There’s a battle between residents and gallery owners in the Los Angeles neighborhood Boyle Heights. It’s somewhat widely known that the emergence of fine art galleries is a near guarantee that gentrification is occurring, but this article discusses how art spaces that have been in the neighborhood for years and years are also being targeted by anti-gentrification activists. It’s not a simplistic issue. White artists looking for cheap space often flock to poor neighborhoods in search of something more affordable, and this inevitably makes the neighborhoods more attractive to real-estate developers. Gentrification is such a complex issue. Artists need affordable real-estate in order to make art, and residents need affordable places to live. It’s difficult for these two needs to co-exist. I don’t have the answers to most of the questions this article poses. Nearly everyone I know who is my age (twenties to early thirties) is a gentrifier in some way. It seems the finger should be pointed everywhere.
What are the ethical considerations of stealing public, often transient art? This article follows “Tommy,” an obsessive street-art fan who steals public art for his own collection. While some could argue that taking the work isn’t considered stealing because the artist was aware of its transient nature when he or she posted the piece, I tend to argue in favor of the opposite. I think it’s impossible to enforce, but I think that if a person has respect for street art and what its placement implies, then the work should remain where the artist put it. Street art is often curated in a specific way; it is meant to represent a group or a neighborhood or to make a specific political or cultural point. The location of the work is part of the work itself. To remove the piece is tocommit a crime more devastating than stealing. It is to remove some of its significance.