Can A Simple Piece Of Graffiti Bring A Dam Down?

Matilija Dam Graffiti
Photo by Mel Melcon

Matilija Dam Graffiti

The above photos are from a cool piece of graffiti done on a dam near Ojai recently. They’ve been floating around online and, as you can see, is a really simple statement: a pair of scissors in the middle of a dotted line, placed atop of a dam suggesting cutting the dam open.

This seems simply clever and funny as if it was just a visual item to be a visual item but, as the Los Angeles Times reports, the piece is much more than a witty graphic but a statement on an obsolete dam that has somewhat plagued the area for some time. Here’s what they had to say about the situation:

    Matilija Dam was built in 1947 for flood control and water storage. But officials say it was flawed from the outset. For decades, it’s been holding back silt as much as water, depriving beaches 17 miles downstream of the sand they need to replenish themselves. It’s also been deemed a huge obstacle for steelhead trout, an endangered species that was once a trophy fish luring anglers from across the country.

    Officials say they don’t know who painted the shears, and they’re careful to note that such acts — even in the name of art — are illegal and dangerous. The dam is challenging enough that rescue squads use it for climbing practice, pounding in metal anchors that may have aided the scissors hands.

    But even if the painting is no more legal than garden-variety graffiti, some say it speaks to the takedown’s glacial pace.

    “We’ve studied this to death and talked about it forever,” said Paul Jenkin of the Matilija Coalition, an alliance of community groups pushing for the dam’s removal. “There’s very strong support from the community, and that’s part of what we’re seeing with the graffiti.”

I’m definitely intrigued to see what happens with this and, although unlikely that the art will be the drop that breaks the damn, it really has brought a small, local issue out for the world to see. If anything has been accomplished by the anonymous artist, it is that they have turned a dormant issue into a nascent cause.

Read the rest of the story here.


September 21, 2011 / By