One year after President Nixon first declared war on drugs, NYC Mayor John Lindsay declared war on graffiti. The city spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to suppress graffiti and arrest its artists, and ironically, the public responded by spending hundreds of millions more on artwork from graffiti outlaws like Basquiat. Instead of fighting the art scene the New York Post still calls a “cancer,” New York should’ve found a mutually beneficial way for the artists to express themselves while at the same time beautifying the city. That’s an idea one modern artist is championing today.
Ruben Rojas is a Los Angeles-based street artist and co-founder of Beautify Earth. The organization works together with artists and local officials to transform parts of the cities into outdoor galleries. As part of the program, murals have already gone up in several major U.S. cities and in Mexico and Haiti, but Rojas is currently focused on setting an example in Santa Monica, California.
“What we’re doing in Santa Monica is really trying to create a case study of a city that is blite free,” Rojas explains. “We’re starting to ignite change.”