Last post - and a mural

No - not for good, just hopefully the last on this annoying Mr. X.

I'd posted before on this person. I'd also sent him an email assuring him our aim is not to support vandalism, and asking him to meet face to face. I also pointed out I'd been copying in here his emails to various customers - forwarded to me by them for comment, as well as forwarded to each other. And added I've also included my responses and those of support from many others of what we are trying to do with our program. I also asked him to meet with me to discuss further.

His response was to worry about me publishing private emails - these were not one-on-one communications, these were emails he had sent to dozens of people, who in turn forwarded them to many others.  He referred me to the website of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Not sure why, as it has a caution about email that he doesn't seem to have read himself:

Most of us have strong expectations of privacy when sending email, but the reality is that sending an email message is like sending a postcard. |t is not technically difficult for a copy to be made in transmission. And once you send an email, you have lost control over it and its contents. In this world of electronic networks and instantaneous communications, your “personal” message can be forwarded to a public forum for the entire world see with the click of a mouse.

He does ask that I express his views in my own words, rather than quoting him directly - and accurately. You'd think he'd prefer the latter. Maybe he's worried I might repeat his specific accusations against named individuals and open him to accusations of slander. He did question my ethics - a strange accusation considering the slanderous contents of his emails and his underhanded approach of contacting almost everyone in Ottawa except me and Keepsix. He doesn't realize that the real issue is not whether his emails - sent to dozens, are in fact private communications. The real issue is that he has slandered not just our group Keepsix but also the names and reputations of these young artists, and likely hindered their business prospects. Some of them are considering legal action, based on what they have seen in his emails that others have forwarded to them - I don't blame them. People often consider youth as powerless and an easy target - not a nice attitude and not accurate. They can fight back - as was shown last year when a Toronto photographer tried to take advantage of some young graffiti artists. See my post Graffiti and Copyright.

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Artists or vandals

We (Keepsix) have done a number of murals so far: Richmond Road Hydro last fall, then this year Jack Purcell Pool, Photolux Studio in Manotick, Hillary's Drycleaners on Bank, Genest Pool in Vanier (St. Cecile). We're also planning murals on a cube van for Sodexo, a long (200 ft) retaining wall on St. Joseph Blvd in Orleans, and the buildings in behind Bouchey's on Elgin St.

Feedback from customers, politicians, and the public has been very positive. And from the artists of course - they appreciate the opportunity to get their art up, to develop their skills, and to make money at it.

Positive except for an isolated few, such as one I'll call Mr X, since his posts are typical of a small group that criticizes our work. This person that has complained about several of our murals - not directly to Keepsix though. He instead sneaks in to target the customer, BIA's, councilors, to try to discourage them from hiring us. His main complaint is that we are hiring known current vandals, and we support vandalism. He pretends to support our process, but criticizes our approach. He's even complained about the planned St. Joseph blvd mural, his most verbose and far reaching to date. He's refining his spiel, just not his facts. He did miss a few of our murals, maybe he'll catch up.

We do support mural art, and are using it as a way to provide talented youth with an opportunity, a new direction, a way to be part of a community building process that includes them as well as residents and local businesses. Some of the artists have tagged in the past, some may not have completely "kicked" the habit yet, but we still are optimistic about the program and believe in these youth.

I had been summarizing below some complaints that customers have forwarded to me for comment, as well as our responses back to customer questions, and supportive messages from the community. It's become so long a post that I'll just leave Mr. X here, and move the positive responses to here. His accusations may be verbose but are not particularly well written or unique, but are typical of a small group that criticize our work. There are a few that send similar emails to us, or - in a few brave cases - actually show up to complain in person. On occasion they talk and modify their opinions, sometimes they choose to differ. Some are even slanderous, but closing them down would take time and money. Usually their own demonstrations of inflexibility and avoidance of facts is their own undoing. I would rather focus on the positive changes our group is doing.

I'd removed the actual names that he claims are active taggers, since they don't need to be further maligned here, and he presents no formal proof. I also took out his photo links to other's photos of alleged current tags, they don't prove much as there is no easy way to date the tag itself as being last week or last year. It's a long post, but given his repeated complaints I thought I'd be proactive and capture all that has been said so far on this -especially the positive things.  As you'll see he is repetitive - maybe he needs a web site to link people to, to simplify things. Maybe I'll send this link to new customers, just to get this out of the way so we can focus on helping youth and improving the community.

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Keepsix Collective - murals 'r us

As my fans know, I've long been a promoter of graffiti murals - street art - as a tool to clean up and beautify an area, prevent repeat tagging, reduce costs of fines and repeated priming, and involve youth and residents in improving their neighbourhood together.

I've been working at this in Toronto with Community CAVE for a couple years, and with Const. Scott Mills there, and basically on my own here in Ottawa. Recently I've hooked up here with the Keepsix Collective  - a group that will connect up street artists with residents and businesses. Mike G. runs it as part of his Keepsix site, has the artist connections, and has worked on commercial projects. I bring business skills, customer liaison, and experience on similar projects. And I can work both with the customers and the young artists to ensure a smooth project. Our service will add continuity and some business structure and documentation, while still focusing on the young artists and delivering a quick but quality response. 

Our first project was a 75 x 9 foot wall along the pool at the Jack Purcell Community Centre. Quick response, good cooperation, beautiful mural, and a happy customer. I'll post separately.

Here's what's on the Keepsix Collective site:

The Keepsix Collective is a service that connects residents and businesses with artists. We specialize in providing local street artists with a legal opportunity to beautify the city space around them. We are a volunteer run service with a team of experienced yet reasonably priced artists that are here to help curb the costs incurred by the new graffiti by law. Their murals are a colourful mix of artistic styles and scenes, designed along with the customer and conforming to local bylaws.

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