Public art by Romero Britto, the artist most identified with Miami around the world, is a frequent and easy target for graffiti bombers. His “Beach Ball” in Miami Shores, a sculpture sporting Britto’s trademark bright colors and pop-art patterns, got the treatment last June when some blunt vandal scrawled the words “Not Art” across it with red spray paint. Then, in July of 2011, someone — maybe the same someone — tagged the same sculpture with the words “Meaningless Bliss” and “error”.
The latest: This past Saturday, the day of Second Saturdays Art Walk, someone who apparently goes by the name “C Dog” tagged Britto’s new Wynwood space, at 146 N.W. 25th Street, in huge white letters (photo via Yo Miami).
Update: This photo by @305creative (shared via Instagram) shows that Britto (or an assistant or two) painted over C Dog’s scrawl with a burst of color, sunny imagery, and a bit of advice: “Make Art Not War”.
As is usual when anything Britto gets vandalized, some people are applauding the vandal (“Thats what he gets for covering the murals that were done during Basel”) while others, including some Britto crtics, are condemning the illegal expression of contempt for an artist who many consider a paint-by-numbers hack, an opportunist, and/or an ersatz ambassador of Miami creativity.
Where many find agreement is that this was bound to happen, that it was “only a matter of time” before Britto’s Wynwood location got “bombed”. In a neighborhood that is home to many art galleries and many street murals, many of them commissioned works, a few questions arise:
Is uncommissioned graffiti an appropriate expression of criticism against an artist just because lots of people feel an aversion toward him and his work? Is uncommissioned graffiti — i.e., illegal graffiti — appropriate period? Is “legal graffiti” an oxymoron and, if so, does Britto’s flower-studded wall deserve to be vandalized more than any of the commissioned murals in Wynwood, which are offensive to some old-school graffiti artists who feel their beloved art form has been co-opted by property owners looking to cash in on the “urban aesthetic”?
Yes, these questions have the stench of the rhetorical, but you can dispel it by leaving a response or introducing new questions in the comment section.