Rifle PD following leads on Hickman tagging | PostIndependent.com

Rifle PD following leads on Hickman tagging

Ryan Hoffman
George Cutting, president of the Bookcliffs Arts Council in Rifle, says he is frustrated with the continued defacing of public and private building around town. Vandals defaced the Hickman Building on the Bookcliffs campus this past weekend.
Ryan Hoffman / Citizen Telegram |

Rifle Police Department are investigating potential leads on the tagging of the Bookcliffs Arts Center’s Hickman Building this past weekend.

An arrest has yet to be made, but the department is looking into leads on some suspects, Police Chief John Dyer said.

The illegal graffiti painted Saturday night was the third time in the past year the white, wood building, which dates back to the early 1900s, has been defaced with spray paint, an especially frustrating fact for George Cutting, president of the Bookcliffs Arts Center.

“It’s frustrating,” an animated Cutting said earlier this week of the large curse word on the north side of the building.

Even more frustrating, though, was the fact that there were four perfectly good portable toilets, as well as three traffic barriers where the vandals could have directed their attention. That is why they are there, Cutting explained.

Cutting and crew are inviting the community to come to the Bookcliffs Center, located at 1100 E. 16th St., on Friday, Oct. 23, to cover the portable toilets and traffic barriers in graffiti art — and they’re even providing the spray paint. Cutting is doing this for several reasons.

“The really big thing, and it’s part of what the (Bookcliffs Art Center) is doing, is bolstering the art in our community,” he said. “And we don’t want to replace what’s already there — we want to build on it.”

Make no mistake, though, at its core the event is about respect. Cutting hopes that by providing a creative outlet, some local graffiti artist will turn away from the destructive habit of tagging buildings and other property around town.

“It’s got to stop, and I’m really hoping that this will help stop it,” he said Monday afternoon at the Bookcliffs campus.

Tagging has been a problem around Rifle and, given the painting over of existing graffiti by other vandals, it appears to be several groups involved in a rivalry, Dyer said.

“It comes and goes in waves, but we have seen an up-tick in graffiti,” the chief added.

The tagging of the Hickman building, which according to Cutting quickly caught the eye of some nearby residents outraged about the profanity, has since been painted over. Its timing less than a week before Friday’s event is an inconvenient and unfortunate coincidence.

Friday is the second time in recent months that the Bookcliffs will host such an event. In August, the center invited the public to spray paint white traffic barriers at its Rifle campus. Dubbed the inaugural Street Art Competition, the event drew a smaller crowd than Cutting had hoped, but, he added, these things take time to build.

“I realize everything takes a little time to really happen, but I only see this growing,” he said.

After that first competition, Cutting had the idea of painting portable toilets as a way of providing additional “canvasses” while sprucing up the look of standard blue boxes. He’s partnering with a local company, which will provide a rotation of 25 portable toilets to be decorated. Cutting says he is also in talks with local organizations interested in murals and other potential projects, if they can find talented artists.

But as for Friday, Cutting said skill level is not a requirement.

“It’s open to anybody.”

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Rifle campus. Supplies are being donated by Mountain High Paint LLC, and it is free, although Cutting recommends wearing clothes that can get dirty.

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