Century 21 office creates graffiti wall

After a long and costly battle with vandalism, one Halifax business has decided to make good with the graffiti community and hopes to inspire a copycat effect across the city.

The owners of a Century 21 franchise in the north end, who have spent upwards of $10,000 replacing smashed windows and erasing graffiti, plan to launch a project this week to work with them, not against them.

David Yetman and Patrick Johnston have primed their office exterior at the corner of Windsor and North Streets by mounting two large plywood canvasses.

"Rather than putting vinyl siding up and making a really ugly building look uglier, we decided to get started," says co-owner David Yetman, who hopes commissioning graffiti artists will curb the vandalism of his building.

A contest launched last month calling artists to bid for a chance to have their work showcased on a busy street corner. Two artists made the cut this time, but Yetman and Johnston plan to host the contest annually.

Kicking off the project are Ben Swinden, a student at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and Shawn Boucher, an automotive collision repair specialist.

"This is a very exciting project," says Swinden, who has had a hand in similar projects in Toronto. "It does a lot for the community---accepting the art side of the community rather than the vandalism side."

Yetman and Johnston covered all their bases before launching the project, chatting with both the city and Century 21's head office. "I didn't want to get publicity from the stand point of doing something wrong," says Yetman.

"We opted not to go the corporate route," explaining why the art won't be a branding exercise for Century 21. "We're trying to send a message basically that this is art, and this should be viewed as art."

Yetman does not expect the project to generate any business, but "it's going to hopefully save us money having graffiti taken off and replacing windows."