San Francisco News

Mission residents fight graffiti with local art

Monday, June 25, 2012

Some neighbors in San Francisco's Mission District are fighting fire with fire -- or in their case, they're battling graffiti with more graffiti. Their unorthodox way of cleaning up the neighborhood seems to be working.

To most people a white wall is just that, but to a tagger it's an invitation.

So a group of neighbors at their wit's end tried something new -- the covered their walls with art, some of it by the very same people who used to tag these walls as teenagers.

"As a kid, I was running around these alleyways and you know, of course, vandalizing things," artist Mace said.

Now, Mace is part of the graffiti crew "Ex-Vandals," along with local artist Cuba.

"Since I been painting with these cats, my whole life has improved, as an artist, as a human being," Cuba said.

Within six weeks, they turned almost all of Lilac Alley into a giant mural.

To some local teens, it's like living in an art gallery, but cooler.

"Really nice refreshing feeling every time they paint over their old works, kind of like stepping into a new part of the city every three weeks," neighbors Mateo and Marcus said.

And as for the taggers -- you won't see many of their names scrawled here anymore. They don't like to vandalize work that's done by their role models.

"Most of the younger kids today respect what we do because they're trying to reach this level, so that's the way that we beat them and prevent them from coming back and writing on top of walls," artist Anthony G. said.

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Tags:
mission district, art, vandalism, san francisco news, jonathan bloom
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