City Program Exposes Positives Of 'Urban Art'

In most places around the city of San Diego, graffiti would be considered vandalism.

But at Writerz Blok, it is business as usual.

Every inch of the 13,000-square-foot property owned by Writerz Blok is a canvas for graffiti artists. The building is a shock to visitors expecting one big eyesore.

"When they come here, they're just blown away by what they see. They usually expect to see stuff like that throughout the whole yard and yeah, you'll get it because that's part of it. But they start realizing that there's more to graffiti than just scribbling your name," said Jose Venegas of Writerz Blok.

Venegas started at Writerz Blok as a volunteer. He credits Writerz Blok for keeping him in line at a crucial time.

"I was out there; I was exposed to the street. It kept me out of trouble and I've learned how to screen print here," said Venegas.

Venegas is the director of production for the Writerz Blok silkscreen business. The program also offers training in graphic design, muralism and even club DJ skills.

"We're artists. We can paint, but we can also print T-shirts and sell T-shirts and we can sell our art. We can promote graffiti as a positive art form instead of the stereotype that is usually out there," said Sergio Gonzalez, director of finance for the program.

Gonzalez was a former volunteer and said Writerz Blok has been a blessing for him, one he wants to share with others.

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