In Highland Park and urban communities like it, debate often rages about unauthorized street art.
Many surfaces around the neighborhood are used as canvases for graffiti artists--notably the low cement walls around the public parking lot on Ave. 57 and the small building in the lot on Ave. 56 across from .
To some, these artists are doing a community service by occupying the space with something aesthetically pleasing, rather than leaving it a blank canvas for tagging crews. To others, street art is vandalism, pure and simple, regardless of how talented the "vandal" is.
But what about those completely legal, city approved billboards all across Highland Park that deal in the currency of sex, violence and, well ... sexual violence? We are referring to a pair of billboards--those American Apparel ads featuring barely clothed co-eds and those advertising Duke Nukem and his smoking gun.
The Duke Nukem ads feature the game's main character loading a smoking hand-gun, with the words "THIS GUN'S NOT GONNA @%&$ ITSELF." An obvioulsy reference to a coerced sex act. One can be found at Monte Vista St. and Ave. 50, an area with a long history of gang violence.
These billboards appear on private property with the permission of either business or home owners. Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch know that they have that right, and we support it. But we're concerned about the aesthetic blight these billboards cause--they are just plain ugly or, in the case of the American Apparel ads, painfully cliched. We also feel they send the wrong message, not only to our community, but about our community.
How do you feel? We don't support the idea of litigating this problem away, but we would ask community business and home owners to maybe think twice when offered a check to give up their storefront or lawn for ad space. We know that's a tough decision to make, especially in these hard economic times, but we think it's the right one.
How do you feel about these ads? Weigh in on our Facebook poll.