Archive for Thursday, May 11, 2006

Teenager accused of vandalizing arts center

May 11, 2006


Artwork is welcome at the Lawrence Arts Center, but not this kind.

Police say a teenager was caught early Wednesday morning spray-painting graffiti onto a brick wall on the rear of the Arts Center, 940 N.H. Another suspect got away.

Steve Richardson, the arts center's maintenance director, is not willing to write it off as a form of healthy self-expression.

"If there was a place for them to do decent graffiti, sure, that would be cool, but that's not the place," he said. "We just got through with the Art Tougeau parade, and that was a very constructive way of being creative. What they did, it takes a whole heck of a lot of time to straighten out."

Police were on routine patrol about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday when they spotted two people in the alley behind the arts center and saw them start walking away quickly. An officer caught up with one of the suspects, later identified as a 17-year-old boy from Lawrence, but the other got away. The officer found spray-paint cans on the ground behind the building and fresh paint on the wall, said Lawrence Police Department spokeswoman Kim Murphree.

Police contacted the boy's mother, released him and told him that Douglas County District Court would be contacting him about possible charges.

Taking care of downtown graffiti has become a higher priority for police this spring. Instead of waiting for residents to report it, officers have been going through alleys documenting it and notifying property owners.

Owners are required by city code to clean up graffiti within two weeks of being notified by police. If they don't want to pay for it, they can call 832-5354 to arrange for the county's community-service coordinator to bring a work crew to the scene.


bankboy119 11 years, 11 months ago

It probably looked better than half the crap around the city.

HighScore 11 years, 11 months ago

Honestly, they should dedicate the north wall to a constantly evolving mural or space for graffitti. The mural that is currently being displayed is an eyesore. I realilze that this mural was likely produced by children, but was it really understood that it would be displayed for as long as it has.

Rhoen 11 years, 11 months ago

HighScore's idea is an excellent one.

Under the assumption that this facility was intended as a community space and not simply intended to pump public funds into the artistic training of various "elites," why NOT allocate that north wall as an area that provides a vigorous, evolving, participatory, and dynamic ground for artistic expression - available to be used by everyone?

Meaningful, powerful art often flows from an anarchistic core.

Training - regimenting - artisitic expression ("No honey, the trees must be GREEN and the sky is BLUE...") deadens the life-force of that creative urge, institutionalizes that expression, and removes it from the world of art into the world of commodities.

Too bad those young artists must now be considered "criminals."

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 11 months ago

some of todays best artists started as "graffitti" artistis. so give them some place to display talent, and save us some money on court cost.

Confrontation 11 years, 11 months ago

I say throw this punk's parents in jail with him! Maybe they can both learn to handle their responsibilites. Perhaps this kid can entertain the other criminals by drawing for them, thus removing the need for magazines.

Fatty_McButterpants 11 years, 11 months ago

Multi: get over the roundabouts already. The horse you are beating is dead and has been for some time now.

Jamesaust 11 years, 11 months ago

On wonders how the police managed to contact this a.w.o.l. mother in the middle of the night.

This is a perfect example of why there should be a curfew for kids - there is no legitimate purpose (other than seeking medical attention) for a kid to be out-and-about at 12:30 a.m. on a schoolnight.

bankboy119 11 years, 11 months ago

There is a curfew James. It's 11 P.M. My friends were cuffed and taken home because they were found out after it when we were in junior high.

blessed3x 11 years, 11 months ago

Maybe the little "artists" can use the side of Rhoen's house for their "artwork".

Rhoen 11 years, 11 months ago

Maybe they already have used my property thusly ... no biggie.

mom_of_three 11 years, 11 months ago

So quick to blame the parents. What if the parent was asleep and assumed the household was? What if the kid snuck out without her knowing it? It doesn't necessarily make her AWOL or a bad parent.

Redneckgal 11 years, 11 months ago

I've found that people who are so quick to blame the parents usaully A) have no kids themselves or B) their own kids are rotten to the core. I never will forget a woman I worked with several years ago. She had an opinion on everyone's kids. From toddler to teenager she new just how you should be raising that kid and wasn't shy about telling you either. Then one night in our hometown newspaper was the name of her darling little teenager. Arrested for fleeing and eluding DUI and possession of mary jane. I suppose I should have felt sorry for her but she had always been so nasty about everybody elses child just didn't have it in me. Ever since then when someone claims to be an expert on child rearing I kind of take it with a grain of salt.

adavid 11 years, 11 months ago

i like highscore's approach. dedicating a specific wall to the purpose of grafitti would not only give these kids an outlet for their vision, but would also demand of them to improve their skills, as most of the graffiti around town sucks. no street artist likes to be shown up by another. that's what graffiti is about these days.

Confrontation 11 years, 11 months ago

I don't think you have to be an expert on raising children to know that kids shouldn't be out at all hours of the night.

blessed3x 11 years, 11 months ago


please keep the roundabout and fruitcake jokes comin'. Sometimes I think they are the only bit of sanity on this forum.

Godot 11 years, 11 months ago

Rhoen, our building was used as a canvas for years. Orange, green, black, white grafitti....whatever the color, whatever the message (usually anti anything) it was ever present. Funny, the cops never caught them defacing our lowly building.....even when the kids were trespassing on our roof and partying and drinking and shouting. We asked the police for help, and got nothing. Apparently, we did not have the necessary connections to merit police protection.

Art Tougeau has become part of the status quo. Why would the punks want to "join" anything that has the blessing of the city government and the Chamber of Commerce?

Make the entire ground floor walls of the Arts Center available to grafitti artists. Free art space! Totally uncontrolled! What a great idea!

homeschool_debater 11 years, 11 months ago

That comment about training resulting in institutionalizing art and stifling the creative force... isn't true. Art is improved by training. There are no "great" artists who ever started out painting graffiti on people's walls. And frankly, graffiti is not art. Profanity, anti-anything messages, obscenities - those are not art. That doesn't take any talent. It's just kids smearing paint on walls and disrespecting other people's property. And it's wrong.

True, great art does not come from an anarchist core. It comes from a love of life, of nature, of God. It comes from a desire to glorify Him with our hands. Michael Angelo, Leonardo DaVinci and the other greats of the Renaissance certainly did not get their inspiration from rebellious thoughts and attitudes.

You want to know what really comes from an anarchist, rebellious core? Terrorists. Murderers. Rapists. Those are the kind of people that rebellion that your definition of "art" produces.

C0LDFISH 11 years, 11 months ago

Graffiti isn't art? You speak with astrounding ingnorance.

I have several points to make, suggestions which I have no way of saying to anybody in a position of authority, and oppinions from my experience as a street art enthusiast.

Firstly, a lot of current issues about troubled youth are caused by bad parenting. Graffiti may in fact be one of the rare exceptions, all of the writers I know have great parents, loving parents. Their ability to go out late at night is a freedom their parents have given them, a display of trust and admiration. Graffiti ARTISTS aren't the sort of destructive kids that are the products of abusive or neglegent parenting, which should be obvious, because graffiti artists choose to bring beautiful expressive things into the world. The source of graffiti artists desire to get up, put something out where people can see it, is almost always outrage with society. The government, the world, the human race.

Second, the idea of erecting a monolith for taggers to paint is something I fully support. A few concrete walls down by the river or in a park would make local graffiti artists happy and probably decrease the amount of graffiti on other properties. It would also be disgusting cheap and easy, to the degree, that, the fact that the city officials who are complaining about graffiti HAVEN'T already done this proves their wholy spiteful and incompetent nature.

Lastly, I hate reading these articles in the newspaper for the same reason that some other people have already mentioned, it's always about money. There's lots of graffiti in Lawrence but the only times I have seen any sort of publicity was for this, The Arts Center, and the hideously snobish Hobbs Taylor Lofts. The Arts Center more than anybody should understand, but regardless, the city put a lot of money into it and therefore dosen't want it looking "low class". The Hobbs Taylor Lofts are even worse, there was a five minute channel 6 report on the terrible vandalization of the cities beloved million dollar lofts, but, upon watching the report the horrible graffiti turned out to just be a few tags. No huge mess, nothing broken, just Rusk and Matic taking some cans to the building. They said they were going to have to pay a lot to clean it up, but, so does every other bussiness in town that gets tagged. Why did the HT Lofts get an article and a tv spot? It's because the rich white owner whined and complained to the city officials and the media centers because he couldn't stand the idea that somebody hates his oversized, overpriced, elietist housing complex.

He should have known that his ivory castle would be despised and defaced from the minute he ordered the removal of that ancient tree, because, as lowly and criminal as graffiti artists may be in the eyes of upstanding citizens it is a strict code of conduct amoung writers, that, even though you might vandalize a wall, you never ever harm nature.

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