“using graffiti to mentor the youth”
Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. What’s prized by one person, might be despised by another. What’s priceless to some, means little to others. With street art this is even more the case. What some call vandalism, others see as bold, beautiful, and expressive. What some paint over, others want to frame. But on one thing, most agree. When graffiti is scrawled on a park bench, private business, or freeway overpass, it impacts community pride, spawns fear, and contributes to gang violence. Indeed, graffiti is an ongoing problem in many of San Diego’s older urban centers, creating a dismal backdrop for even the brightest efforts at revitalization. In one such community, however, something entirely different is taking place. Graffiti is being used as a tool for the very transformation the neighborhood seeks. In southeastern San Diego, four miles east of downtown, a vibrant street art culture is leading the way as a group of artists builds their skills and shares their talent, bringing young people into the heart of a community-led effort to turn brownfields and blight into projects of promise — while at the same time raising awareness and respect for graffiti as the art form it truly is.
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