Graffiti artists will be given the chance to decorate a city-owned building — even though a high-profile public vandalism debate is brewing at city hall over a proposed graffiti bylaw.
While the new bylaw will fine property owners for failing to remove graffiti, the city is also funding a Cultural Capital of Canada program that is handing out $22,000 to fund an arts workshop for city taggers.
“We’re not really that interested in the politics of it all, but we’re concentrating on the art of it,” said project leader and artist Ian Mulder. “We’re bringing people together, giving artists a chance to collaborate in a legitimate, fair, open venue.”
Graffiti artists will compete for space on five murals that will be displayed on the iHuman building, near Jasper Ave. and 95 St.
The building is owned by the city and supports a youth program designed to assist teens living high-risk lifestyles. Mulder said he was aware of the apparent irony in the city funding a graffiti artist program while simultaneously cracking down on business owners who fail to remove it, but stressed that the program is more interested in artistic collaboration.
“Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is make the city look and feel better. This is just about the art, that’s all,” he said.