Regarding Patricia Sauthoff's article and interview with the alleged "rainbow artist," (Arts, "Rainbow Warrior," Aug. 12-18) is it art or vandalism? It doesn't matter if it's art. If it is permanently painted on someone else's property, private or public, and without the owner's permission, it's vandalism. No excuses. It's vandalism.
That the city should indeed be paying more attention to other clean up jobs or other crimes is irrelevant and a spurious argument. If it's on somebody else's property without permission, it's still vandalism.
It doesn't matter that the (in my opinion) pathetic building monstrosity at 6th and Central is abandoned, and taken over by the city, the property still belongs to someone else who did not give permission to have this done to it, therefore it is vandalism.
The wall at Union Square and Central, on the other hand, is part of a building that is not abandoned and is private property. And the wall seems to be made of well-kept vintage brick. Now it's ruined. That is vandalism.
And, just for the discussion, are these rainbow paintings art? One of the definitions of kitsch is something which puts itself forward as art by attempting to generate a positive emotional response it does not deserve. I believe these rainbow paintings could fit that definition. Actually, they look like advertising for a house paint manufacturer, or maybe illustrations for a greeting card. By the way, art must also be well crafted. At Union Square and Central it is sloppy and spattered down below.
Besides, even if this person had painted on these walls a Sistine-caliber art work, if it's on someone else's property without permission, it's still vandalism.
The real challenge to an artist would be to have displayed the rainbow without damaging the property in any way. Perhaps unfurling wide weighted ribbons or something, which could quite easily be removed. Of course, then we still have to address the fact that getting up on the roof without permission is trespassing.
The Fractal Foundation has put up rather large banners (that are easily removed) of interesting and colorful artwork by students and others on the sides of buildings with full permission. Why can't this person? Involving students, it would then be a welcome creative service to others.
I think the thing I dislike most is this person's dewy-eyed self-justifications. There are lots of ways for any artist to offer good feelings and creativity and beauty to others that do not include vandalism. The same sort of justifications are used by the graffiti taggers. Occasionally some of that is quite good, although most of it is terrible. But once again, it doesn't matter if it's good or not. If it's on someone else's property without permission, it is vandalism.