Graffiti photo gallery

By Shengul Bajrami, 16, University HS
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Graffiti—some people say it’s just vandalism. People don’t think it’s an art form because of who’s holding the can, and because they think art is always good and pretty. But there is no doubt in my mind that the graffiti I saw at the parking lot at Avenue 57 and Figueroa in Highland Park is art. This "Drive-through Gallery" organized by Creative Art Solutions, a local arts non-profit, brought together graffiti artists from all over L.A. to create pieces and talk about their work. There was excitement in the air as all the artists hunched over their multi-colored boxes of spray paint cans, creating something beautiful out of nothing on the walls surrounding a parking lot.

"This gives artists a place to put up their work legally and more permanently … no profanity, no tags, just art," said John "Zender" Estrada, who helped organize the event.

It makes me mad when I see people judging graffiti artists as ruthless vandals, especially when I see everything they have to go through just to make their art seen. They told me about getting chased by cops and roughed up on the streets. It really sucks.

But the same guys that told me "Graffiti keeps me out of trouble and out of gangs" threw up a gang sign when I took their photo. And while we were there, one girl got in a fight with another, and the second girl’s boyfriend jumped in, while the other artists just watched. I found myself judging them —the critic I always hated. I mean, they see that kind of thing every day. If I respect their art, I have to accept the whole atmosphere. They’re not the usual, dramatic painter with a French accent and a fine arts degree. They’re not the kind of artists we’re used to seeing, so that tends to scare us and we start looking down on the work they do.

The graffiti artists all had pretty much the same idea about why they do it: they have something to say. That’s why it’s art—art is about communication. The experience was one that I won’t forget anytime soon, as the artists’ words still linger in my head. What seemed so profound to me was just an average day for them, just another day.

To learn more about Creative Art Solutions, see their Web site at