Graffiti Lou web.mp3
9:34PM Mar 21, 2019
Jonese Franklin (announcer)
Ryan Van Velzer
"Soare the Bird"
From Louisville public media. Support for Curious Louisville comes from Lakshmi Farms, which believes in building community and expanding minds through progressive ideas, education and growing soil right here in Anchorage, Kentucky.
When you're driving down the expressway, maybe that's what you're doing right now. Your eyes might wander up to the backs of the signs in the other lane going the opposite direction. And in Louisville, a lot of those signs are covered in graffiti. Joe Sullivan noticed, and he thought, if someone doesn't clean that up, it's just going to encourage more people that do the same. So he asked Curious Louisville, who's cleaning up the backs of those signs? WFPL's Ryan Van Velzer went looking for the answer. Here's Joe, our question asker.
Every morning when I come into work, no matter which route I go, I started to see more and more graffiti on the back of the signs and, well I just wondered who was in charge of dealing with the graffiti on the back of the signs.
The answer is... nobody. Nobody cleans off the graffiti off the back of these signs. Yeah.
We don't do removal of the graffiti on the interstate sign for a few reasons.
So I think I called the city. The city told me to call the state. Of course I talked to the Transportation Cabinet there, and the Transportation Cabinet in turn sent me back to the city, or rather or the person who's in charge of this area for the state, and that is Andrea Clifford.
So many of these signs are located high on overhead trusses and they're difficult to reach. We would have to close interstate lines to reach them, you know that's going to be an inconvenience to the traveling public.
It sort of gives the impression that you know, we're not taking care of things. You know, we clean up, do a lot of cleanup, especially every May when people - April and May when people come in for for Thunder and for Derby, but then you've got this sort of ugly...
It is unsightly and and we don't like having it up there either, but our maintenance budget goes for items such as snow removal, pothole patching, bridge deck repairs... so we have a lot of things to take care of that directly impact the motorist.
Most of it is usually just these obscure letters...
Oh yeah, it's s-o-a-r-e, it says Soare. Soare the Bird.
So we tracked down a couple of graffiti artists who do illegal tagging on the back of a street signs to see what they had to say about it, and why they did it.
For me the reason I paint highway signs, and the reason i climb off of things like that is definitely like 100% rooted in like the idea of adrenaline junkie type, you know what I mean? I really appreciate any sort of moment that allows me to really feel in my body. We spend so much time like in our head space that you realize, for me, at least, I've got to be put in like these drastic situations to remember like, oh, I'm here left foot, right foot. Like yeah, I mean, it gives you this weird mysterious feeling when you go somewhere in the city where no one else ever goes, and you're the only one there and you're the only one seeing that view. Like nobody sees the skyline from highway signs. Literally nobody.
I was curious if they needed like technical equipment to get up on the street sign.
Oh no. Highway signs have all the gear provided for you. They, like, build those things like a ladder. It's like, if you can climb a jungle gym, you can climb a highway sign. It's the nervousness that will get you.
I asked them, you know, well, what do you think about people who you know, consider what you do as a blight on the city?
So, so there,
So, so their... their opinion of me.
I think you should be working on your own art.
You know, I can relate to that. I mean, I think you know, that's probably true of more young people than old people because you get hardened, and you lose your artistic skills. I've got very artistic children. So, I was when I was a kid, but it's all been worked out to me through the years.
Yeah, I feel like yeah, there was something like, inspiring about the way that he was that, yeah, that's not condoning his behavior but it was a little bit, a little bit inspiring.
I think you can find the middle ground in between.
The question for this edition of Curious Louisville came from Joe Sullivan. Reporting was done by Ryan Van Velzer. And it was produced by me, Laura Ellis. Don't forget you can ask a question of your own at curiouslouisville.org