Berkeley buildings vandalized after street art exhibition

Anna Vignet/Senior Staff
An large underground graffiti show was held September 8 between 6 p.m. and midnight in the old, long-abandoned Flint Ink building in West Berkeley. The three-story warehouse’s new owner, Alan Varela, and the street art blog Endless Canvas organized the event, which featured works by over 80 local graffiti artists and attracted thousands of people.

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Despite the promotion of graffiti as a form of art by Bay Area artists at a warehouse exhibition this weekend, some event-goers used the medium to deface local property.

Special Delivery, an exhibit that was organized by the local graffiti and street art group Endless Canvas, attracted thousands of art enthusiasts to the Carbon Warehouse at 1350 Fourth St. in Berkeley on Saturday. Though the event garnered much celebrated attention, several nearby businesses reported being tagged with various defacements the morning after.

Roberto Miguel, an organizer and DJ at the event, said the Endless Canvas artists are not responsible for the vandalism and the actual offenders — three kids who attended the event — are entirely independent from the organization.

“I personally have instant paint rollers to immediately clean up (the mess),” he said. “We have a lot of respect for the local community, and we don’t want to jeopardize venues.”

Berkeley Police Department Public Information Officer Jennifer Coats said, in an email, that the property vandals are still unknown and that the incident is under investigation. If the subjects are identified, and the owners wish to prosecute, the subjects could face jail time or a fine, she said.

“What annoys me is this was an organized group, but the neighbors weren’t warned,” said Kevin McCarthy, a local business owner whose building was spray-painted. “Had I been (there), I could have hung around the shop. (The event-goers) were not aggressive — they would have moved on.”

By 9:30 that night, crowds stretched around the block as several thousands gathered to view the showcase, he said.

McCarthy said as he was leaving the building that night, a man in a van parked in his driveway and began to relieve himself on the building — something preventable had McCarthy been watching over the premises.

Business owner Jared Brandt, whose building sign was damaged, said he was told to get a quote for the damages and call the vacant warehouse owner for reimbursement.

“The building is being painted as I speak,” he said.

The event showcased about 80 graffiti artists, who covered the walls of the dilapidated warehouse building with colorful murals. The execution cost $10,000 and months of planning and restoration, Miguel said.

“The entire show was a miracle, getting that many strangers together as a community and having a hundred artists collaborating on ladders,” he said.

Contact Virgie Hoban at [email protected].