The War on Graffiti: Toronto's Spud Against the Mayor
Toronto based graffiti artist, Spud, is declaring war on the city’s fight against graffiti. His target, the leader of Toronto’s anti-graffiti efforts, Mayor Robert Ford. Spud’s emerging political undertones in his pieces began on walls of the city, featuring Mayor Ford’s face as a sinister looking caricature. Now Spud is taking steps to make his statement official by moving into galleries, specifically his most recent show “Censored” which is opening tonight at the Don’t Tell Mama Gallery in Toronto.
From Spud’s perspective, this is only the beginning. He and several other graffiti writers are helping to produce a documentary on the work and the war itself called “Between the Lines”. Before Ford was elected to office, graffiti or street art was in the midst of a change. It was being recognized more as a legitimate art form rather than defacement, and acceptance was growing. After Ford was elected he hosted a photo op where he took a power washer to heavily bombed alley. This photo op caught a lot of attention for Ford. Not only from his supporters, but from the artists that he was declaring war on.
As graffiti continues to progress and acceptance grows, it will be increasingly more difficult for authority figures such as Ford to use tax payer dollars to develop and execute these “wars”. With figures like Shepard Fairey and Banksy paving the way in this decade, it’s almost a matter of time before we see more cities working with graffiti and street artists rather than against. Like the WPA from the Roosevelt era meets the hood…or something along those lines.
Don’t Tell Mama gallery is located at 108 Ossington Ave., 2nd floor. Toronto, Canada.
Thumbnail Photo courtesy of Christine Estima for The Grind