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I am passing this message from a reader along without comment (though I may try to get some photos of the panels in question later today, which are on I Street between Half and First), to throw open the floor to the folks who live and work in Near Southeast (or who are thinking about it). What's your opinion of this reader's concerns? Leave your thoughts in the comments:
"Just wondering what is going on with the grafitti panels across from the Axiom/Jefferson building. I am trying to convince a couple of friends to move into the building, but this is making it difficult. Yesterday, one of these friends and I walked over to the Jefferson building. We immediately saw these panels since they are very prominent and look like grafitti on NYC subway cars back in the late 80s. My friend then said that she feels unconfortable moving to an area where there is grafitti all over the place. I am also noticing more and more grafitti in the neighborhood and this doesn't help with convincing people to move to this area."
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Sophia says: (7/13/09 11:16 AM)
It's an official, sanctioned art project. We stopped and talked to the artists for a while on Saturday... they were very friendly. Their work is high quality, it's not like random tags done by 13 year olds.

I personally think it's a selling point that our neighborhood has some character. And it beats the "condos, Condos, CONDOS!!" signs that litter our skyline.


Michael Letschin says: (7/13/09 11:55 AM)
I have to agree with the first post, I would much rather look at high quality grafitti that is sponsored that the empty lot and ugly fence. It is not like we have a rampant grafitti problem in the area.

I have to wonder if people are so offended by an art exhibit in a up and coming and growing neighborhood in the city, then maybe it is not the right place for you to live.


Justin from ReadysetDC says: (7/13/09 12:01 PM)
I agree with Sophia. It adds the human element. I don't see how this could make anyone uncomfortable, but everyone has their own views.


Ed says: (7/13/09 12:36 PM)
I ran by on Sunday as one of the artists was finishing up and was impressed. I am a little surprised that the condo-powers-that-be would encourage this project as it will definitely turn off some people. But I'm a fan.


Pat says: (7/13/09 12:51 PM)
Nobody cares if you're having difficulty getting your friends to move into your condo building. And if she's scared by a little graffiti, especially more than the other elements of crime that take place in the neighborhood, well obviously, this place is not for her. This isn't Mayberry, where you freak out over any little bit of graffiti anywhere. This is DC. Graffiti is a part of life.


Pat says: (7/13/09 12:52 PM)
And the graffiti is not all over the place. Take here up to Shaw or NE if she wants to see graffiti all over the place.


Ben says: (7/13/09 1:17 PM)
As someone who lives in the neighborhood and wants to see it develop and thrive, I am very concerned that they are having difficulty getting their friends to move into the neighborhood. That said, it sounds like their graffiti concerns are misplaced, as this is a sponsored art project and not random tagging. I haven't noticed any graffiti problems, so maybe this person just needs to explain to their friends what is going on.


Sophia says: (7/13/09 2:29 PM)
I also think it is an unexpected twist that our neighborhood might end up with lots of off center / creative / artsy draws. With Artomatic, outdoor movies, trapeze school, Capitol Skyline pool parties, we've got a lot going on and it will help us stand out from more vanilla condo / office neighborhoods.

Near Southeast... not Near Crystal City : )


the other jd says: (7/13/09 3:14 PM)
The friend (and anyone interested in crime in Near Southeast) should make an evaluation based on credible crime information like the PSA 105 Yahoo Group which houses our local crime data as entered by the MPD. Also conveniently located on JD's Near Southeast Data Feed. We've had some thefts in the area but by and large, we are free of violent crimes especially as compared to other (much "nicer") parts of the city.

Separately, has anyone figured out how many congressman live in our neck of the woods? I know of several (a few in CHT) and I think it could be said that if it's good enough for them...


Tony D says: (7/13/09 4:39 PM)
I agree with the majority opinion here. I was thrilled to see more activity in our neighborhood. I've stopped a couple of times while walking my dog and the artists doing the 'grafitti' were very polite and explained why they were there.

Removable grafitti-art is a big improvement over just another empty lot. I also liked the attempt at growing sunflowers on the K St side of the block (part of Artomatic)


Michael says: (7/13/09 6:09 PM)
I think those people are better off not moving to a city anyways; I'm sure they can find some nice exurban town center to move to instead.

It's pretty obvious that the grafitti is art - regardless of sanction - and not gang tags


Adam says: (7/13/09 9:39 PM)
I agree with the other comments. It's very obvious that the panels in question are there specifically for the artwork. It's not like the "graffiti" was scrawled on the side of a building like random defacement that you might see under a bridge or something. I think the artwork is a nice touch to the otherwise barren lot.


Scott says: (7/13/09 10:06 PM)
Anyone who can't figure out that those graffiti panels were art probably also thinks that cans of spray paint have children's teeth inside so they make that rattle when you shake them. (That's an old Simpsons reference, for the humor-challenged.)


goober says: (7/14/09 8:28 AM)
Hate to burst the bubble, but that graffiti ain't art. While I think the friends were overreacting, the graffiti is unattractive and juvenile. If you want art then let there be something decent and tasteful on the panels. Graffiti is usually only art to "white people" hiptards who don't want to seem so white. And by now, sanctioned graffiti is passe and has lost any claim to urban and edgy.


G St says: (7/14/09 9:20 AM)
Concur - "My friend then said that she feels unconfortable moving to an area where there is grafitti all over the place."

High-rise condo dwellers - Enjoy your "art"... but please don't whine about low condo vacancy rates while you do.


Holley says: (7/14/09 10:27 AM)
I agree with the majority here. And to the person who couldn't tell that this is art, not only is the graffiti art, one of the panels has the art project information on it.

Having these colorful panels to look at is much better than having to look at an empty fenced in lot!


Sophia says: (7/14/09 11:49 AM)
@goober, starting conversations about "What is art" is so passe.


Bruce says: (7/14/09 11:53 AM)
I agree with Sophia. If the person has a "graffitti" issue, I would suggest a move to the 'burbs...City life should have character.
Sophia..the house is looking good!


pbarr19 says: (7/14/09 12:19 PM)
Art is art, crap is crap. " I'll know it when I see it." Da ja vue????
Relax, It's not a big deal.


Michael says: (7/14/09 6:18 PM)
I think goober is confusing interior design with art...

I never said in my comments above that I liked the panels as art. That was not really the question.


Ben says: (7/15/09 5:15 PM)
So I guess where we come out is: there is no graffiti problem in the "Front" - or whatever the neighborhood will be rebranded as next week - unless you don't like graffiti art, in which case you may have a problem if you live in the Jefferson or Axiom, and even if we did have a graffiti problem, people who have a problem with that should live in the burbs because they are clearly not cut out for city life. Glad we got that resolved.


Teri says: (7/17/09 12:52 AM)
Hi, I'm one of the ARTISTS involved in the aforementioned project, "StreetScape." I'm honored to be mentioned in this blog, it makes me warm and fuzzy inside. I am a huge fan of JD...

I have to speak up tho, this project is NOT complete, by no fault of OURS. We haven't even gotten our paint ;) although some artists have obviously chipped in their own. We haven't even had the official opening, so I hope some of you will hold judgement till its done. Do you judge a building by the pit dug to build it? Several of the pieces that you may view most prominently are STUDENT's work in progress, as far as I know. The idea was to include the process in the opening -- to have it worked on publicly so people could see the process.

We have many diverse and artists involved, and the artwork will rotate in time. I did projections one night, which people told me they enjoyed.

AND regardless of whether you think graffiti is art or not, there is a huge art scene related to graff. And that, my friends, is a viable art form whether you like it or not, so its really not worth debating.

Rosina Photography

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UNIT B/O M ST SE   BURGLARY
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400 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
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