In Inman Park not even graffiti is safe from graffiti

Not even graffiti artists are immune from graffiti.

A community-backed mural on DeKalb Avenue in East Atlanta displaying graffiti from a trio of artists was marked up earlier this week by a local graffiti artist known as "Vomet." The colorful mural, the result of a grassroots conference on street art, now has the local artist's tag over two of the panels. And many nearby residents, long used to seeing graffit pop up in their midst overnight, are upset by this incident.

Though Atlanta's attitude toward graffiti can vary from disgust to acceptance to "depends upon what and where," some are upset that Vomet (his real identity is unknown) would paint over the work of graffiti writers Swampy, Gaia and Atlanta artist Greg Mike.

"He did it because apparently the wall had had tags that he had done before," said Monica Campana, one of the organizers of  the recent the “Living Walls” conference -- a grassroots meeting on street art and urbanism. "Graffiti is like a sport, it’s very territorial, and he wanted to claim his wall back."

The large tag, “Vomet” is scrawled over Oakland, Calif.-based Swampy’s trademark skull and crystals. On the next panel, New York-based artist Gaia got hit with Vomet’s tag as well, along with a mark, “Kaos, Inc.”

"I talked to Swampy, and I talked to Gaia. We’re going to leave it," Campana said. "We did a beautiful mural. It's very self explanatory what he (Vomet) did."

That particular wall, however, is the side of Studio 900, a former auto-parts warehouse that was turned into studio workspace for artists. Campana said she spent the summer looking for walls where the "Living Walls" artists would be able to paint once they got to Atlanta, and the owner of Studio 900 easily offered his.

While Campana said she shied away from using other walls that were covered with graffiti artists tags, she figured this wall would be fine because it had been buffed.

"I knew in some places I'd be stepping on someone else's territory, but on this one, I never thought it would be an issue," she said.

Campana helped organize a group of 50 local, national and international artists who recently met in Atlanta to talk about street art and show off their work.  Besides this mural on the 900 block of DeKalb Avenue in Inman Park, other graffiti writers painted up walls in Cabbagetown, Oakhurst and Castleberry Hill.

Across the gravel parking lot of the DeKalb Avenue mural is the Inman Park Animal Hospital, which had its brick building treated with paint repellent specifically to aid with removing the work of taggers, employee Ben Taylor said.

Taylor routinely patrols the property looking for graffiti and paints over it regardless of whether it resembles art or not.

“To me, it’s not art, it’s vandalism,” he said, pointing to a Dumpster spraypainted in brick red and black letters.

“Every time they hit it, I repaint it,” he said. “Every time you want to come out here and graffiti it, I’ll repaint it.”