A street artist whose work has been featured at local art houses and First Friday galleries was arrested in Midtown early Tuesday morning and charged with possessing "graffiti implements" and "graffiti on public or private property," according to an Anchorage Police Department press release.
Maximino Gonzalez, known on the streets and to his fans as "Meno," was caught about 2:30 a.m. near the foot bridge that crosses over Tudor Road near Willowcrest Elementary School. Although he ran away and took shelter "in a wooded area," it took only minutes for police to find his hiding spot, APD's press contact Marlene Lammers said.
Officer Scott Lofthouse, who investigates graffiti, gang and street crime for APD, says he was nabbed with art stencils and "spray paint all over his fingertips."
Meno's work has been compared favorably to the pop art of Andy Warhol and others. Just last month and prior to its closing, Mountain View's MTS Gallery raffled off a piece of wall the art house had provided Meno to stencil and spray paint. An unofficial gallery blog said Meno's work, or that of a few other talented local artists, would be cut from the gallery's walls and framed for the lucky winner.
Lofthouse suspects that there may be dozens if not hundreds of locals who've reported Meno for criminally vandalizing public or private property. So far, only a half dozen or so pieces of art have been formally identified as the 20-year-old's work, he added, although there are hundreds "if not thousands" of other photos, filed with police over the last couple of years, that will now be reviewed to determine whether they belong to the artist--possibly leading to more charges, hefty fines and jail time.
"Personally, I think that he's talented. He's made some stencils that are very elaborate," Lofthouse said, adding that Meno's art has a global audience. "The problem is that the forum he's using to display that art is illegal. By tagging other people's property he's costing them money."
The charges Meno faces are misdemeanors, Lofthouse said, adding that he has no prior criminal record.
Police told local news outlets about the arrest in hopes of uncovering other victims of Meno's art work, Lofthouse said. Anyone who thought that Meno's art amounted to vandalism and wished to prosecute was asked to contact Lofthouse at 907-786-2492.
Contact Eric Christopher Adams at eric(at)alaskadispatch.com