The Neighborhood’s Going Downhill


Apparently grungy is in. You have your reclaimed wood tables, exposed brick walls, and raw metal beams, all of which add to a certain aesthetic and serve to add a certain hip-ness to the area. Now, according to sociologist Gordon Douglas, a certain amount of graffiti can contribute to the gentrification of a neighborhood.

Long the symptom or result of economic malaise or poverty, graffiti has a predominately negative connotation. According to Douglas “A huge amount of social science throws [graffiti] into a camp of being a sign of crime and disorder.” Baruch College sociologist Gregory Snyder compared rates of violent crime versus graffiti and found that places with more tagging had lower rates of crime. In his book Graffiti Lives, he writes that in SoHo, “residents, tourists, and high-end boutiques, co-exist with graffiti vandalism in a relatively symbiotic fashion.” He claims graffiti-ed neighborhoods “[attract] the type of urban ‘cool’ consumer marketers call ‘taste makers’ and advertisers and retailers so desperately want to reach.”

So that’s probably not an excuse to tag any old wall, but in a world where the works of artists like Banksy can command prices of $100,000, this kind of organic street art may just attract the kind of people that gradually gentrify neighborhoods.

What Sparks Our Fire: The shifting perceptions of what is art vs. vandalism and how the public as a whole reacts to it.

Do you feel graffiti adds to the je ne sais quoi of a neighborhood?

Unconventional Medium


For those of you who haven’t yet heard, the graffiti artist known as Banksy has begun residency in New York City, prompting a scurry by those familiar with his work to search it out and see for themselves. While those of us in NYC are familiar with graffiti, Banksy’s work is more than street tags. His work is more commonly known as street art and has a great deal to say. Often, his pieces will have a social or political commentary and they have been sold for thousands of dollars.


The identity of the artist remains unknown, but his fingerprints have been left all over the city, from Queens to the Meatpacking District, in the form of art installations ranging from moving exhibits to wall paintings to anonymous one-off sales of his work in Central Park. Check out his blog here.


What Sparks Our Fire: The anonymous artist manages to have his voice heard throughout the city, spreading his message through an unconventional medium.

Have you seen any of these pieces in person?