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The spray paint peanut gallery

June 7, 2010 - Deb Gau
I like looking at weird signage — labels, warnings or directional markers that are unintentionally funny or surreal, or have faded into a message different than their original purpose. One of the things I've noticed living around Marshall for a few years is that in rural Minnesota, even the graffiti tends to be polite when you find it. You do run across stuff like obscenities or gang tags, but often they're outnumbered by messages like "(HOMETOWN SPORTS TEAM) FOREVER" or just plain "HI." Kid stuff, destructive but not really threatening or smart, and most importantly, easy to carve into a park bench or a wall.

That's part of the reason why I was taken aback by some graffiti I saw while driving through Granite Falls recently. I was driving past one of those red clothing drop boxes that was sitting along Highway 212. The red boxes are part of a (non-local) for profit venture that have been popping up in towns along most of the major highways in the region. Spray painted on the back of this one in large, loopy script, were the words "GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT."

The level of sarcasm in that piece of graffiti, probably directed at the decline of the small-town economy, struck me as being rather unsettlingly adult. Somebody out there is clearly unhappy, and has a good sense of visual communciation. It's just too bad they couldn't find a less destructive way to go about it.


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