With one move, Hamilton has significantly increased its capacity and support for street art.
Hamilton will be launching its first legal graffiti wall this Saturday, September 21 at Woodlands Park (Wentworth Street North and Barton Street East), led in a coordinated effort by Concrete Canvas and the City of Hamilton.
The exemption of a graffiti wall from a city’s graffiti-related bylaws is a powerful gesture. Not only does the creation of the wall build capacity in public art by providing a space that artists can use to test an idea, experiment with a medium or showcase their abilities, but can also act as a graffiti deterrent for nearby areas (although case studies have shown mixed results). Keeping with the tradition of other walls, it is expected that the City of Hamilton will “wipe” the wall clean several times a year, which is usually done by whitewashing the wall. This effort will not only encourage new work to be made, but will also keep the work on the wall new- something that is sure to draw people to the site repeatedly.
Although once a sign of crime and disorder, the public perception of street art and graffiti has altered as it has contributed to the gentrification and appeal of certain neighbourhoods. In some cases- like Toronto’s Graffiti Alley- these walls and areas have become destinations in themselves, sparking secondary industries with tours, talks, classes and demonstrations occurring as a direct result of the art. There are numerous other direct benefits to public art, including positive mental health effects and the potential for increased economic impact to a neighbourhood.
With this in mind, Woodlands Park is the ideal choice for a legal graffiti wall. Located in the Gibson-Landsdale area and just north of Barton, the area is in rapid transition with boutique shops and trendy new businesses opening up in recent years, as well as galleries migrating from James Street and their own monthly Friday tradition, Barton First Fridays. The legal graffiti wall will be in good company, as the area is already dotted with notable murals and street art on buildings.
As this launch is a formal City of Hamilton event, there will be formal remarks onsite at 1:00pm. Artists will be at the wall all day showing off their skills from 9:00am until sunset.