By Scott Harrison | email@example.com
Photo By Phil Sunkel | Psunkel@hype-mag.com
St. Augustine, Fla. is the nation’s oldest city decorated with historical architecture.
However, these famous landmarks could be in danger. Last year alone, a couple people spray-painted a blue fish on the Castillo de San Marcos and two teenage boys defaced a lion on the Bridge of Lions.
Although restitution fines can reach thousands of dollars for those convicted of graffiti, is this preventing artist from painting? Tagging of graffiti continues to be found along the downtown area with the outside of the old school house on Sanford Street being a repetitive target.
Are these acts of rebellion or artistic expression? Should these paintings be considered vandalism or masterpieces?
Cody Hamilton, 20, of St. Augustine has turned his passion for spray-painting into a profession, doing murals for boating companies, churches and youth groups in Central Florida. He talks of creating a mural piece for St. Joseph’s Academy in St. Augustine soon. These jobs are classified legal.
“It’s ecstatic, it puts me in a good mood especially when your with all your friends,” says Hamilton.
Hamilton, who does admit he gets more of a thrill when painting illegally, has gotten caught for graffiti at age 16, serving a hundred hours of community service.
“It’s just another medium, people use paint brushes and I use spray paint,” he says. “People see a spray can, they think of gang violence and other stereo types.”
St. Augustine’s Public information officer Mark Samson talks about having designated areas in town where graffiti artists can come and paint freely with other painters. This would solve the problem of property destruction, restitution and incrimination of artist who’s means are innocent self-expression.
“I feel it is wrong to tag smothered property, private or public. It always creates a victim,” Samson says. I’d have to say no, graffiti is not an art form unless someone has permission to do it.”
Sadie Rimkus a junior at Flagler College agrees with Samson stressing the silliness of tagging property.
“Just throwing up a tag is branding architecture,” Rimkus says. “It’s marking your territory, similar to a dog peeing on a tree.”
For others the issue is circumstantial. There seems to be a border where art transforms into vandalism.
“Finely done murals are more creditable if the artist is asked by an organization to do so but when its on a historical monument it destructs historical value,” says Flagler College adjunct professor Lauren Hill.