Track 4: This New World: Preservation technology and emerging issues within our historic buildings and built landscapes

General Abstract

3 - Art or Awful: The Preservation and Conservation of Graffiti

Wednesday, September 26
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: HYATT-Regency

Twenty-one graffiti artists were recently awarded $6.7-million in damages after the owner of the building known as 5Pointz white-washed over hundreds of murals before the site could be designated as a landmark. Graffiti is done for many reasons, including self-expression, boredom, or disrespect. But when does graffiti go from an act of vandalism to be immediately removed, to an artful expression which should be saved and shared? Graffiti has a long and proud history dating back to Ancient Egypt, Greece, and the Roman Empire. The oldest graffiti at Pompeii is a simple “Gaius was here,” or, more precisely, “Gaius Pumidis Dilphilus was here,” dated October 3, 78 B.C. It is a classic that stands the test of time, as anyone familiar with Kilroy knows.

Graffiti comes in many different forms: from carving in stone, spray paint on a brick wall, marker on a marble statue, pencil on walls, etching on glass, to stickers on everything. Although graffiti has become an accepted art form, there is still a wide chasm between work exhibited in a museum and work done without the permission of the property owner. The National Park Service has two documents related to the removal of graffiti: Keeping it Clean and “Preservation Brief 38: Removing Graffiti from Masonry,” both dating to 1995. But information and guidelines on the preservation of graffiti is scarce. Papers have been presented on the conservation of murals and graffiti-style street art, but what about graffiti that was created just as an act of defacement?

What makes some graffiti worth saving while other requires swift removal? It is easy to be fascinated by graffiti left by a Rear Admiral of the British Navy on the Temple of Dendur in 1817, and less so by the spray-painted tag found on your garage. Although many factors go into the decision to remove or preserve graffiti, some of the most important are age, context, and the familiarity of the artist.

Graffiti exists in our public spaces, our communities, and our streets. It can be thoughtful, crude, political, humorous, simple, artistic, territorial, offensive, creative, or a combination of these. Can conservators work together to create guidelines and standards for the preservation and conservation of graffiti? Or is it like many issues of conservation where the answer is “It depends?”

Jablonski Building Conservation, Inc. has worked on several graffiti-related projects including the preservation of pencil graffiti on wallpaper in a museum, protection and conservation treatments to a spray-painted graffiti mural in a previously industrial neighborhood, and the removal of offensive graffiti from the side of a church. This presentation will discuss how each of these projects required us to stop and think about the consequences of removal versus preservation.

Learning Objectives:

Stephanie M. Hoagland

Jablonski Building Conservation, Inc.

Stephanie M. Hoagland is a Principal and Architectural Conservator with Jablonski Building Conservation Inc. where she’s been employed since 2003. She has a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from Columbia University. Ms. Hoagland has worked on a variety of conservation projects throughout the United States and Canada including finishes investigations, conditions assessments, and hands-on conservation treatments. She is a member of several preservation professional groups including APT and the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works of which she is a Professional Associate and past Chair of the Architectural Specialty Group.


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Lonnie Hovey

Lonnie Hovey, AIA, FAPT is an award-winning architect with over 30 years of experience on preservation, restoration, and rehabilitation projects across the country for many federal, state, municipal, and city clients. Federal clients include the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Architect of the Capitol, Army Corps of Engineers, Department of the Navy, Executive Office of the President, and General Services Administration. Projects include banks, churches, courthouses, cultural landscapes, libraries, master plans, monuments, museums, private and federal office buildings, pump houses, and university buildings. He served as the federal preservation officer and Director of Preservation for the Executive Office of the President overseeing projects in the 22 buildings used by the Executive Branch, the biggest project being the modernization of the EEOB.

Lonnie is an Associate and Sr. Preservation Architect with Whitman, Requardt & Associates, LLP (WRA). Founded in 1915, WRA is headquarted in Baltimore, Maryland, with 19 regional offices. Lonnie works out of WRA's Philadelphia office.

Lonnie is an active APT member having joined in 1988. Service includes national and regional involvement with symposia, training programs, and annual conferences. Service also includes positions on the APT Board of Directors, and the Chapters, Outreach, Student Scholarship, and Training & Education Committees. Inducted into APT's College of Fellows (COF) in 2007, he is currently involved with the APT and COF Archives, the APT Legacy Program, and writes the 'From the Archives' column for Communiqué.


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3 - Art or Awful: The Preservation and Conservation of Graffiti

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