A local business owner spearheaded a graffiti cleanup evening with the help of Spokane City Council members.
The “Paint-Over-the-Graffiti Party,” was Tuesday night at Liberty Park. Volunteers, business owners, and City Council members painted over graffiti and shared some pizza.
David’s Pizza owner, Mark Starr, has lived in Spokane since the 1970s and is “very proud of the town,” he says.
“I want our guests when they come into Spokane to see a wonderful city,” Starr said. “I want our residents to be proud of where they’re at. It’s difficult when you have people abusing our walls with tagging and painting anything that doesn’t move.”
Starr began reaching out to the city over a year ago and all the pieces came together to coordinate an event.
Graffiti cleanup can cost business owners thousands of dollars, Starr said.
One of the walls in the park had been painted over a with gray paint a month and a half prior and was already covered in graffiti again, said Luis Garcia, enforcement supervisor with the City of Spokane Code Enforcement Department.
Council members Lori Kinnear and Breean Beggs helped plan the event and were at the park Tuesday evening.
“It took a long time to get all the pieces together to actually get it to happen,” Kinnear said of the event.
Addressing graffiti is part of listening to community concerns, Kinnear said.
However, she does see graffiti as an art form in some cases, she said.
“I personally think we need a venue to have graffiti artists to be able to display their work,” Kinnear said.
Right now, she is working on an alley activation project in downtown Spokane where a 250-square-foot mural will “contribute to a safe, colorful, vibrant pathway,” the call to artists by Spokane Arts stated. The pilot project is between Wall and Howard streets.
For Beggs, the event is about “reclaiming a public space,” he said.
Both Kinnear and Beggs represent District 2 and they have been working toward addressing constituents’ “quality of life” concerns, he said.
“It’s great to say ‘Nope, this belongs to us,’ ” Beggs said of painting over the graffiti.
He hopes to transform this energy into “more organized art.”
“It’s got to be that combination of some structure and lots of free spiritedness,” Beggs said. “How you get that – that’s where a city is vibrant.”
“We’ve been talking about the Spokane vibe and good art brings that,” Beggs said.
Beth Koller attended the graffiti event with her children.
The kids did most of the painting over a wall that said, “who cares” in big bubble letters.
“I think it just creates more a sense of ownership for the whole town not just your house,” Koller said. “I hope that it will instill that sense of pride that they’ll take care of the community in the future.”
Both Beggs and Kinnear said they hope to host more similar events.
“I think this is the inaugural and we’ll be able to do others,” Kinnear said.
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