Eric Ulrich is a 30-year-old Republican city councilman representing District 32, which includes conservative parts of Queens like Ozone Park, Howard Beach and Breezy Point. A big part of his political career has been washing graffiti off the streets of his district. On Monday, he announced that he will be allocating an additional $10,000 this year — on top of the $25,000 he allocated last August — to the Queens Economic Development Corporation, which will be used primarily to pay a private company to clean graffiti, the Queens Courier reports.
“Graffiti is not art, it’s an eyesore that impacts property values and adversely affects our quality of life,” said Ulrich. “This allocation will strengthen efforts to remove graffiti from our neighborhoods and revitalize local small businesses corridors.”
Allocating funds to clean up graffiti is fine. The intent of graffiti is not to lower property value or hurt anyone’s quality of life (although, historically, the act of writing graffiti was a reaction to poor quality of life). But Ulrich is incorrect to assert that graffiti is not art; the culture has changed since graffiti was viewed as another urban blight. New York City arts institutions like the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, and even the MoMA have recognized graffiti’s significance, and their opinion of art counts for more than Councilman Ulrich’s. Street art is disappearing in Queens, and this is just another cut.
For a guy who grew up in New York City in the ’90s, Eric Ulrich sure is square.
(Photo: Wally Gobetz)