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With local media devoting so much ink to the on-going "war" between tagger gangs in Westside neighborhoods (read the

Denver Post

's latest take

here

), it might come as a surprise to many Denverites that graffiti culture can actually have a positive influence on many youngsters -- because it can steer kids toward creativity and away from neighborhood beefs.

To see how, just head over to the Chicano Humanities & Arts Council, better known as CHAC, at 772 Santa Fe Drive on Friday, February 23. From 5-9 p.m., the gallery will host "First Draft: From Canvas to Crayons," an event that will showcase works from some of Denver's hottest graffiti masters, including Jher, Jolt, Voice, Crims, Koze, Elk, Emit and Nime.

All the pieces will be auctioned with proceeds going to the Bridge Project, which runs an art education program for students, ages 4 to 11, at the nearby South Lincoln and Westwood housing projects. Artwork produced by the kids will also be for sale.

"All they have right now is, like, a stack of construction paper and colored pencils," says Silas Green, a member of Guerilla Garden, the graffiti crew organizing the show. "All the money will go to help introduce these kids to art, music, anything to get their minds running."

Art is about the last thing so-called "tagbangers" are interested in. Let's have the big boys of local graf show them how it's really done. -- Jared Jacang Maher

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