The big paintout last weekend, and the security theater that followed, have shown that the City of San Francisco wants very much to be taken seriously in their effort to eradicate graffiti art from Warm Water Cove.
They claim to be doing this with community support.
I don’t believe that’s true.
They haven’t heard from the true community of Tire Beach: the writers, musicians, filmmakers, photographers, DJs, dancers, fringe artists, and fans who have collectively spent more time in that park than anyone else. These are the people whose watchful eyes made it a relatively safe place to be, despite unpleasant conditions and utter neglect from the city. And these are the people who, against all odds, turned this smelly armpit of a park into a place of thriving grass-roots culture. You, dear reader, may be one of these people. And the city hasn’t heard from you.
The good news is, the plan for the future of Warm Water Cove is not yet set in stone. The planners are asking for input from the community (remember, that’s you!) before they make a final proposal. Even better, we have a deadline: if we don’t speak our minds by September 25th, we’ll miss our chance.
Of course, we don’t want to just whine at them. It’s better if we can talk amongst ourselves first, and come up with some kind of coherent plan to bring back the art. Dav Yaginuma has created a discussion group so we can do that. If you have any opinion at all, please join the group. Got a great idea? Share it. Think it’s impossible? Tell us why! Even if you don’t have much to add, join anyway! Numbers can carry a lot of weight.
I’m not taking charge of this effort, or promising to see it through to any specific goal. Heck, I might wake up tomorrow and decide it was all a waste of time. But I feel that at the very least, those who care about the art need to be heard. If that’s you, go ahead and join the group, and let’s make some stuff happen!
A volunteer works to protect the City from unauthorized Art. (Photo by Dav Yaginuma)
Well, the Tire Beach paintout has come and gone, and the walls are now a uniform dark green. I still have many thoughts I’d like to express about these events, but that’ll have to wait. In the meantime, here’s a roundup of the latest articles and postings:
The SF Chronicle 8/4/07
Dav Yaginuma’s blog 8/4/07
Dav Yaginuma’s photos on Flickr
interesting background on Mohammed Nuru, by Josh Wilson 8/4/07
New: Warm Water Cove Supporters (a Yahoo group. Join it and get involved!)
Laughing Squid 8/5/07
KTVU’s slideshow of pre-buff photos [carefully selected to omit all the most colorful pieces!]
SnarkyNinja writes a letter to the mayor, 8/6/07
whatimseeing.com 8/7/07 (with photos of blank walls & signs)
SF Examiner 8/7/07 [note the biased language: “graffiti artists” versus “community members”.]
SFist 8/7/07 [shot of police cruiser and green wall]
Graffiti Archaeology News 8/7/07
Graffiti Archaeology’s timelapse of the eastern wall (click on “cove/eastZ”).
Photos in our Flickr group tagged with “Tire Beach”
funcheap.com discussion 7/25/07
Chicken John 8/3/07
SF Chronicle 8/3/07
SF Examiner 8/3/07
Graffiti Archaeology News 8/3/07
I’ll update this list as I find new links.
I don’t normally like to inject my personal opinion into the discussions around Graffiti Archaeology, because I like to think of the project as having a neutral attitude towards graffiti: not pro- or anti-, but merely documenting what occurs. I also don’t like to say too much about specific places, because I value the discretion that allows them to stay interesting (to me) as graffiti spots.
But it looks like in the case of Tire Beach, the cat is not only out of the bag, but is actively clawing up your sofa. So I’m going to break both of these rules in one post, in the hopes of doing some good.
In case you haven’t already heard the news: a well-meaning group of folks are getting ready to “reclaim” Warm Water Cove, aka Toxic Tire Beach, this Saturday, August 4th, at 9am. Their aims are twofold: clean up the park itself (pull weeds, remove trash, etc.) and paint over all of the graffiti. In their call for participation, they equate weeds, trash, and “graffiti vandalism”, as if these things were somehow one and the same. (The unstated assumption being that graffiti equals danger.) I beg to differ. The weeds and trash can go, but the constantly changing graffiti art on the walls is pretty much the only thing this park has to recommend it. In fact, I’ll go one step further and say that the graffiti is one of the few things that keeps the park safe.