TJ Carabeo, Some Other Solutions’ (SOS) Manager of Youth and Child Programs and the SOS Team are helping local artists express themselves with the SOS ”Fear No Art” initiative featuring the organization’s sponsored free wall for graffiti and urban artists to tag, draw and create on a legal canvas.
Graffiti removal maintenance can cost taxpayers in Fort McMurray a hefty sum and as per the city’s bylaws, property owners, in addition to apprehended taggers, can face fines for not removing what the city determines to be “unsightly or dilapidated” artistry.
Thanks to the relatively low costs for erecting the wall, as well as, the low maintenance costs; the free wall offers a cost effective alternative to managing graffiti in a positive way. Located at 9908 Manning Avenue, the wall has been touched by the art of many Fort McMurray locals, all taking advantage of the opportunity to showcase their anonymous artwork to the public.
The wall was first established for graffiti art on July 8, 2014, after Carabeo and his team noticed a lot of graffiti in the downtown Fort McMurray area. Carabeo’s creative problem-solving led him to the idea of a free wall created as a sanctuary for youth wishing to further their artistic passions. SOS believed the free wall would give artists a visual voice while helping to reduce illegal tagging in the community.
“Have a set of unwritten rules artists understand… an artist’s graffiti tag can be covered with a new artist, but mural pieces are not to be covered over.”
Free walls, Carabeo says, “Have a set of unwritten rules artists understand… an artist’s graffiti tag can be covered with a new artist, but mural pieces are not to be covered over.”
The City of Fort McMurray has used this same principle to beautify the city and lessen the occurrence of graffiti on private and public buildings through commissioning artists to paint murals on large surfaces prone to graffiti.
Since 2012 through the Graffiti Abatement Mural Program, the city has commissioned three large murals with a fourth in the bidding stage for a 43 metre concrete wall located in Lions Park.
Often graffiti is unfairly stereotyped as a delinquent and illegal activity but, Carabeo argues that graffiti is an outlet for expression and allows young artists to grow their creative talents, when done legally. Carabeo, who has a passion for graffiti art, collaborated with partners and community artists to bring the free wall to the community as respite for local tagging artists.
The Boreal Artist Institute, the city of Fort McMurray, and local building company sponsors assisted Carabeo and SOS in bringing the “Fear No Art” project to life. Visual artist Ruth Perry has supported the wall since its inception and will be speaking in support of the wall with a visual presentation, at its relaunch on August 14 at 2 p.m.
Carabeo hopes viewers of the wall keep an open mind and allow the artwork to invoke thought provoking conversations in viewers and their peers.