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Cranky Neighbors Cranky About Graffiti Mural

By Amy Mikel in News on Aug 12, 2008 4:51PM

2008_8_12_ashland.jpgChicagoist is home to some hearty discussions about whether or not illegal street graffiti can be considered “art." It’s so customary to associate graffiti with vandalism, as soon as artists completed a commissioned graffiti-style mural on the exterior walls of The Ashland bar in West Lakeview, the complaints from area residents started rolling in.

Among the complaints issued to (32nd) Ald. Scott Waguespack’s office: that The Ashland had been vandalized, that the mural was an eyesore, and that owners were using the graffiti to tag the bar as a gang-friendly spot:

"Sometimes people see art and they rush to judge it," [owner Adam] Schenck said. "Someone jumped to the conclusion that we were getting together with gang members to paint on the wall, when in fact it's quite the opposite. ... It's just a bunch of young artists who have access to a bigger canvas than they've ever been afforded before."

The actual mural is completely legal; although the city publishes and distributes official urban design guidelines, most are “voluntary” and no one is legally bound to comply. Even the Commission on Chicago Landmarks doesn’t care what color you paint your house.

Photo by Michael Rioux