 4th and Lander, “opened” four years ago after the owner of the building—William Bloxom of FC Bloxom, an organic produce distributor—let a friend’s son practice painting on his building.

Since then, the wall has opened up to everyone and graffiti artists from up and down the West Coast occasionally stop and slap some paint on the back of Bloxom’s building. But, as the wall has grown more popular, neighbors say it has brought litter, noise, and problems with parking and tagging to the area.


“[So far] the city’s been pretty passive,” Bloxom says, “but there are other issues with people down here…creating a leverage point [for] the city.” Bloxom says he’s been hearing complaints from neighbors about his”European-style…monolithic sketchpad” and he’s worried his wall may end up disappearing like the long-gone art walls at the Comet or the Vogue, two bars on Capitol Hill. “Every single wall that’s come alive like this has gone away,” he says.

Jesse Edwards, a local artist who frequently uses the wall, says it’s unfortunate that taggers are “shitting in their own bathwater.” Edwards says it’s “not the real artists that go down [to the wall]” and that the site keeps legitimate graffiti artists from painting on other buildings around town. “I’m not going to tear it up all over town if there’s somewhere I can go peacefully paint,” he says.


One of Bloxom’s biggest neighbors is the Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) railroad company. Their state headquarters and train yards are just down the street from Bloxom’s warehouse, and BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas says his company is tightening security to ward off taggers. “We’re investigating who this was,” Melonas says.”But if it was indeed taggers working on the art wall…[our] agents can actually make arrests. We don’t any injuries and we don’t want graffiti on our equipment.”
Melonas says BNSF internal security recently issued citations, but would not give further details.

While Melonas says it’s not BNSF’s goal to shut down the art wall, Bloxom says he might have to close it down if he keeps getting pressure from neighbors. “I think what it’s going to take is people who use the wall…self-[policing] it,” he says.’

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I've always wanted to own a building with an art wall like this, encouraging good stuff and painting over the ugly. But it would probably end up the same way as this one...

Posted by Abby | June 5, 2008 1:32 PM

I'm so sick of people defending taggers and graffiti artists. They're goddamned vandals, and they should all have the shit beaten out of them.

Posted by Carlita | June 5, 2008 1:32 PM

Jesse is also somewhat responsible for people etching 3A into the glass of various businesses in Seattle. Anything he has to say about personal the responsibility of graffiti artists or taggers is moot if he is part or figurehead of an organization that seeks to put their stamp on anything and everything.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 5, 2008 1:36 PM

I prefer graffiti to the grey blocks of paint the "Seattle Beautification Society" so lovingly replaces tags with. Has anyone else notice near Pravda on Union the purple building that was repeatedly tagged, and is now dotted with gray splotches?It looks like the building has shingles.
Peeps have been tagging near the Santa Fe Rails for at least a decade. I wish our city had walls that were ok to paint on, they have 'em in Europe, and it creates color where there would only be gray.

Posted by orangekrush | June 5, 2008 1:39 PM

Taggers are assholes. Narcissistic shithead assholes. Scum vassals of entropy.

Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber | June 5, 2008 1:41 PM

Spy on them, catch them, break their fingers, and empty their spray cans into their mouths.

Posted by Fnarf | June 5, 2008 2:00 PM

Apparently, in 223 years, the art wall will still be around, so I don't know why people are freaking out.

Also, BNSF will still be in business.

Posted by joykiller | June 5, 2008 2:00 PM

Note that the Fratelli's Cow Mural at 19th & Madison has been heavily tagged recently, after 20 lovely years of being left alone.


Posted by Andrew Taylor | June 5, 2008 2:08 PM

God invented taggers so that skateboarders would have someone to look down on.

Posted by Tiktok | June 5, 2008 2:10 PM

Taggers always ruin it.

I find water pistols filled with uric acid work best on taggers, IMHO.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 5, 2008 2:11 PM

“I’m not going to tear it up all over town if there’s somewhere I can go peacefully paint,” he says.

That just isn't true.

Posted by Mikki | June 5, 2008 2:15 PM

Can one enjoy graffiti art and fervently hate tagging?

Are they culturally inseparable?

Posted by pgreyy | June 5, 2008 2:16 PM

Graffiti artists who claim to be legit should take their responsability and beat the shit out of taggers.

Posted by Sirkowski | June 5, 2008 2:17 PM

Legitimate artists working on public art walls are just fine. Taggers vandalizing shit just to get off on their own territorialism are the lowest of the low. The punishment for this crime should be branding.

Posted by Greg | June 5, 2008 2:21 PM

The taggers have NOTHING to do with the artists who work on the wall. I've noticed a ton more tags in the Sodo area recently, but I really don't think it's connected to the Free Wall. A lot of the stuff on the free wall is beyond amazing, the tags are shitty tags. Two completely different things. Like Jesse said, if there's a place where people can paint legally, why bother fucking up other people's stuff? The free wall is great, I wish there were more places like it around here.

Posted by lunge | June 5, 2008 2:21 PM

no fnarf, close but wrong. when you catch them, you take their spray cans and use them to break their hands with. then you shit in their mouths while they're screaming in pain.

taggers. god's little mistake.

Posted by j beezer | June 5, 2008 2:23 PM

Remember, if you see taggers, throw rocks at them.

Or empty water bottles.

It makes them stronger.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 5, 2008 2:28 PM

is that Savage's swishy poodle in the background of the first photo?

Posted by josh bomb | June 5, 2008 2:29 PM

Lunge, there's a lot more tagging going on all across's not just SODO, it's everywhere.

*Does this mean that there's more gang activity going on (as the police tends to suggest)?


*Does this mean that there are just more assholes out there (as I'm more likely to believe)?


*Does it simply mean that the local hip hop scene is growing (as there are those who have always culturally defined hip hop as: rapping, dj'ing, breaking and bombing)?

And if the last explanation is true, is there any way to celebrate the hip hop scene and still demonize tagging? Because tagging is annoying, pointless and ugly...things I do NOT associate with the local hip hop scene., I'm going to go back to just thinking that there are just a whole lot more assholes in Seattle than there used to be.

(And I'm going to do that while continuing to bemoan how fucking white and how fucking old I am that I actually take the time to analyze the shit I like in ways like this.)

Posted by pgreyy | June 5, 2008 2:37 PM

i dont understand tagging. isnt writing nonesense on walls what you do when your three years old or something?

Posted by douglas | June 5, 2008 3:10 PM

Hey, let's solve the budget crisis and tagging at the same time!

How about Bounties for turning in taggers, paid for by a carbon tax on SUVs?

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 5, 2008 3:10 PM

The Vogue location with the graffiti wall was in Belltown, not Cap Hill. The only permanent piece was the Mother Love Bone logo, which somehow warmed my grunge-hating heart.

Posted by Eric F | June 5, 2008 3:19 PM

Self policing = Lord of the Flies.

Tres Hobbesien.

Posted by PC | June 5, 2008 3:44 PM

@16, you can get rid of shit with lots of toothpaste. Paint lasts longer and will reduce their IQs even further, to the point where they may actually need help going to the toilet for the rest of their lives. I think that's better.

Posted by Fnarf | June 5, 2008 4:25 PM

fnarf, i commend you for thinking towards the future, sir.

Posted by j beezer | June 5, 2008 4:55 PM
if there's a place where people can paint legally, why bother fucking up other people's stuff?

Because for every graffiti artist who just wants to express him/herself, there are ten punks who just want to cause property damage.

Posted by keshmeshi | June 5, 2008 4:58 PM

To all you idiots on the thread that think graffiti isn't an art form can eat a dick. You have no idea how long some of these people put into doing what they do. Years of time spent on making their style different from the rest. Using their art form to greaten areas of the ghettos where gang tagging is at times overwhelming. Using the art form to design shirts and other styles of clothes that some of you idiots probably wear. It's sad that so many people on this thread are so closed minded to letting people express themselves and show off the talent that they do have. Seattle is one of the most artistic cities in the US and to other look this form of art is just pure ignorant on your part. Bash taggers, bash graffiti writers but you should stop and think for a minute that they are not all the same and some are going it for the greater good.

Seattle needs more free walls!

Posted by Seattle206 | June 5, 2008 5:08 PM

Seattle206, my remarks are aimed solely at taggers, who are not artists.

Posted by Fnarf | June 5, 2008 5:12 PM

word @ 27. people need to chill out!!
there are a lot of shitty, egotistical taggers, but there are just as many who create works of art all over our city. taking down the free walls will only make things worse.

Posted by tiffany | June 5, 2008 6:35 PM

There are always self-righteous, judgemental, clueless commenters on Slog, but posts about graffiti seem to bring out the really violent ones. I don't get it. If Carlita, Karlheinz Arschbomber, Fnarf, Will in Seattle, Sirkowski, Greg and J Beezer feel this passionately about this issue- to the point of encouraging violence against the perps- why aren't they out there like Joe Connolly in Los Angeles? The electronic hatin' must make you feel all big, but to me it's just lame. No one cares what you say on your internet soap box.

Besides all the hate, I think pgreyy @ 12 asks a couple of interesting questions. (Can one enjoy graffiti art and fervently hate tagging? Are they culturally inseparable?)

You might be missing the point of graffiti if you separate the big, colorful murals from the simple tags. Tagging is how the most brilliant, famous graffiti artists got the status they have today. It's a learning process. To understand this better, I suggest you watch the documentary called Infamy. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube. Just keyword "infamy graffiti" I think it is broken into about 10 parts.

I admit that I am disappointed in some tags that I see around Seattle because I feel that they don't have artistic merit. But I feel the same way about a band that plays in public and happens to suck. To me the players aren't really going for it, aren't really pushing themselves to be their very best. It's the same with graffiti. You gotta practice in your notebook some more. Push yourself as a writer/artist. Occasionally, there are some tags that stop me in my tracks because the writer is so skilled. It might be just a simple pen line, but you know skill when you see it.

Also, pgreyy @ 19, I think the reason there are a lot more tags all over town now is because America is starting to go into crisis mode. Crime always goes up when the economy goes to shit. It is the natural urban backlash.

To keshmeshi @ 26, I think I see where your logic might be coming from, but it's off a bit. They don't "just want to cause property damage," no- they just want to Leave Their Mark. They certainly aren't thinking about property and value and the owners they offend. It's all the same public and private space, waiting to be tagged. There's a slight difference there.

Long live urban art. Everyone get yourself to BLVD Gallery in Belltown.

Posted by Jamey | June 5, 2008 9:27 PM

Jamey, so taggers are just sociopaths or narcissists? Are all graffiti artists? Yeah, a real respectable bunch the people that have shows at BLVD are.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 5, 2008 11:05 PM

@31 ... violent? LOL, you think that's violent?

Only in Seattle would you think that's violent.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 6, 2008 1:09 AM

it's embarassing the way that you jock seedr, find a real writer, there are many here. giving a narcissistic egomaniac ink is so, so retarded.

Posted by c'mon jonah | June 6, 2008 7:09 AM

I commend William Bloxom for allowing the free wall to stay up as long as it has. Hopefully it will continue for a long time too. It is one of my favorite places in the city to visit. There are not many places in the city you can go to on a daily basis and see new art? Seattle needs more free walls.

It is sad how many of the comments here are ironically stupid. I won't even touch on the sexual kinks of #16... How is it that you can feel so strongly against graffiti, and yet you blindly walk past advertisements being jammed down your throat all day long? No one ever wants to "Spy on them, catch them, break their fingers, and empty their spray cans into their mouths." though, why? How is it any different than graffiti? Because they pay for the spot they are using? Do you see any benefit from that transaction? How is a huge McDonald's billboard for "100% beef" (with burgers as the zeros) any better than a tag on a wall?

Personally, I love seeing new art around the city, "legal" or not. It keeps my perspective of my surroundings fresh and brightens my day. Color is nice on a drab gray concrete wall.

Posted by Slightlynorth | June 6, 2008 8:24 AM

slightly north, how is the billboard any better? because money went from one person to another for the value of that space on the billboard. say what you will about the aesthetics, a tag on property causes money to be spent that wasn't allocated for that purpose.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | June 6, 2008 9:07 AM

But if I were to own a building and decided to pay an artist to come paint on it I could be fined by the city until I painted over it should someone complain about it. Why is the same not true for billboards? Because some corporation with lots of money owns it? Seems like a bit of a double standard to me.

Back on topic though, people have always found ways to write their name on things, regardless of who owns it. They will always do this. Fighting it with idle threats online and by taking away legal spaces like the SoDo free wall are like spitting at the rain. It is the same as skateboarding was back in the 90's. There was no where for kids to skate legally, and it was a big deal when businesses started complaining about all the kids skating on their property. Finally, neighborhoods and cities have realized that giving skateboarders a designated place to do what they do, the problem has greatly gone away. The same is true for graffiti artists. Give them a legal place to get up, and largely the problem will go away. It won't COMPLETELY go away of course, but at least it addresses the issue in a positive way.

Posted by Slightlynorth | June 6, 2008 10:56 AM

Parking? Graffiti artists showing up for the art wall are causing PARKING problems? How many of them are there? Oh wait, they're not parking in front of that woman's house, are they? That's her spot...

Billboards vs. tagging and/or graffiti art... riiiiight... I'm sure if these taggers got back to their car or bicycle or mother's house, and found you spray painting it... all of a sudden, they'd care about property. Their own.

Posted by CP | June 6, 2008 9:06 PM

Man, I thought we lived in a place that accepts people for who they are. A place that fosters expression and diversity. I find it interesting that some Stranger readers feel so strongly against graffiti. To CArlita @ #2, I really hope your not a fellow brown sister thinking like that. Come on now, you should get slapped. Come say that shit to my face girl. All you other sucka's.... If you don't know, well now you know. I gotta go, or else I'd punk all you haters out. By the way, I probably make more money from my graffiti art now than half you bitches claiming private property in your suit and ties, modern day slaves. You gringo's are on stolen land anyways. That shit ain't yours, it's my peoples land. MF haters, I let people know through my rebel art what the system has done. Fuck All Y'all.

Posted by Hoacksdiggy | June 7, 2008 12:44 AM

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