Grand junction residents are shedding some positive light on something often portrayed as wholly negative. Today was the fifth annual Mural Jam, put on by the City of Grand Junction and Super
Rad Art Jam. The event aims to promote art and provide a sense of community at the skate park.
The all-day event featured a skate competition in the morning and artists painting the skate park in the afternoon. Organizers say the event hopes to encourage graffiti where it’s legal, and deter it where it’s not.
“It gives kids a place to come and paint so it doesn’t end up on public signs and private walls and everything else,” says Tyler Malnerich, Super Rad Art Jam Board Member. “Art is always a form of expression. Having a place to do it instead of having to go buy a canvas or build a canvas or destroy the side of a train, is having a place that you can just come and do it and no one will mess with you.”
More than a dozen artists participated. For them, it’s much more than painting; it’s a freedom of expression.
"Without it, everything gets all balled up in me so I have to paint or do something to breathe," says Denver-based street artist “Rocco.”
For Colorado Mesa University graduate Rainbow Byson, it’s about the comradery.
“I’m an artist. Ive worked in the studio. I’ve had academic training. But coming out here and working in this environment and the people you meet is what it’s about,” Byson says. “Just like all mediums, it takes some technical mastery to get to. There’s different styles brushes tips different things you can use just like in the studios.”
However, when graffiti is done in certain public places or on other’s private property, its illegal. For law enforcement, enforcing punishment for it stems from, what they call, the” broken window theory.”
"It's the idea that if law enforcement overlooks or doesn't address a small problem that's criminal, it can be perceived that they won't address bigger problems,” says Heather Benjamin, Public Information Officer for Mesa County Sheriff’s Department. “That's not the reality that we live in but the idea is there that if they overlook this, they'll overlook that and the scale goes from there."
Benjamin says anyone caught doing graffiti illegally can face either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of what they are painting.