{the recent Go Paint Day at The Fabrication Yard was a welcome relief for graffiti artists eager to show Dallas: We aren't who you think we are.

The Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/2fiIPWh ) reports the West Dallas property's old metal buildings, tight alleyways and giant brick "free wall" provide a place where taggers have free rein to express themselves.

"We need more places like this," said Melissa Gannaway, a frequent visitor to The Fabrication Yard in Trinity Groves.

Another artist at the event, who would only provide his tagger name, "Lefts," said street art is his form of worship and the best outlet he knows to relieve stress.

"This is church for me," he said. "This is my way of getting all my emotions inside and putting them out."

Kirk Garnett, one of Go Paint Day's organizers, said he's seen the art form mature since he grew up creating graffiti-style art in Chicago.

"The culture of graffiti is evolving and ever-changing," Garnett said. "Graffiti is something that has been around since the beginning of human communication."

The artists, themselves, have changed, too. Whereas they once belonged to gangs and used tags to stake claims to turf, now taggers join crews.

And while gangs seek to gain territory and eliminate rivals, groups like Garnett's Bronx Boys Rocking Crew just want to gain notoriety by creating a head-turning mural.

"This culture means a lot to me," he said. "We need spaces where people can see this art."

Even if some crews do still tag illegally, Garnett said, most do not, and they're far from a gang.

But don't take a tagger's word for it: Police and a study by researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas agree gangs and graffiti don't mix like they once did.

"Gang culture has really evolved," Dallas police Lt. Eric Roman said. "You have many street taggers that aren't gang members."

Gangs in the 1990s used tagging to call out rivals, Roman said, but that forum has moved online to social media, ultimately making the department's job easier.}


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