The broken windows theory was developed by James Wilson and George Kelling, and implemented by William Bratton, NYC Transit chieftain, and is now gospel of every neighborhood cop. Fix the broken window and the building won’t become derelict. In Portland, with dozens of derelict buildings in the inner SE core, neighbors have proscribed to one tenet – whitewash graffiti instantly. And they do.

But what happens when artwork is catagorized as crime and is whitewashed?

I asked a handy 8 year old: Can art be a crime? No. No. What about if you draw on someone’s house? Is that a crime? Yes. Yes. What if the drawing is art – is it still a crime. No. Art can’t be a crime. Why not? Because it’s art. Not unusual to get a tautology from an 8 year old. Disappointing to get them from adults.

Thus Portland’s dilemma, juvenilia within the context of civic cause. I don’t get it and I don’t like it and I don’t approve of it, but that means nothing because it’s not about me. It’s graffiti. Is it art? Can be. Is it junk? Can be.

Travis Wallender, aka BORE, was arrested in Portland 1999 for selling LSD – which lead to a man’s death, and arrested again in Portland 2001 for vandalism. And that’s just Portland, and just the arrests which made the papers. Though he grew up in Gresham, this cat carried paint where he went and he went just about everywhere.

Vandalism – caught good in 2001.

Died in 2004 – I don’t know how. But his memorial, on a kids clothing shop, remains clean and tidy – untagged by anyone. This, I imagine, bodes great respect.

Celebrated by his cronies, his graffiti history was long and prosperous.

New American Casuals – the clothing shop – out of business? Hard to tell – here’s their gallery of wall work. You can see there have been many versions of these walls.

Behind the NAC building, and below in what looks like a former basement.

Detail – nice work. Do you think they sneak here and pull out the Iwata?

Portland street artwork is captured and collected at citynoise.org.

UPDATE 2007 – this mural has been painted over.

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