Currently Reading: Grafitti Garages

Tacoma’s controversial legal painting walls on Broadway are helping that area

Prolific local graffiti veteran “Sneke” of DVS Crew once told us about the “graffiti solution.” He argued that by putting up respected murals by established writers you could actually prevent tags and the constant re-painting of gray squares on your property.

Although it has had problems with “gang-related messages” and been briefly shut down, the “Garages” on Broadway in Downtown Tacoma works for the same reasons. It’s a solution. Downtown struggles to get business on the weekends and this fully-operational parking garage shuts down every Sunday to let young and aspiring aerosol artists hone their craft. The owner even switched to a short-term parking business model to promote the community involvement, it’s open the other six days a week.

4E really has high regard for Amy McBride from Tacoma Arts Commission, who stuck her neck out on this one. There is a good read about her on the “Post Defiance” blog written by Ben Armstrong. In that feature they recall a story about excessive trash in the can outside “The Garages.” She took a look and found coffee cups, to-go food containers and evidence of the support local businesses are receiving every Sunday because of this program.

It’s reputation has a lot to do with the commissioned sign above the Garages designed by the “Fab Five” muralists. “It gives the space a sense of legality,” McBride reasoned. Tacoma has made the right decision here although it flies in the face of the city’s official position on graffiti.

According to that statement “it generates neighborhood fear, causes instability, signals an increase in crime, lowers property values, hurts business revenue, is economically detrimental to the city, and is a sign of urban decay.”

“The Garages” is a welcome exception to that stance.



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