Dallas Officials report a surge in graffiti with bigger displays and more of them.
Between October and December of 2019, the city removed graffiti from 508 locations compared with just 277 during the same period in 2018.
Large red letters have recently been painted high on a wall of the Interstate 30 Canyon downtown.
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Colorful graffiti covers both sides of a railroad bridge over Interstate 35E downtown, a location that’s been less thoroughly tagged in the past.
Some people consider it art that should be promoted.
Mural artist Eder Martinez said he started out making public graffiti, including marks on that I-35E railroad bridge.
“Yes it is all art and it should be encouraged. Other cities and states have done so many beautiful things by encouraging this,” he said.
Martinez now supports a legal graffiti location in West Dallas called Fabrication Yard. It’s an old industrial building on Fabrication Street near Sylvan Avenue.
“We got caught and busted and some of us fought to get this open so we wouldn’t have to get busted and have to deal with legal problems,” he said. “It’s art and depending on where you place it, it might not be art. It depends on how you look at things honestly.”
The building is owned by Butch McGregor, a partner in the nearby Trinity Groves restaurant, retail and apartment development on Singleton Avenue.
“The City of Dallas asked us if we would allow this and we said ‘Yea, it’s great for us,” McGregor said. “We said how do we get people out here and people will go for two things. Food and art.”
As graffiti artists were encouraged to channel their creativity to Fabrication Yard, the graffiti spread to all the old metal industrial buildings in what’s known as the Tin District.
McGregor said there have been a few problems with unwanted behavior in the district, but overall the experience has been good.
“We don’t want it shut down. We want to see what we can do to make it better and see what we can do to encourage it more,” McGregor said. “It’s a very creative area. We have other artists out here.”
Martinez said the artistic atmosphere will attract people from other cities were graffiti is common.
“Newcomers who come in from other states might feel at home,” he said.
Dallas Police sometimes see graffiti as gang territory tagging.
City of Dallas policy is to abate graffiti found in public places.
The Texas Department of Transportation considers it vandalism that should be removed as soon as possible.
“I honestly think the city should leave that alone and maybe other artists who are well rounded off and a lot more talented can cover that up,” Martinez said.
Judging from the numbers, whatever the reason, graffiti is increasing in Dallas.