Beauty of graffiti in eye of beholder at Amherst skate park

Dave Mathieson
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George Baker is frustrated with graffiti at the Amherst Lions Skate Park. “I’m disappointed that some youth are coming up here trying to destroy a beautiful facility. I wish that whoever is doing it would stop before it ruins it for all youth in our community,” said Baker Sept. 20 at the Amherst Lions Skate Park.

AMHERST – Judging art is highly subjective. One person’s masterpiece is another person’s garbage. This holds true among skateboarders as well.

“Some stuff looks terrible, like that FTW over there, they can get rid of that, it just looks stupid.” said 15-year-old Gary Downey as he points to graffiti on the mini-bowl at the Amherst Lions Skate Park. “But the AAR on the other side (of the mini-bowl), they should keep that.”

Richard Quigley, who was skating at the park last night with Downey, said the graffiti doesn’t bother him, and said it doesn’t bother most skateboarders.

“It’s the culture of skateboarding,” said Quigley. “Every skate park has graffiti.”

Quigley said they have their own skate crew called Dirty Amherst Kids.

“We put DAK on the park and they took it away,” said Quigley.

The graffiti tags are taken away by town employees by painting patches over the graffiti.

“There was graffiti on there about two or three weeks ago,” said Amherst Town Councilor George Baker last night at the skate park as he looked upon new graffiti. “When I noticed it I contacted the town and they came out and removed it.”

Quigley said the patches painted by the town look worse than the original graffiti, and Downey agrees.

“Painting over the words with a patch looks terrible,” he said as he points to a blue patch at the top of the parks largest ramp.

It doesn’t matter if the graffiti says DAK, FTW, AAR or is a marijuana leaf, Baker said the town has a zero-tolerance policy for graffiti and will patch it over it.

“This council is committed to not letting graffiti destroy a beautiful skateboard park,” said Baker. “It’s a skateboard park that is recognized across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as one of the nicest parks, and that’s the way we want to keep it.”

Baker said the youth should take their artistic ambitions elsewhere.

“A lot of money went into this from government and from the Lions Club, and I don’t think any level of government or the Lions Club would like the skateboard park defaced by graffiti,” said Baker. “If kids want to do graffiti they can do in their own setting on paper, not on hard-earned tax-payers money. We have this property for youth to enjoy, and to improve the town.”

Asked if he thinks youth need a forum where they can gather to express their graffiti skills, Baker said, “Halifax tried that and it didn’t work.”

"They had an old school and they were having trouble with graffiti in the neighborhood, so they let them paint on the old school,” said Baker. “It was great, until the school was completely painted, and then they were back doing the exact same thing in the neighborhood.”

“Once you allow kids to buy paint and allow them to paint one wall, you’re going to have nothing but the whole town to spray, because some kids don’t know when to stop.”

Baker said they will continue to patch any graffiti painted in the park.

“If you remove it the minute it gets there it will not come back, but if you leave it in one area it will grow and grow and grow,” he said. “I’m disappointed that some youth are coming up here trying to destroy a beautiful facility. I wish that whoever is doing it would stop before it ruins it for all youth in our community.”

Graffiti is against the law, and Baker said they will likely have to install cameras to monitor the facility.

Asked what they think of cameras being installed, Quigley and Downey shrugged their shoulders.

“It doesn’t really bother us,” said Downey.

More pictures of the skate park grafitti can be seen on the slide show at

Organizations: Lions Club, Amherst Town

Geographic location: Amherst, Amherst Lions Skate Park, Nova Scotia New Brunswick

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Recent comments

  • Robert
    September 21, 2012 - 11:16

    It's a skate park. So long as the graffiti is done properly (not offensive or hateful) I don't see a problem with it. It has been going on since the dawn of time. People paint on walls. So long as it's done properly (and in a place where it can be permitted) there's nothing wrong with it. Ever watch Rick Mercer Report? His "Rant" is done in a place called "Graffiti Alley" in Toronto. It's a place that is pained white every year and people are permitted to come and tag it as they wish. There are some darn impressive works of art in that place. At the beginning of the new year, workers come in, photograph it all for future generations to enjoy and then paint over it for a new year of artists to cover. i don't see why something like that can't be permitted here. Let the kids have a "legal" outlet to do such things instead of them tagging private property. We can record it and paint over it once a year.

    • mike
      September 21, 2012 - 12:20

      Excellent point Robert and that was the point I made earlier. If we ran a contest, the kids would be very proud of their work and I would almost bet that they would police the tagging themselves. So much more to worry about , let them paint, who really cares. Beats covering the buildings that trains, and visitors, drive by every day. And for the record, there are some amazingly talented kids, who skate, who would produce some great "Art". Move with the times. Let them have some fun in at least on spot in Amherst.

    • amherstonianforlife
      September 25, 2012 - 16:21

      Good idea Robert. I think this town needs to focus on alot more programs for youth and teens. Yes there are sports but not every kid likes sports or has the money to join. I think we need a drop in center for youths and teens like the project echo of my day. One other thing we need to work on is getting these youth and teens out in the community and working with the rest of the citizens on various projects. Adults in are too quick to judge all. teens as "trouble". If we in Amherst learn to embrace our youth and make them part of the community we will see many long term benefits. For any adults out there getting their undergarments in a bunch over this subject........ think back to the day when u were that age and put yourself in the shoes of todays teens.

  • Mr. Chow
    September 21, 2012 - 11:10

    Oh and " Ever wonder why so few young people stay around Amherst after high school?" it is because there is no work here. "Just another way that the "Parents" of this town can resume control over the young people. " I am a parent and I just want them to be safe. I am not looking to control anyone, but there is rules for everyone and people ALL people need to follow.

    • Ty
      September 21, 2012 - 13:10

      OH and I was not attacking you. It is just important to think out side of the box sometimes. Safety should be our number one concern when referring to children. However, if you don't give children the opportunity to learn about life when they are young, it might end up a heck of a lot worse when they are out of your hands.

  • Mr. Chow
    September 21, 2012 - 11:07

    To TY: First I am not being rude about it so do not come across to be being rude. You know what TY there is no one supervising these kids at the skate park. So what about the drug issue that is going on up there. You know YEARS ago the town had a out door pool and other things for kids to do at dicky park. Then that was taken out and all of the stuff for kids to do up there. Why was the park not put up at dicky park. They have the walking trail there for adults to watch the kids. You know what TY no I do not have all the ideas. But you know what if you are an adult with childeren do something with them. Get them into sports (hockey, baseball) anything that you as a parent do with them. It really seems that the skate park is for parents to dump there kids off. So you know what TY know I do not have the right answer. But you know what parents need to step up and do stuff with there kids. Again I might not have all the answers but again do more with your childeren and you know what maybe that is the answer. Its just kinda funny TY you seem to be attacking me but again there are other things to do in this town the skate board.

    • Ty
      September 21, 2012 - 13:04

      Maybe I was rude, but proposing a locked 12 foot high fence surrounding our skate park constitutes an out outrageous suggestion that should be addressed. What I was stressing is that rather than looking for a positive in this situation, you immediately focused on the negative...happens a lot on this blog. It is difficult to be a contributing member of a community that is not forward thinking. Instead of looking at the positives you suggested turning the skate park into a reverse prison. Look at Roberts post...if you provide a positive option for a young person most of them will take it, not all of them; there are just unpleasant people in the world. If you just keep playing the punishment card, kids will continue to rebel. So instead of tagging a skate park, which is not abnormal, they will tag town hall, the banks, and the YMCA. What I am saying is, clearly, the ways we have been treating these issues are obsolete. Why not be progressive and try something new that has positive connotations and not negative. As for the drugs...unfortunately they happen everywhere. I agree that drugs in a public place like that are bad, but they are going to happen anywhere anyway. Lets provide the young people with alternatives, instead of locking them out and making them turn to the streets...again. Lastly, I am an adult, and not all kids like Hockey, Football, or Baseball...Some like to paint, skate, or act. Do I have children yet, no. But I was a child in a town that did not have that many alternative options for youth.

  • Former Amherstonian
    September 21, 2012 - 10:59

    Its a skate park ... not a museum. Who cares if its marked up. There was never a place for teenagers to go when I was growing up. Its being used .. what more do you want. People in the town of Amherst have nothing better to do then to complain about simple things. Maybe people should worry about the road conditions and how bad the downtown core looks. I return to Amherst once a year to visit family and the place looks worse and worse each year. I brought a friend home with me this past June and I was embarrassed at how junky the drive into Amherst was (by Frenchys) and how ugly those new green stands are in the park. Is a skate park really the priority when there are bigger fish to fry?

  • Ty
    September 21, 2012 - 09:13

    Perhaps the town needs to "get with the times." I personally do not find the Amherst Murals that attractive. I understand why they are there, and respect that. It is good to remember and recognize our history and accomplishments. Also it is great to honor the work of an amazing local artist. But what about the current, or future generations? The town has a "No Graffiti" policy? Maybe "the town" should concern themselves with more pressing issues. If this was a matter of safety I might be able to get on board; This is an older council who may or may not be stubborn about less then relevant issues. I get that foul language and other obscenities should be removed, but have any town council members been to another skate park? What did they look like? Maybe if the town saw this as an opportunity to work with young people who have a unique artistic ability this could be a positive things for the town...instead, it has to be a negative? Just another way that the "Parents" of this town can resume control over the young people. Ever wonder why so few young people stay around Amherst after high school?

  • Mr. Chow
    September 21, 2012 - 08:57

    I always thought that the skate park was a bad idea. To Mike having a grafitti contest is not the answer. Look at the old Tracks building and all the garbage that was on that. Young kids that go up there should not have to see it. Also since there is not anyone (adults) up there what about the drug issue up there. Its funny you can stand up there and take a picture for elections coming up. But unless you do something about this, the article is just a photo up for the election. Here is a idea if these people will not respect the skate park put a fence up (12+ feet). Lock it when there is issues like this and if there is people going in there when it is locked. Hmmmm then charge them with trespassing, still think this was a waste of money.

    • Ty
      September 21, 2012 - 10:41

      I bet you do think it is a waste of money, what do you think the kids in this town should be doing? Enlighten us. This has been problem no one seems to be able to resolve but it sounds like you have the answer...

  • Tim Cook
    September 21, 2012 - 08:21

    I don't really care about the graffitti but as a member of the Amherst Fire Dept it would be greatly appreciated if they could stop lighting the plastic garbage can on fire and melting it to the ground. The really sad part is there are alot of younger kids that are scared to go up there because of some of the older teenagers that hang around there

  • Rick Harper
    September 21, 2012 - 07:56

    Total agreement that this park needs to be kept clean and any paintings should be in good taste. Graffiti is usually committed by someone expressing one's feelings at that specific moment. Maybe a little effort into understanding the thinking and reasoning behind the actions could result in remediation instead of confrontation. I would much rather see SAFETY being discussed such as all kids wearing helmets, knee and elbow pads. Safety First.

  • mike
    September 21, 2012 - 07:13

    I say have a Grafitti contest. Get it over with. Supply the paint and let the skaters decorate the park. It is their's . Grafitti has been, and always will be, a part of the skater's culture. I think that the town should focus on other important things. I live on a side street off of West Victoria and beat the sh*t out of my car every time I drive home. Might be nice to worry about getting it paved instead of focusing on covering up a few tags. Of right, I live in the west end so it really doesn't matter does it ??? And by the way, nice to see the beautiful new side walks on EAST Victoria !!!!!!! Maybe you can send the cement that was ripped up to me in the West

  • amherstonianforlife
    September 21, 2012 - 00:26

    I have to agree that the graffitti doesn't have a place on the skate park. I also agree with the youth interviewed that said the patching looks worse. I wonder if the town staff that painted over the graffitti happened to be color blind because the skate park is grey like concrete and it looks like they covered it with the paint they use to mark the blue lines on the ice.......... Maybe the town youth advisory comittee can help organize skate clubs that would be allowed to paint a group logo on a plywood wall that could be built behind the park. In the mean time maybe those who are painting graffitti would be nice enough to stop and maybe the town would be nice enough to get some grey paint !