By Terrah Baker
Graffiti plagues many large cites with bad language, scenes and reminders of violence with signatures of gang members and their turf. Well, Corporal Daniel Montgomery — the Fayetteville police officer in charge of removing graffiti — said Fayetteville has a similar problem, and now they’re using organized art as their tool to take back Fayetteville’s walls, electric boxes and bridges.
“I think [graffiti’s] been a constant problem. If you drive around town you see it. It’s something we try and get off as soon as it gets painted on,” Montgomery said.
He deals with graffiti on public places, while it’s up to private businesses to clean off the graffiti found on their walls. He defines graffiti as anything that’s not authorized, whether it’s a girl flying a kite and pleasing to the eye, or inappropriate language and gang symbols. Of course, they work quickly to get some off more than others.
The problem with graffiti is that it looks messy and can send the wrong impression about a clean-cut and safe town like Fayetteville, said Fayetteville in Bloom Director Cindi Cope. They’ve become involved because their mission is keeping Fayetteville looking neat, tidy and appealing to the eye.
“The tagging typically is not artwork, it’s just something that looks ugly. Once in awhile along the railroad track they will use obscene words, so that’s not art,” said Cope. “If it’s something that’s done in a nice manner than it would be more of a mural.”
Now, Fayetteville in Bloom is giving the Fayetteville Police Department $1,000 to start their mission of putting murals throughout Fayetteville in order to curb the onslaught of graffiti. The idea is that artists respect other artists and don’t tag where a mural already exists.
“Believe it or not a lot of taggers have a code of honor and they leave each other’s art work alone. The idea is to get something nice there where people won’t tag it,” Montgomery said.
They’ll be recruiting artists over the next few months to put murals of nature, recycling and other scenes that show Fayetteville’s values, up on public street light control boxes, a few walls and bridges. He’ll be working with the high school to revamp their 10- to 15-year-old mural on West Street, and with places like Lewis Plaza where big blank walls get tagged regularly.
If someone is interested in doing artwork for the city, with supplies provided but as of now with no compensation for time spent, they’ll have a chance to make their mark. The artist will meet with Montgomery, discuss what they’re looking for and submit a rough draft. Montgomery will take that to the Keep Fayetteville Beautiful Board — the Fayetteville government organization in charge of implementing the program — where they will vote whether or not to accept the artwork.
Montgomery was turned down for a grant that would’ve provided payment to artists, so is now accepting donations for that purpose. Contact Montgomery to become an applying artist or to make a donation at firstname.lastname@example.org.