San Antonio sends taggers to class to turn graffiti into artwork


by Brian New / KENS 5

Posted on June 23, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 23 at 4:15 PM

San Antonio’s latest attempt to curb graffiti has the city putting paint in the hands of convicted taggers. 

"If we can take their art work and turn it into something positive, that’s what we are looking for," said Jane Madrigal, an art professor for Our Lady of the Lake University.
The goal of Action for Art, the city’s pilot art class, is to show graffiti artists that their art can be done legally and for profit.
"This graffiti culture, this hip-hop culture, this artistic culture is very, very marketable," Madrigal told her class. Madrigal was asked by the city to teach the eight-week program.
Most of the 20 students in the pilot program signed up for the class, but a few were ordered to go.
"We do have some that are court-mandated to be in here," said Lisa McKenzie of the City of San Antonio.
Several of the students enrolled in the class were busted for tagging a west-side dam, which is why the class project is to paint a mural on the dam’s wall.
"So they will be fixing property that they destroyed," McKenzie said.
In theory, this program might seem like a good idea, but on the first day of class only one of the court-mandated students showed up.
The city points out there are still eight weeks left, plenty of time to turn taggers into artists.