The first major museum exhibition of graffiti opened this week in Los Angeles to large crowds. While the curators on the inside are calling it art, some folks on the outside see it as something else entirely.
CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reports that even neighbors of the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles - where the graffiti exhibition is being held - have issues with glorifying graffiti artists.
Gary Culotti runs the Porta Bella Design furniture making business in Los Angeles. His custom designs are taking a back seat to the graffiti plastered all over his walls, signs and dumpster.
"It's not art. It may in fact be art, but they should not be putting it on other people's buildings," Culotti said.
For shopkeepers and residents overwhelmed by taggers - another name for graffiti artists - trying to make their mark, graffiti has become a dirty word. The Museum of Contemporary Art is trying to change that perception. Their new exhibit traces the history of graffiti over the past four decades. It features works by 50 of the most influential street artists, including Britain's elusive Banksy and the legendary Basquiat.
"Part of our goal at this exhibition was to kind of maybe steer young graffiti artists away from doing illegal work and possibly getting more excited about the fact that they could possibly have a real career in this," said Aaron Rose, an associate curator for the graffiti art exhibit.
Los Angeles police claim the show is doing just the opposite. They say it's actually causing a rise in graffiti and vandalism in neighborhoods surrounding the museum - the handywork of taggers trying to steal the spotlight. One international street artist who goes by the name "Space Invader" has been putting up these tiled images on nearby buildings.
Officials at the museum say reports of vandalism have been overblown. They say most people drawn to this exhibit are not taggers, they're just regular folks curious about this art.
Laura Fanning was one of those curious people, and she came here with her two daughters, and left with a new view of graffiti.
"I just saw it more as vandalism. Now I see it more as a commentary and a way of expressing oneself," Fanning said.
Gary Culotti, however, has a message for anyone who thinks graffiti is art.
"If somebody feels it's art and they want it in their house, they should have it in their house. I don't need it on my building. I don't want it on my building," Culotti said.
Some now think graffiti s so good it belongs on museum walls