____ is to _____ as _____ is to _______

One of Pittsburgh’s best known and most prolific graffiti taggers admitted in court yesterday to vandalizing several dozen properties throughout the city. But before lawyers had hammered out the details of Daniel J. Montano’s weeklong guilty plea, others in the street art community apparently stepped in to take his place.

Residents said the word “forgive” had been spray-painted this week on three buildings in Lawrenceville, one of several neighborhoods the defendant previously targeted. They said they learned the tags were meant to voice support for Mr. Montano.

Two quick things:

1. Calling graffiti-spraying vandals “the street art community” is like labeling a group of thieves a “wealth redistribution consortium.”

That’s the Post-Gazette putting a pretty name on an ugly thing.

2. Spray-painting the word “forgive” on another person’s property in support of your friend, a graffiti-spraying vandal, is the same as if your friend killed the neighbor’s dog and to show your support, you go and kidnap the neighbor’s OTHER dog, kill it, and etch the word forgive on the dog’s belly.

You “street-art community” criminals are seriously some of the dumbest most selfish pieces of property-destroying trash that ever graced the streets of this beautiful city.

That’s me putting an ugly name on an ugly thing.


  1. Gunn Lino
    May 19, 2008 1:58 pm


  2. John
    May 19, 2008 2:06 pm

    Amen, PG… Amen!

  3. windy city steel city
    May 19, 2008 2:09 pm

    Maybe it was Elton John and The Truth. We haven’t heard from them in awhile. Sounds like something they’d do. And it is still fun to bash them as well.

  4. windy city steel city
    May 19, 2008 2:12 pm

    oh btw by this logic, we could call gangs “local youth collectives” to increase their “target markets”

  5. Great Guy
    May 19, 2008 2:17 pm

    Well said.

  6. LCJS
    May 19, 2008 2:20 pm

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    “wealth redistribution consortium.” – LOL

  7. Matt
    May 19, 2008 2:25 pm

    Agreed, these graffiti-spraying vandals shouldn’t be labeled in “the street art community” because they are just tagging for the sake of showing off to their friends, but there are some really talented graffiti artists out there. People may see a form of vandalism, but when I see beautiful graffiti on an abandoned building I see a piece of art enhancing an eye-sore.

  8. BobM
    May 19, 2008 2:39 pm

    …or describing pigeons as “cute little birdies”

  9. Brian
    May 19, 2008 2:44 pm

    I’d like to hear PittGirl weigh in on the following article.


    Is writing “wash me” on a dirty car graffiti?

    Is writing an offensive message with your finger on the mirror at your friend’s house that will only show up when they take a hot shower classified as graffiti?

  10. pittgirl
    May 19, 2008 3:08 pm


    If you don’t own it and you’re not invited to do it, then it’s graffiti. Don’t touch or alter what’s not yours or what you weren’t invited to touch or alter.

    It’s very simple.

  11. JP
    May 19, 2008 3:16 pm

    @ Brian I would not touch somebody’s private property, becuase maybe the owner wants it to be sooty or dirty, but what those guys were doing on that overpass was kind of cool. Anyway is sends a messege to public works to wash stuff once and a while.

  12. Brian
    May 19, 2008 3:38 pm

    Who really owns the side of an overpass? If the graffiti artist pay taxes, don’t they own part of the public property?

    What makes them so different from this celebrated artist who does three dimensional chalk outlines?


  13. lolo
    May 19, 2008 3:44 pm

    chalk = water soluable

    That’s what makes it so different.

  14. JP
    May 19, 2008 3:46 pm

    @ Brian sorry I still think it is crappy when they deface public property w/paint or other indelible stuff, but drawing in the soot is kind of cool in my opinion. Problem with that is, rarely is graffiti interesting art(like on the website). Usually it is unreadable gang tags or huge genitalia or other stupid $hit so I guess its a losing proposition anyway you look at it

  15. unsatisfied
    May 19, 2008 3:50 pm

    Brian — I’m almost willing to bet my left nut that there isn’t a graffiti artist in existence who pays taxes.

    and, btw — following your logic, I also own part of that overpass, whichever one you are referencing — and I DON’T want graffiti on it. whenever I drive over the birmingham or 10th street bridges, it pisses me off seeing that shit on there.

    I’d say more to you about your posts here, but I’m afraid that my head might explode.

  16. Pittsburgh Tom (in NJ)
    May 19, 2008 4:19 pm

    The way I see it, graffiti is all about permission and not about the quality of the art.
    If Leonardo Da Vinci was alive today and painted the Last Supper on the wall of a building where he did not have permission of the owner, then it would be graffiti. You could call it art (I probably would), but it also would be graffiti.
    On the other hand, I take a can of spray paint and draw squiggly lines on a building that I own, then it’s not graffiti. (And considering my talent, it’d barely be art.)

    Chalk on the sidewalk is technically graffiti. I seem to recall occasionally hearing of it being charged as graffiti, but usually those are cases where the chalk bore messages of a nature that someone didn’t approve of. Generally, it’s not worth charging people with something when the “damage” won’t last the next rain.

    As for the reverse-graffiti, I think I’d put it in the same category as chalk drawings. It’s graffiti, but as long as it’s not offensive, it shouldn’t be prosecuted. It would be interesting, though, to see what would happen if someone tried to get the police to press charges for having “Clean me” written in the dirt on their car.

  17. Brian
    May 19, 2008 4:52 pm

    I’m not advocating graffiti or trying to be a pain, I was just questioning what disturbed people about graffiti. If I bought a building downtown and covered it with graffiti, is that okay? Some complain about the video billboards Lamar was trying to put up around the city, but the Trib has that annoying red thing on the North Shore that annoys the heck out of me.

    I could cause more trouble and start the what is the definition of offensive but I think I’m over raising trouble on the internet today.

    Note: Brian is not a graffiti artist, although he finds it funny that the Wikipedia entry on graffiti states “This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards.”

  18. Still A Fan
    May 19, 2008 5:39 pm

    in either freakonomics or the tipping point – they describe how NYC combatted grafitti on the subway cars. once that problem was solved, the “artists” moved on to scratchitti on train cars and buses. if they had enough money to own their own cars – can you imagine how pissed they’d be if somebody did that to their property? or what if the police catch you in the act and instead of fining you they go to your house (or trailer) and spray paint “loser lives here” on the side?

  19. Different Brian
    May 19, 2008 5:39 pm

    With the street art community, I’m all for some degree of eye for an eye punishment. We find something they own, and tag it. This could be a city position… Mayor Opie could promote one of his boys to the position and give them a take-home vehicle. In the event they don’t actually OWN anything of value, which is more likely, hmmm…

    I remember an SNL video (I think it was SNL) from many years ago when the mayor of NYC created a new initiative to deter tagging by spray painting the words “is gay” on top of every tag. Insensitivity aside, I got a laugh out of it. That may make me a hate monger, but, meh. I’m okay with it.

  20. Brian
    May 19, 2008 6:03 pm

    Here is that sketch with Ruddy Giuliani. Possibly a PittGirl PSA is in order.


  21. Monty
    May 19, 2008 6:51 pm

    Brian — If you take that bet Unsatisfied offered, you could (presumably) end up with two left nuts. That could come in handy. On the downside, you’d have to rename one of them.

  22. Poofy Puff Puff
    May 19, 2008 8:38 pm

    PittGirl, that’s harsh.

    It’s OK to dislike graffiti, but you need to have a credible argument that takes into account stuff like this: http://www.banksy.co.uk/

  23. pittgirl
    May 19, 2008 8:50 pm


    Read what I wrote, “Street art community criminals” means criminals that are tagging places that they should not be tagging.

    Also, I don’t care how awesome one is at graffiti, if you paint it somewhere you don’t have permission to do it, i.e. on public property or on private property that you don’t own, don’t whine when you’re arrested for your “art.”

    How am I being “harsh” by calling these guys that tagged public property in Lawrenceville that which they are — criminals?

  24. xena
    May 19, 2008 9:23 pm

    Good answer, pittgirl. YWhen Poofy says “harsh,” he/she means “true” and “challenging my world view.”

  25. justretiredguy
    May 20, 2008 6:30 am

    Maybe “street artists” should perform their “art” on the property of their family and friends.

  26. Joe Stalin
    May 20, 2008 7:46 am

    Ve had solution for graffiti hooligans in former glorious Soviet workers paradise; spray-paint on barbed vire in gulag make other prisoners; I mean; rezidents wey happy. But since painters have fingers chopped off and spry cans in short supply; they must use mouth and spit paint out “old skool” vay.

  27. Lawrence
    May 20, 2008 9:27 am

    I think re-labelling the vandals with a happier term is definitely typical PG ….. but

    The true street artists don’t have anywhere to go. Unless you are talking about an inner-city gallery (when they exist), most galleries won’t let “those people” as they call them display in their galleries, and you have very few places like SouthSide Works who may use street artists in a higher end setting so they can get exposure (I’m actually the guy that recruits artists for the Exposed event – so I understand getting some of these guys into nicer spots so they can make a go of their art is hard).

    The city doesn’t really provide anything for them either … some cities are now doing street art parks …. they put up walls where they can tag, paint, etc anything as long as it’s not offensive nor gang related. A few galleries have actually bought sections of the walls because the kids produced such good art.

    So yes – vandals are still vandals – but what do you tell a really good true street artist that doesn’t get a chance or noticed at all because he or she is not in the right “class of folks”?

    In the end – the vandals need to be jailed or corrected, and the street artists need to be given a chance.

    BTW … this is just insight, not a gripe to PittGirl’s gripe as I fully agree with her, but want others to see all sides of the story.

  28. John
    May 20, 2008 9:51 am

    Grafitti is vandalism and against the law. That’s enough for me to want these “street artists” stopped. They are criminals. Period.

  29. Lawrence
    May 20, 2008 10:03 am

    John … true, not arguing your issue, … but at some point people have to have to guts to actually find a solution to the problem (or at least help find a solution) …. not just complain.

    Remember hacking is against the law too ….. and THOSE people ended up producing most of your better security software because some software developers decided to use their talents instead of just complain about the problem.

    Same situation …. different industry.

  30. Eileen
    May 20, 2008 11:44 am

    So typical. It is not “up to” the city to find places for these criminals to scribble.
    I have a great idea. Since you take such an interest,let them come over to your house and “scribble” their so called art. That way,that will keep them “working” for a while. Then, after that, maybe they can do a few of your neighbors places. Yeah, I bet they would love that.

    If they spent at least a portion of the time they scribble to look for jobs, they wouldn’t have time for all this crap.

    I just thought of another thing, maybe they can paint their parents houses also.I bet they would be thrilled to show off their kids talents.

    There’s some solutions for you.

  31. Mitch Cumstein
    May 20, 2008 11:55 am

    Lawrence, I have a theory that the true “street artist” doesn’t have anywhere to go because, by and large, people don’t want to see that.

    If people were clamoring to see “street art,” that fact would be recognized and galleries would be opening their doors wide, all in the name of drawing a crowd/making a buck.

  32. Pingback: Pittsburgh Graffiti Issues « Screaming Weasel

  33. LCJS
    May 20, 2008 12:13 pm

    What if you took a can of spray paint and used it over a big wall mural? There… blew your mind, didn’t I? :) It’s not art… graffiti defaces whatever the rightful owners wanted there. If these “artists” really want to be artists, then buy a canvas and paint there.

  34. Lawrence
    May 20, 2008 12:15 pm

    Mitch …. sounds like the same argument as …..

    People don’t listen to that House Music crap because only Rock is worth listening too ….

    but ……

    I have seen street art sell for over $100,000 for a piece in other cities ….. but that actually happening in this city is nil because we aren’t open minded enough or progressive enough.

    …… and I think quite a few people had the same opinion about Andy Warhol’s are quite a few years ago …… hmmmm

    But point taken ….. and another point given:

    Art doesn’t necessarily become art unless in the eyes of a particular collector. Same thing with antiques, etc, etc.

    In other words … I think gangsta rap is garbage, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra plays pieces of art … but I’m sure allot of people would argue against my thoughts on that because they like the previously mentioned style of music.

    Personal Opinion = Personal Choice

  35. Eileen
    May 20, 2008 12:58 pm

    No, its not about personal choices.
    People can listen to whatever music they want to. And think whatever is art that they want to.
    What the difference here is THEY DO NOT OWN THE CANVAS!!!!
    That’s like a song writer stealing a song because it wasn’t very good anyhow. So I’ll take it and do what I want with it.
    Again, if you want to scribble on a building, buy your own and knock yourself out!
    Or give them directions to your house.

    There’s a solution:
    Have a list of properties that owners are willing have these so called artists do their thing.
    Wonder how many takers they would get?

  36. Eileen
    May 20, 2008 1:00 pm

    And as for the $100,000 piece of junk.
    There’s a sucker born every minute.

  37. Mitch Cumstein
    May 20, 2008 4:39 pm

    Lawrence, I got the impression that your arguement was that Pittsburgh as a region wasn’t providing these artists/vandals with appropriate venues. So what, if we’re not giving them the venue and we’re too backwards here to appreciate the beautiful, progressive art that is graffiti, then we as a region deserve whatever we get?

    If house music led to the destruction of other people’s property, I could see your point.

  38. Lawrence
    May 20, 2008 5:44 pm

    Mitch … no, you are reading into it.

    Graffiti is an actual internationally recognized art form, tagging and vandalizing is not.

    You made the statement:

    Lawrence, I have a theory that the true “street artist” doesn’t have anywhere to go because, by and large, people don’t want to see that.

    If people were clamoring to see “street art,” that fact would be recognized and galleries would be opening their doors wide, all in the name of drawing a crowd/making a buck.

    When it is being seen allot of places other than Pittsburgh, and by a large number of people.

    So … three things:
    1. You implied that art was only about making money with the second part of your statement ….. not so. You produce art because you love it. You also implied that a true “street artist” is only one that vandalizes …. not true.
    2. I was making a point that Pittsburgh tends to resist change … no matter what it is or how many people have accepted it. This is why people outside of Pittsburgh still think we are “The Smoky City” and a “Steel Town”.
    3. I don’t support vandals, but I do support artists (whether I personally like their work or not). Which means if you vandalize someone’s property – not matter in what way, you should pay the price.

    Someone that vandalizes is not what I consider a graffiti artist …… a true graffiti artist does not vandalize.

    There are things that get venues in Pittsburgh that I definitely don’t agree with, but I won’t tell someone to not give them a venue.

    So …. was I implying that Pittsburgh needed to move forward – yes. Allot of people only come to Pittsburgh for an education, get tired of it, leave for somewhere more progressive, and what they acquired in Pittsburgh doesn’t benefit the city for the long run.

    For those that mistakenly think I support vandals …. in no way do I …. and in no way did I mean to imply “we deserve what we get”.

  39. coolmommy123
    May 20, 2008 10:36 pm

    Sorry…it’s late and I’m browsing comments before bed. I just can’t stand to see the word “allot.” You mean “a lot,” since “allot” means something completely different. It keeps popping up. It’s bugging me. Again, sorry. I need to sleep.

    PS- (Eileen: There’s a solution:
    Have a list of properties that owners are willing have these so called artists do their thing.
    Wonder how many takers they would get?)
    Good night.

  40. Lawrence
    May 21, 2008 5:42 am

    coolmommy123 ….

    You are correct … actually I should have said “many”

  41. Cara
    May 23, 2008 8:31 am

    I’ll add the side of my house to that list.

    And there are people inviting “street art” in the South Side – street art can be seen on MIB Ninja Entertainment and inside O’Leary’s Restaurant.

    It can be beautiful and interesting and complicated. It can be stupid sh*t and offensive. Yes, it should be prosecuted, but isn’t it cheaper to put up some walls than to track down, investigate, prosecute, trial, and incarcerate these kids? If we can reduce illegal graffiti as a city in a cheap way, shouldn’t we? How could graffiti make an abandoned building with broken windows and a sagging roof that should be torn down look any worse?? If a kid just wants an outlet, give it to him or her. If a kid just wants to break the law, throw the book at him or her.

    Thanks, Lawrence, for attempting to throw some balance into this witch hunt.

  42. mac
    May 30, 2008 3:44 am

    while i was reading over this trying to keep an open mind to both sides but this is what through me thru a loop…

    “What if you took a can of spray paint and used it over a big wall mural? There… blew your mind, didn’t I? :) It’s not art… graffiti defaces whatever the rightful owners wanted there. If these “artists” really want to be artists, then buy a canvas and paint there.”

    first point i would like to make is that most street artist do not mess with murals because it is someone else’s art on their own wall. just for the record http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08128/879613-294.stm read that do you consider this kid a street artist by using a more real deterrent’s than what cops arresting people and fining people will ever do. given yes itr is his building but it is still the same concept that business owners should take into mind.

    as for a more formal solution the city should re open the legal wall for those of you who dont know there used to be a legal wall right on the bike trail which is now considered illegal. they should change it back to being legal and moniter the kids who come in there and watch the names they use and the styles they paint.

    as for the comments about people buying a canvas WE DO notice that i say we i am a artist i dont go running around the city doing any illegal acts anymore but if the opportunity comes where i can paint a building legally i will. im sick of ranting goodnight