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Illegal Art

[whitespace] Graffiti takes over SFMOMA online

By Michelle Goldberg

A few months ago, Josh Drapiwski, the Webmaster behind the local graffiti site HiFi Art, was searching online for information about an exhibit at the SFMOMA. He typed in www.sfmoma.com but found there was no such site (the museum's url is sfmoma.org). So Drapiwski bought the address, and now Web surfers looking for the lowdown on contemporary art in San Francisco are getting something edgier and funkier than they bargained for: dozens of pictures of local murals, tags and sketches, all done illegally, some charged with kinetic energy and meticulous detail. Drapiwski had been running the site for several months before he got the sfmoma.com url, but with the new address, his traffic has nearly tripled, from 40 or 50 hits a day to almost 150.

Drapiwski, 18, hopes that by luring people to his site via the sfmoma address, he'll open people's minds about the artistic value of graffiti. "I don't consider it hijacking," he says. "I'm basically trying to put my foot in the door for graffiti artists and trying to forcefully open up people's eyes to see this art, and if it takes people unknowingly coming to my site ..."

He continues, "People hate graffiti. I'm standing up and saying they can hate defacing their property, they can hate writing on schools and buses. But to not appreciate graffiti within subways or murals that take skill, money, time and chance of being arrested, I don't know how you can't appreciate that. Graffiti artists are doing more than any other artists to get known and get their work out. It's the most modern art. People spending eight hours a day on a mural, putting their souls into their art and into what they're trying to express to the world, and then to have it painted over the next day, you can't get more modern than that." SFMOMA's response? "No comment," a PR rep said.

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From the July 27-Aug. 9, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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