Fri, Jun 27, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Graffiti gripes follow art festival in Taipei

‘GHOSTLY’ GRUMBLES:Worried parents called the city government saying that their kids saw a ghost-faced thriller in a mural that features the wife of an organizer

By Kuo An-chia and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

This mural on the Xingfu Building in Taipei’s Ximending District, photographed on June 17, sparked worries from concerned parents.

Photo: Kuo An-chia, Taipei Times

Graffiti in Taipei’s Ximending District (西門町) as part of the international graffiti art project “Pow! Wow! Taiwan” sparked complaints from parents who said their children may be scared by the artwork.

The project, which began in 2011, was organized by Jasper Wong, who took charge of promoting graffiti writing in Hawaii, while Larry Chen (陳正浩) headed the promotion of the art project in Taiwan.

Wong, a Hawaiian, invited 40 artists to paint 12 walls in the Kaka’ako Native Hawaiian community in Honolulu in 2011. Last year, he invited more than 100 artists to paint more than 60 walls in the community.

The event in Taiwan launched earlier this month, with 40 global artists and 20 domestic graffiti writers, including BOBO, DEBE, and Candy Bird to create paintings and murals near Taipei Municipal Datong High School, the Dajia Riverside Park and the Taipei Zoo.

Chen said he had a difficult time finding endorsements and spaces willing to display such works, adding that most local businesses declined.

Only the Hai Pa Wang Group was willing to endorse the art project, and offered their newly purchased Ximending property as a canvas, Chen said.

Making the massive mural took an entire week, Chen said.

However, a number of concerned parents have called the Taipei City Government, saying that their kids felt that the mural — which depicts the face of a woman with her hair streaming behind her — portrayed a ghost, Chen said.

Wong said he did not quite know what to think when the city government told him about the complaint, since the model featured in the painting is his wife.

Wong’s wife even appeared before the building and told some children there about the concept and idea behind the creation of the mural, in an attempt to assuage their fears, Chen said.

Chen said the project had met with opposition in Hawaii when it first launched, but as graffiti culture already existed on both the east and west coasts of the US, residents rapidly came to value this form of graffiti as public art, instead of seeing it as the random defacing of buildings.

The difference in cultural perceptions in Taiwan has led to some difficulty in promoting the international project, Chen said, adding that there were more regulations to navigate when the project’s management team attempted to legally apply for places to paint.

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