Debate over street art in South Bend continues

To some, it’s an eyesore. To others, it’s eye-catching.

Art straight from the streets is being tagged on the walls of Artpost in downtown South Bend.

And as the new exhibit opens up, so does a familiar debate – is it really art?

“The Latino community had a lot of murals and that was art to me,” said South Bend Police Captain Darryl Boykins. “But some things you know are gang signs. To me, that's vandalism, I don't think that's graffiti.”

Boykins and the rest of the South Bend Police Department have worked with crews to help eliminate graffiti throughout the city.

But artists argue they’re painting over a positive message.

“A lot of them feel what they’re doing is taking back the space for the public, the space that has been dominated by marketing messages, advertising, commercial, state or governmental buildings,” said John Sherry, chair of Notre Dame’s Marketing Department.

But folks in live in neighbors that have been tagged have a different interpretation.

“Hell no, it ain’t art,” said South Bend resident Benito Fuentes. “Go to school and learn how to be an artist.”

It’s left a very fine line between creativity and crime – one that some artists will continue to just paint around.

“There’s one saying the quickest way to learn something is by taking risk because you experience failure faster,” said Art Activist Ish Muhammad. “And that's one thing that is developed in the artist when they're putting their street art in the public for free or taking the risk of going to jail for it. Now they're giving their artwork a value.”

“Post All Bills: Art Inspired by the Street” will be on display at Artpost through August 26.


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