Austin, artists tackle art and public spaces disfigured by graffiti

AUSTIN (KXAN) – A worried KXAN viewer asked if the city of Austin had seen more graffiti recently.

Over the past three years, complaints to Austin 311 have fluctuated. The following figures go from January 1 to December 1 for each year. In 2019, the city recorded 2,997 service requests to clean up graffiti. The following year, in 2020, that number increased to 3,557. Then, in 2021, the number fell to 2,860. These service requests included calls regarding public health issues related to the reduction of graffiti, graffiti on parks, streets, bridges and more.

The artist Carmen Rangel, who passes vivalapainter in line, stands in front of a mural she created that says “Be alright” off N. Lamar Blvd., Austin. December 29, 2021 (KXAN Photo / Frank Martinez)

This is a problem that closely affects local artists when their work is vandalized. For Carmen Rangel, it has already happened.

“My work has been disfigured several times,” she said. “At first, honestly, it would really hurt me and I think I got tough.”

It’s a risk that she and so many street performers are prepared to face.

“I feel like it’s kind of part of the process of being a public artist, you know, you put your work out there and it’s going to be exposed not just to the elements but to the graffiti,” Rangel said. .

She admits that she loves graffiti and is inspired by it. However, she also loves public art and murals, some of which she creates, so whenever these pieces are vandalized, she says :, it costs a lot of money to buy these materials to fix a mural.

Rangel said she usually ends up cleaning it.

“Whenever a mural is labeled, or something like that happens, artists often pay for the paint and materials to fix the project themselves,” Rangel said. “I’m just taking my gear and going to fix it ASAP. “

If it is a work of art in public places in the city of Austin, it is the responsibility of the artist to maintain these works of art, including the removal of graffiti. Depending on the damage caused by the graffiti, if it is too extensive or in too difficult areas, the artist will be paid to repair the damage. If an artist determines that city crews can clean it up, the city will come in and remove the graffiti.

Downtown, the Downtown Austin Alliance preserves most of the artwork. However, graffiti on private property, such as a business, is the responsibility of the business owner to take care of it. If it is art, it depends on the agreement between the owner and the artist.

The city encourages people to call 311 to report graffiti in public places. From there, 311 will determine which department is responsible for the area or structure.

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