Today, the Daily News, in typical anti-street art fashion, published a story declaring a "crackdown on train graffiti vandals paying off, thanks to team of ex-cops." They patriotically applaud the dedicated NYC Transit Eagle Team for fending off the "old-school graffiti vandals" (who they believe can open the door to "bad guys intending to do much worse"). But one of these old-school graffiti vandals told us the whole thing is a bunch of baloney.
"I think [the News article] is a little hyperbolic," Carlos "Mare 139" Rodriguez, former subway graffiti artist, sculptor, and NYU Scholar in Residence, told us this morning. "This has been established for years now—yeah, there's very little subway graffiti on trains these days. That's because it's done differently now—you're seeing stuff on the streets, or murals, or other activities, even in the world of fine art. A lot of graffiti kids have found professional lives. These 'graffiti down' numbers are a symbol, at best."
Mare believes what the MTA should really be fighting now is the damage caused by the thousands of advertising stickers plastered across trains and in stations. He told us, "If they're so concerned with visual pollution, I think they need to address those matters," (perhaps the two sides can discuss this over coffee at PowerHouse?) Because if we're not careful, subway stickers might one day be considered art that will fail to secure funding for a museum show, too.