Graffiti and crime helps paint Art Alley in a negative light

Crime, graffiti and UN-cleanliness are some of the images business owners are painting of a popular alley.


Cranky Jeff’s bicycle shop sits just outside Art Alley on 6th Street in Rapid City. Owner Jeff Patterson says Art Alley has lost its, well, art.

“Over the last four years it seems like there’s a lot more tagging, a lot more graffiti,” said Patterson. “Initially there was a lot more art in Art Alley.”

Downtown artist and business owner James Van Nuys agrees.

” Occasionally a really talented artist will paint some beautiful thing in there but for every talented artist there’s 20 really un–talented people who just want to their names all over everything,” said Van Nuys.

Art in the downtown alley is also grabbing the attention of city council members. The Legal and Finance Committee voted Wednesday to consider issuing a task force to clean–up the alley’s negative image.

“We see people using the alley as a bathroom. We’ve seen potential drug deals, we see a lot of things out there,” said Patterson.

But a local artist says people who associate art alley with just negativity, isn’t exactly seeing a clear picture.

“There’s two separate issues, the art doesn’t cause the crime,” said Tyler Read.

Read, who worked at the Dahl Fine Arts Center, says Art Alley isn’t a haven for criminals or graffiti artists, it’s a place the community members can express themselves and their emotions through paint.

“People are used to looking at art in a framed space type of corridor and in art alley it’s not like that, you have to search for art,” said Read.

Local artists and other supporters plan to host a community meeting to discuss the future of the alley. The four-panel discussion, hosted by The Rapid City Arts Council is scheduled for February 27 at 5:30 p.m., at the Dahl Fine Arts Center.


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