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Reader: Graffiti on Ponti Is Vandalism, Not Art
Kenzie Bruce

Reader: Graffiti on Ponti Is Vandalism, Not Art

On January 10, the Denver Art Museum held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the $150 million three-year project that will renovate the circa 1971 building created by Gio Ponti. But as donors and other luminaries gathered on one side of the landmark, an "idiot" had left his "idiotic" mark. Michael Paglia's story on the graffiti inspired a heated conversation on the meaning of graffiti, museums...and art in general. Says Adrianna:

 'Idiotic' and 'idiot' — don't you have a wider vocabulary as a journalist and art scholar? The earliest recorded art came from painting on cave walls, from tagging safe areas, places to hunt and find shelter. Graffiti has been around since the dawn of man and will definitely live longer than we will. Do some research on graffiti and the history before dogging this.

I actually give props to this person, on such a regulated and high volume area and they still got up?! And the size of it? And next to a police station. That's ballsy!

I do not agree that it was right to do on such a historic building - but you shook up the system and that's something to be proud of. Too many people are squares and compliant.

Responds Lolly: 

The DAM Ponti building is a work of art in itself. A decent graffiti artist would use their skills to beautify a bland space, not to destroy the art of those who came before him/her. Vandalism, not an art. Punks with paints. Not cool.

Hollie replies: 

Looks like the rest of the building needs color. It seems so blah, but then the art on the side really makes it pop! Why not get the graffiti artists of Colorado to come together to finish the building and really make it something special and unique to our city?

Adds Clifford: 

Art museums are good as far as they preserve historical art, but they also help preserve the bourgeois idea that because certain art is in a museum or gallery, it is worth something. Art museums are just as guilty as Sotheby's for turning art into commodity and pumping up consumerism. Getting art into a museum is akin to getting signed with a major record label. Museums have helped make monsters like Koons and Herst, to name a couple.

On the other hand, there is a great side to museums, and I am not discrediting the value of having a place where I can go and view great work any time I want. If the graffiti artist was grinding against capitalism and art as commodity, I commend their brave efforts; if not, then fuck them.

Concludes Eric: 

People who bomb are looking for attention or gaining recognition. Westword has certainly given this person that spotlight. Well done.

Keep reading for more of our coverage of the Ponti project:

Reader: Graffiti on Ponti Is Vandalism, Not Art (4)
Denver Art Museum

"Some Idiot Vandalized the Denver Art Museum's Ponti Building"

Reader: Graffiti on Ponti Is Vandalism, Not Art (5)
Jeff Wells/Denver Art Museum

"Groundbreaking Ceremony Marks Start of DAM's $150 Million Ponti Project"

Reader: Graffiti on Ponti Is Vandalism, Not Art (3)
Denver Art Museum

"Denver Art Museum Building for the Future With Then, Now, Next"

Reader: Graffiti on Ponti Is Vandalism, Not Art (2)
Courtesy Curtis Fentress and Machado Silvetti

"Denver Art Museum's Gio Ponti Building Closing for a Facelift"

The groundbreaking followed several years of preparation and planning: The Ponti tower closed three months ago in preparation and was emptied of its contents.

The brutalist-style building sits on the south side of the Civic Center on West 14th Avenue Parkway, right across Acoma Plaza from the Denver Public Library, itself an architectural wonder. Though the Ponti has been well maintained since it was built in 1971, the intervening decades have taken their toll. The silvery tile cladding that the graffiti artist targeted is in desperate need of restoration, and the exterior lighting system, meant to highlight the dimensional patterns on the overlapping planar facades, hasn’t worked for years. But the goal of this $150 million project isn’t just to give the Ponti a facelift, but also to create a visual (though not literal) connection between it and the freestanding Hamilton Building across West 13th Avenue. The solution is the creation of a new, built-from-the-ground-up pavilion to replace the fragment of an earlier rendition of the museum that’s attached to the Ponti.

While the Ponti is closed, the Denver Art Museum has expanded its hours; the Hamilton is now open Mondays, too. The Hamilton is currently housing Then, Now, Next: Evolution of an Architectural Icon, a show that details the history of the Ponti, which is open through February 24.

Looks like at least one "idiotic" viewer has already left his opinion of that icon. What do you think of the graffiti on the Ponti? Post a comment or email editorial@westword.com.

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