A young man called me last week, claiming responsibility for a mild kerfuffle in downtown Santa Cruz. A couple of weekends ago, he and his conspirators went downtown to run a kind of artistic tolerance experiment on Pacific Avenue. They handed out sidewalk chalk to passersby and encouraged them to do an impromptu kind of public art.
[photopress:street.jpg,full,alignright] So, for a brief while the sidewalks, streets and buildings of Santa Cruz were festooned with a temporary kind of graffiti. The man didn’t want to be identified, in case there was some kind of reprisal for his actions — is there a statute for handing out chalk? — but insisted everything was benign.
I walked down Pacific Avenue the next morning and saw only the smallest traces of the chalk art. But the whole episode brings up a pertinent question about Santa Cruz, which considers itself a haven for the creative: Are people doing chalk drawings on downtown streets creating valuable art, or defacing public property? Or, does it depend on what they’re drawing?