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A new side to graffiti

April 25th, 2012 · 1 Comment



SPUD holding up one of his artworks of Ford’s face. Jelena Subotic/Gleaner News

By Jelena Subotic

For the first time ever, SPUD, one of Toronto’s most reputable graffiti artists, opened a show of recent works focused on Mayor Rob Ford’s war on graffiti.

Censored, a show of his work that appeared at the Don’t Tell Mama gallery (108 Ossington Ave.), is on canvas for the first time in his career.

The exhibit focuses on Ford but it also shows SPUD’s true artistic side.

Ford’s war on graffiti pushed SPUD to raise his own war and use the mayor as inspiration in his recent work.

“He raised war, so fight back. I’m doing it anyways, so might as well do it, and have fun with it,” SPUD says.

Ford declared a war on graffiti last April and it has encouraged SPUD and other graffiti artists to do more art. “It helps having Rob Ford around to provoke some of these artists and because of them being provoked and having the heart to go out and do stuff, their arts excelled because of it,” said SPUD.

Ford was invited to the show’s opening, but declined due to prior engagements.

The show consisted of about 50 to 60 pieces incorporating SPUD’s take on Ford and the city. One of the pieces featured in the exhibit, “Going off the Rails on a Gravy Train,” shows Ford as a locomotive literally going off the rails into a pit of gravy and fries.

The owner of the gallery, Paolo Dalla Rosa has represented SPUD and other graffiti artists when others are not willing to. “Although it may be considered criminal, it doesn’t delegitimize these guys, these street artists. It doesn’t delegitimize their art, and it doesn’t delegitimize them,” said Dalla Rosa.

Ford sees the graffiti debate differently. Once he launched his attack on graffiti, he also forced property owners to clean graffiti off of their buildings, and charge them for the work.

“Not only has [Ford] declared the war on graffiti artists, he’s making victims out of these small business owners by giving them deadlines, making them pay for it,” says Dalla Rosa.

What SPUD and Dalla Rosa hoped to achieve with the exhibit is emphasize the war on graffiti and the culture shift graffiti and street art have taken.

The exhibit gives a voice to graffiti as an art form, and both SPUD and Dalla Rosa think the conversation between graffiti artists and the city needs to change.

One way to do this, according to Dalla Rosa, could include working with the artists.

“Ford has not hid the fact that he doesn’t support the arts, and especially graffiti. What I think is dangerous is to ignore these things and to try and supress them, the way the mayor is,” Dalla Rosa says.

“What people don’t understand people are scared of. Graffiti is an art form they can’t control, that’s also why it’s easy to pick on us,” SPUD says.

Shifting perceptions with any art form takes time. “There’s more recognition being given now, which is good, but this doesn’t happen overnight. It took one stupid thing like this to finally get realized,” SPUD says.

But, with Ford as mayor, the graffiti war will continue, says Dalla Rosa.

“Just declaring war is just absurd and declaring war on your own citizens, it blows my mind. Hopefully our city will learn not to elect these right winged lunatics.”

Right now, graffiti is not an acceptable art form, SPUD says. But shedding light on the issue through the show is a start. In the meantime things are changing and will continue to change.

“Vote for me. SPUD for mayor.”

Tags: Liberty · Arts · People · General

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 SPUDbomb | // Oct 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    […] here to check out the article. This entry was posted in Art, Journalism, People, Toronto by […]