Landmark River District graffiti space now off-limits

An announcement from the Asheville Police Department warns that a landmark community graffiti wall in the River District is now off-limits.

“APD wants the community to be aware that because the site is now posted against trespassing, graffiti, photo shoots, and other public uses of the property are now prohibited,” the announcement about the property, located at 1 Roberts St., reads. “This property had been the site of a ‘graffiti wall’ that was sanctioned by the owner.”

Over the years, the site has been a local landmark; a popular spot for select local taggers (with the occasional out of town guest) and a frequent location for film and photo works. A March, 2009 Xpress story showcased the variety of artwork on the site and told how developer Whit Rylee had opened the wall, along with nearby silos to a “small, self-regulated group of graffiti writers.”


Photo by Jonathan Welch

Rylee doesn’t deal with the property anymore, but has fond memories of the wall.

“Over the course of time it did attract a lot of people to the property, people in very nice cars; we’d see Lexuses pulling up all the time,” Rylee tells Xpress with a laugh. “Things change, it rans its course; the wall had its time and it was fun. Hopefully something else interesting will happen down there.”

So far, the current owners of the property can’t be reached for comment. However, plans to renovate the Hatchery building on the property to artists’ studios and a cafe have been submitted to the city of Asheville.


Photo by Jonathan Welch

— David Forbes, senior news reporter

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28 thoughts on “Landmark River District graffiti space now off-limits

  1. Gabriel Shaffer

    This progressive little arts city, is looking more and more like an upper income retirement community everyday.

  2. artist

    The police are just following the wishes of the new property owner, who placed the no trespassing signs. Why not retaliate against them instead of launching a hate campaign against the police?

  3. Why

    Why is anyone blaming the APD for the decision of a private property owner? Would you prefer they just hand out tickets without letting people know that the owner has decided to stop letting people use the space? Why be so godforsaken nasty and ignorant?

  4. toelover

    its the property owners, not the apd that made the decision. all the gentrification and sorts is solely a result of property owners being extremely square, welcome to asheville, coexist just as long as its organic, white and puts off some fake ass good vibes.
    I mean i’m down with F da police in general, but F most people nah mean

  5. Xina

    dpewen and Gabriel…shame on both of you. The APD is being quite nice by giving folks who may use this property a warning first. That’s much better than just showing up and writing ticket after ticket or even taking folks to jail without any warning. If this new property owner wants the graffiti to stop then that is their right! The police are following the wishes of the property owner AND the individual patrol officers are only doing what their supervisors are telling them to do. Promoting hatred of anyone,even the police, isn’t going to do anyone any good. Gabriel, I consider myself a fan of your art work and it really bums me out to hear you take this attitude.

  6. BigAl

    toelover, you are marshin my white, organic, fake ass mellow. Let’s meet at the meditation circle and make some good vibrations. Oohhmm..

  7. dpewen

    Xina, this is just another example of the APD acting like supreme jerks … they have removed benches, arrested and harrassed people for wearing backpacks downtown, plus much more. They must be watched and monitored.

  8. west asheville

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Riverstink isn’t behind this. They have the masterplan for the river arts district and it doesn’t matter what you think.

  9. It’s inevitable that cities “discover” their waterfront property. It has happened all over the country as water dependent factories, companies, etc.move on to other modes of transporting products. Artsy types take over abandoned meat packing buildings, empty warehouses are turned into trendy loft condos, new business move in to support the new tenants, city officials (smelling tax revenues) notice the change and begin pouring money into the area, and “voila”…gentrification. We’re just about 20 years behind it happening elsewhere.

  10. jen

    People are discovering that their real estate has value and they want to clean it up to sale. The river district rent for a studio will most likely increase in the coming months to years. Right now they ask 500.- for a tiny space..I cannot imagine what will happen if the area is cleaned up. Everything changes when people see money making opportunities. Sadly, in the process, most places lose their unique qualities.

  11. zen

    It was good while it lasted. Letting Graffiti artists play and practice there was a risk and they had to do cleanup many times there – Not all artsts left cans and caps, but enough did to make it a nuisance. Others brought nighttime drinking and parties and while i know a few took their trash home with them, a sense of complacency left too much broken glass and hazards about.

    I have documented over 500 photos from this site as the art evolved and here’s a slideshow if you’re interested: http://www.flickr.com/search/show/?q=graffiti+trackside&w=54289096@N00

  12. Piffy!

    [b]I wouldn’t be surprised if Riverstink isn’t behind this. They have the masterplan for the river arts district and it doesn’t matter what you think. [/b]

    Talk about entitled. Graffiti folks had an awesome, ‘legal’ spot for years, and now it’s time to move on. Stop pretending you are being oppressed. OR, conversely, go out and do something substantive that attracts [i]actual[/i] oppression if you really want to wear that badge. shooting spray paint out of a can onto concrete is not exactly feeding starving children somewhere.

    Asheville has been in the process of gentrifying for over ten years now. No one should be shocked, and some of you probably moved to Asheville to enjoy some of the fruits of said gentrification.

    If you REALLY want to live in a non-gentrified town were evil developers aren’t designing livable space, feel free to move to Old Fort or Gafney or Spartanburg and enjoy all kinds of old buildings to paint on.

  13. Truman

    Unless a levee is built to control the French Broad, then I can’t see any advantages to extensively developing the river bottom. Those floods have a tendency to scare away development.

  14. BigAl

    Toe Lover, “marshin” is correct, as in “marshin my…mellow”. Get it? “marsh”,”mellow”?

    Also “martian” as in Mars, God of War and carnivorous gentrification.

  15. Bjorn

    What’s next random searches on the street by TSA agents if you’re carrying art materials? Do you have to prove you’re an artist of busker with an ear or off to the FEMA camps? What if you’re having an off day, or an uninspired week?

    Speaking of Ears, it’s all been dismal since the closing of Vincent’s Ear & there was a mighty fine ear.

  16. Piffy!

    [b]What’s next random searches on the street by TSA agents if you’re carrying art materials?[/b]

    Yeah, that’s totally a logical conclusion. Poor graf artists. So oppressed.

  17. BigAl

    Hey, Bjorn, TSA says “drop the easel and get up against the wall!”

    Uninspired artists should be sent to a gulag for lack of revolutionary zeal.

  18. toe lover

    hey big Al, your intellect/humor doesn’t read well on teh interwebs, You shouldn’t have to explain yourself
    just trollin yo

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