Spock is not impressed with the Cascade Park mural. Apparently neither are some of the Hillside residents.
I happen to know who painted the gray cartoon head. ;-) Heck, I couldn't pass up an opportunity like that! I'm not getting too attached, though, since his days could be numbered.
Even if they DO leave this "mural" up (which I strongly doubt will happen), I'd have to imagine that the regular, illegal-style vandals will spray paint all over it anyway. Once somebody puts a huge section of graffiti somewhere, it doesn't stay for long. Look at the Graffiti Graveyard -- the artwork down there is constantly changing. To me, it seems like they're offering a place for people to semi-legally spray paint whatever they want, and in a short amount of time, this "mural" will be completely covered anyway.
Bob Collins' Newscut Blog today: Art or eyesore?
How is it that everyone has missed the point that it isn't finished?
Not much Unity in the Community going on at all from this piece. Perhaps they should change its name to The Great Divider.
I used to live on that corner. If I still did I'd like to think I'd be indifferent about the mural.
Also, Dan the property owner, who claims it looks like "inner-city crap" needs to realize he has an inner-city rental. He won't likely lose property value. I rented from him and I really doubt the folks that rent there will turn down that property due to a mural.
All that said, let's see how the finished product turns out.
... and unpainted moldy cement looks better because?
I understand the purpose behind the "mural" but I work less than a block from it and have to say it's pretty damn ugly. It's not really a mural so much as a large blank piece of concrete where a bunch of incongruous crap was painted. I think vandalizing it would only improve it.
Dan is continually improving his property. Right now, tenants include a professional pilot, a public defender for St. Louis county, an Internet tech. professional, etc. None of us are indifferent to the "mural."
Hey, let's ask some kids what they think. I've heard enough from the adults.
The central hillside gets yet another blow.
Detroit comes to Duluth.
I support having a splash of color on any blank gray or beige wall. So I like it.
Looks like an improvement to me.
Keep telling me that the Central Hillside isn't a ghetto? The long tired debate. It's a major eyesore of course. Anybody with a brain can see that. Paint it over and you will get better art by real taggers.
Interestingly, that wall has remained free of graffiti.
Angry, sarcastic, caustic, ironic, personal, relevant, funny response!
Say what you will about the mural, the Spock picture makes it all worthwhile.
I feel bad for the kids who were involved in this who have to put up with all the criticism their work is receiving. However, that being said, "inner-city crap" describes the wall to a T at this stage in its development.
I don't have hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia, but does no one else see the 666 overlapping another 666?
I, too, feel bad for the kids that were involved, but I would not want to have to look at that on a daily basis. It looks like really bad graffiti. Aside from it not looking good, I have two other objections.
First, I think it sends a mixed message to children to expect them to respect private and public property and then have them paint a public wall. The same behavior will get them picked up by the police when they're teenagers. The "sometimes it's o.k. and sometimes it's not" is a difficult concept for kids to understand.
Second, my view of a park in an urban setting is of a place to enjoy nature. It provides a break from traffic, buildings, signs, noise, and the graffiti that can dominate life in a city (even a small city like Duluth). Parks are places for trees, flowers, benches, perhaps walking paths. I certainly don't mind art in a park, but it should add to the natural setting, not be a reminder of the city life surrounding you. Granted, the concrete wall is not natural and not attractive, but if that was the issue, then put some trellises in front of it and plant some climbing vines and flowers. Of course, others may have a different opinion of what a park should be...
Finally, I applaud the efforts to have a community event that brings people together. I just think this one was misguided, and based on the outcome, not planned well.
I like the pretty colors. With luck it will get covered with real graffiti as others suggested.
My grassroots neighborhood organization has obtained a permit to paint murals in the Rose Garden, Kelso Park, Washington Square, and Brighton Beach.
We don't have a plan or template. We're just going to let 5 year old kids paint whatever they want. Then we'll find some way to tie it all together later, thus creating unity in the community.
May I just observe that graffiti/'mural' painting is not generally attractive? Unless you are Bansky or Shepard Smith? Which these children are not?
I appreciate the sentiment behind this, but boy is it ugly.
Now if you had a Spock statue ... that would be cool.
"May I just observe that graffiti/'mural' painting is not generally attractive? Unless you are Bansky or Shepard Smith? Which these children are not?"
Observe? So, you are the expert in this matter? Maybe if we all try real hard, we can make this mural controversy as big as Guernica!
I have to say that you all certainly have a right to bitch about this, but that fact does not make you sound any less bitchy.
Now Guernica would be all right. However, comparing Picasso's painting, in opposition to a terrible war, to this 'mural' is a bit of a stretch. If you think the quality of this mural is equal to Picasso, well okay. I don't.
I was comparing the controversy, not the aesthetic. That being said, would you bitch about similar art displayed on your friend's 'fridge? Kids made the mural. Apparently they were unsupervised for much of it, but it was kids! If it is too much of an assault on your eyes, why aren't you bitchin' about billboards? Picasso was a grown-up and a professional artist, so criticism is an appropriate and scholarly companion. Children are not usually held to that kind of standard.
True, and I actually love kid art on a person's fridge. Graffiti, however, is ugly to me, no matter who does it, even cute kids.
But to each his/her own.
As a muralist that uses aerosol as a medium there is a big difference between "graffiti" and large scale murals produced with spray paint. What I thought was an event to unify the community and produce a beautiful piece of public art turned into a eyesore for most of us. I had heard word that some talented aerosol artists were asked to help with the wall. After showing up they got denied the use of spray paint and told they could use paintbrushes and paint like the kids. Diversity? I think not. At least somebody is trying to provide more public art, something Duluth drastically needs. I think more progressive, complex, and thought provoking art might have been a better answer to the question.
On a side note, after reading some of the comments on this post I find it absurd how many people in Duluth are so pessimistic about color. It really is sad.
I'm curious to know if this much bitching would be happening if the mural were in Canal, on the side of the Miller Hill Mall or elsewhere?
This park is city property in a part of town that could use a splash of color and some fun. The Hillside gets a bad rap all the time, now that the kids of the neighborhood are given a chance to have some fun and explore a medium they may have never experienced before, it's still considered negative.
I also don't think claiming the kids will be confused and take up tagging as they get older is a valid argument.
OMG, the wall before was a deadly gray cement color, nothing attractive about it, now at least there is vibrant color. The really cool thing about the wall is that it was a community event organized by artists who have done several other murals in the community. They also engaged children and people of all ages in the project and had a celebration on National Night Out. I don't know what the project will look like when it is done but I look forward to seeing it.
Duluth is a drab, dull city nine months out of the year maybe that is why so many Duluthians object when someone dares to create a colorful mural, but I think it is a breathe of fresh air. I live in Lakeside but work in the Hillside and see this mural every day, it pulls my eyes up to Cascade park as I drive by -- which I have to admit I have not really noticed like this before.
I hope the City let's the project continue and I hope those of you who are describing the hillside as "ghetto" will get some perspective! Most importantly I think we should get behind any community-based project that actually engages our children in a positive project and keeps them "off the streets!"
Not content to make his juvenile point in the comments here, vicarious has a new post that's even stupider. But I can't comment there, so I said it here.
Secret Seasons you need to post more. I had the same thought but couldn't say it quite as well as you have.
After reading everyone else's comments on this can I just say again that the mural is not done - it's nowhere near done - and it's not graffiti or "tagging."
As a staunch supporter of this mural project there are images and patterns that I don't care for in this piece, but while it was being painted I would see new things that I just adored or was even moved to see each day, as well. This mural, either by design or by circumstance, has become performance art. People commenting about it here and in the community have become part of the performance. And of all places, I've been really disappointed to see so many people that I respect and admire on PDD come across as, closed-minded, (pre) judgemental villains. Seriously folks, it's a work in progress, give it a break.
I hope they do paint the lighthouse, and soon. It could be heralded as a resounding protest against our never-ending congressional baffoonery. Maybe the next topic should be what else we can do to combat Grey Duluth? A statue of Spock is a great start. Relenting East End Prohibition is surely tied for first. I hear Woodbury has strict laws forbidding the use of color, I guess folks could just move there if they need more asinine in their bowl of shit biscuits, if life in the Norwegian Riviera isn't grey enough for them already. Two words, Degrazia Museum.
I'll be over tomorrow with the neighborhood kids to paint a similar mural on whatever surface is outside your living room window. Cool?
I'll just add this, to clarify.
The point of my Brighton Beach, etc. comment seemed obvious: This mural - and the process that created it - would never have happened in other Duluth neighborhoods. That's the bottom line. But because this is "the ghetto," there is apparently no need for larger oversight, community input, or proper planning.
I and my neighbors are not opposed to a mural on the Cascade Park wall. We just would've liked - again - oversight, input, and planning, of which there was none.
Secretseasons, your usage of the terms "juvenile" and "stupid," and your personalization of the matter, belie a lack of genuine and useful participation in the debate. It does not become you.
Finally (and this is the last I'll say about the whole dang matter), my hilarious and informative post about the Canal lighthouse mural project was hilarious and informative.
I just found out that community members are coming together to try and cancel the Homegrown Music Festival because they don't like most of the bands that play.
Hot Shot: You need to start a new thread on that subject, quickly add a couple of your own clever and pithy remarks and then close comments right away.
It will be hilarious and informative.
Vicarious is hilarious and informative.
Crap. Now I wish I hadn't said that would be my last comment.
HotShot, your Homegrown comment/joke has no salient comparison to the mural controversy. None.
My frustration is not that I have to look at "color" instead of a gray wall. I couldn't really care less. It's that the process was so completely flawed, and ended with a very poor result, when it could've been great.
TimK, instead of throwing around snarky insults, why don't you address my concerns that the process and final result would never have happened in Congdon or Chester or Spirit Valley?
Thanks, Z. Even with your cute commie brood, I knew you would get it.
Nor did your lighthouse thread. If one can exaggerate, can't we all? Obviously you want to stir the pot. I want to stir back.
And it still seems that the fact the the "result" isn't the final result isn't being addressed.
Procedural Objection: I don't think PDD posters should be allowed to close comments on their own posts simply because the threat of comments undermines their wittiness. PDD is a space that reveals the values and the energy and the excitement of Duluth as a community.
Substantive Comment: That said, I agree entirely with the complaints about the process. Not the complaints about the product; I would need to see something more than these photos to offer an opinion about the product. But NHS, of all organizations, should know the importance of community participation and ownership of the project.
The manner in which those objections have been communicated on PDD make it hard for me to speak because the objections are voiced so poorly. Wittily, perhaps, but the point is not to be witty: it is to motivate people to revision the process in a way that produces greater consensus (a) in the future and possibly (b) to correct for this error in process, if that becomes necessary.
Re-read my lighthouse thread. It is a direct comparison. I do not want to stir any pot. I want people to discuss why such a flawed process occurred.
If I have an idea - say, painting a mural on public property like the lighthouse - wouldn't there be a reasonable expectation that my idea would be receive scrutiny in terms of overall need, appropriate elements and design, and approval by a committee that represents a wide swath of the public?
That is what I want discussed: Why did this not happen in Central Hillside when it would surely happen everywhere else. If that is stirring the pot, I'm flailing here.
I understand the mural is not finished. But I fail to see what could be done to make it coherent, attractive or something that benefits and unifies the community.
OK, I'll directly address the Canal Park "comparison". I think 2 out of 3 of the fountains in Canal Park are ugly. They just look like broken water/sewer lines under the sidewalk, with ugly-ass grates covering them.
Why was I not consulted for my opinion before this installation was put on public property?!?!
I DEMAND RECOURSE AND I WILL POST REPEATEDLY ABOUT THIS AND I WILL TURN COMMENTS ON AND OFF AT WILL AND DAMMIT I WILL BE HILARIOUS AND INFORMATIVE
Also, I think "belie" means the opposite of what you think it means
Thanks for your thoughts. You should come take a look personally and tell us what you think. Does it improve the park or neighborhood? My opinion is that it does not. Some other type of mural could've.
I agree that NHS should've known better. They are a great organization that does really important work.
As per closing comments: I originally closed them on the other thread because I was trying to simply make a point without engaging in arguments. They are now open.
I do not enjoy engaging in arguments with strangers online. It doesn't feel good. However, PDD is a great place for debate under certain context.
For instance, as a city, do we give all of our citizens equal voice as to what happens in there neighborhood? If not, why? Are the processes for things such as public art projects the same everywhere? If not, why?
Let's get productive, then. What steps did NHS skip, or who did not put the breaks on this that could have?
1. Should the Duluth Public Arts Commission have been involved in what is clearly an attempt at Public Art? http://www.duluthpublicarts.org/ (The DPAC link on the far right has the sexiest picture of our mayor I've ever seen -- sexiest picture of any mayor, maybe...)
2. Is it the Department of Public Administration? Did NHS file one of these and they let it fly? What is the process, if one of these is the trigger? http://www.duluthmn.gov/parks/pdf%20files/Project%20Proposal%20Request%20Form.pdf
3. Was the City Council consulted?
Someone said "Yes" to this, and that process is worth interrogating.
Public art will never be universally welcome, which is why public processes must be in place, making clear and transparent what is happening.
For the record, I would have preferred that kids be given water-soluble paints, that that mural be left to stand until washed away -- creating something that in its process created a unifying experience for families, but in its impermanence would have been inoffensive to most.
There are enough professional artists in Duluth hungry for a commission that this space could have been amazing (by my eyes), if the right process were in place.
From the DPAC website:
"Mission Statement: To support public art as a community investment by preserving and promoting in public places, and to support public art activities that benefit the citizens of Duluth; to encourage partnerships that further the awareness of beauty in our community and to support our city's environment through public art."
Appropriately vague, I guess. The one part that strikes me in relation to this circumstance is "...further the awareness of beauty in our city...". In the Cascade case, a mural that celebrated the inherent beauty of the park and its view of the lake would've been great.
secretseasons, it's getting tiresome. If you don't want to be involved in the discussion, or don't WANT the discussion, just stop reading. Please. You will not be able to offend me or discourage this discourse.
Now that actual discussion on the process has been initiated here, I'll take the other post down.
I wonder who decides whether DPAC is involved; maybe they are only involved in certain, publicly funded projects, and not this one?
They may not be the right space to haunt, you know? The DoA may be more on target if this is just an "improvement" to a public facility.
I think you're right. It seems there is a need to better define "improvement to facilities," or at least offer some guidelines.
The city architect was ready to paint over the mural before the mayor asked to hold off until meetings could be help. I suspect it did not meet the expectations that NHS originally put forth.
An interesting question was posed: If this particular project is acceptable and encouraged, why not allow it in every other park?
There's a part of me that wants to consider this unintentional stereotyping; that is, if this were planned in, say, Congdon or Glen Avon, this project wouldn't make it past the first spray can cap being cracked open before the neighbors went batshit psycho. That said, if you want to create "art" in someone's neighborhood, there should probably be some sort of consensus amongst the neighbors as to what constitutes acceptable "art." My guess is that since this neighborhood is where it is, there wasn't any thought given to public sentiment.
Finally, if you want to perpetuate a positive image and clean up a crime-troubled neighborhood (like the Central Hillside has been trying to do for nigh on thirty years now), a graffiti-esque mural in an out-of-the-way park definitely isn't the best way to go about it.
Get over yerselves ... community my ass, makes me want to retreat further into the woods ... the end is nigh.
Mayor Ness, we know you read this, and I just called you very sexy: can you help us understand whether this is a DPAC or a DPA project or some other jurisdiction?
You're right that the discussion has turned surprisingly productive in the last few comments and I had probably gone one snark too far. I was trying to make a point with exactly the same juvenile sarcasm that I was so irritated about. Sorry about that.
Thanks, secretseasons. I am reasonable... Good to know you are, too. I think ( and I'm glad) that we're boiling the whole shebang down to a flaw in the process, which created a flaw in the execution.
I lived and owned property in marginalized neighborhoods here and in MPLS, so I have experience with efforts to revitalize which only cause the opposite. In the long-suffering Elliot Park/North Phillips neighborhood, the only thing that finally made a difference was intense policing and huge private investment. It's an entirely different neighborhood now. Unplanned murals simply do not help a struggling neighborhood.
Back to the point, per BoB's input: just like North Phillips in MPLS used to be, the Central Hillside is essentially a containment zone, where social services are concentrated and an "allowable" measure of street crime takes place without enforcement. NHS projects such as the mural, while nobly intended, have zero chance of affecting residents in a positive manner given the entrenched attitudes, policies, and biases inherent in the "system."
So, as we dig through this whole mural mess, we are unearthing deeper flaws and discrepancies in our urban society.
A few clarifications since people really do seem to want to talk about the process.
1. The mural was planned. The plan was developed by several experienced muralists whose work can be seen all over this city.
2. The mural is not finished. Let me say that again, the mural is not finished.
3. The mural project includes many children but it is not a "children's mural" by any stretch.
4. The mural was approved by the City's Parks & Recreation Director.
5. The process was indeed flawed. I knew about the mural project, I thought that everyone who cared knew about it (and that was probably true, only people just started caring more once work began). However, I can see that it clearly was not communicated clearly enough.
6. People need to be informed and possibly dragged kicking and screaming to public meetings to plan future projects so they don't feel disenfranchised and raise their voices after work has begun.
7. The mural is not "graffiti."
8. It is not tagging or spray painting.
I have extensively studied planning and processes for public spaces and this project actually did miss a few key steps, and that could have been because planners though no one would really care all that much which was a mistake. But no one cared (much) when they cut down a half dozen old growth trees there because the wrong people were camping there. No one really cared when they took out the basketball hoops because the wrong people were paling ball there. And no one really said much when the DOT erected a 50 foot wall in the park it was in the way of Mesaba Ave expansion, either. So I can imagine how that unfortunate oversight happened, not a lot of people have seemed to care much about that park the last few decades. But I don't want to minimize it too much. It was an unfortunate oversight. I'd like to be a part of rectifying that.
Am I alone in my bewilderment that one would complain of a lack of "community inolvement" in an artwork that was created by the community?
Sincere thanks for your obviously heartfelt comments. I would like to address a few of them.
"1. The mural was planned. The plan was developed by several experienced muralists whose work can be seen all over this city."
- Is there a template that laid out what the mural would look like?
"2. The mural is not finished. Let me say that again, the mural is not finished."
- Also relates to a template. I understand that the artists conception was to to tie together the kids' art. But how can there be a "plan" without knowing what will be tied together?
"3. The mural project includes many children but it is not a "children's mural" by any stretch."
- I watched 95% of it take place. It was 95% children.
"4. The mural was approved by the City's Parks & Recreation Director."
- Good to know.
"5. The process was indeed flawed. I knew about the mural project, I thought that everyone who cared knew about it (and that was probably true, only people just started caring more once work began). However, I can see that it clearly was not communicated clearly enough."
- Kudos for the acknowledgement.
"6. People need to be informed and possibly dragged kicking and screaming to public meetings to plan future projects so they don't feel disenfranchised and raise their voices after work has begun."
- In the future, better communication will create better outcomes.
"7. The mural is not "graffiti.""
Thanks, again. As I've stated, there are deeper issues than if it's attractive or not. Much deeper, in fact.
I truly appreciate the discourse that has resulted.
Interesting. Good conversation so far.
While it may be true that people need to be dragged to public meetings, it is also true that people need to know about public meetings in order to be dragged.
I'm reminded of the parcels of land that recently sold on Skyline Drive for something like $4,000 each -- because announcement of the sale was not widely made. See http://topics.areavoices.com/2011/07/28/skyline-land-sale-followed-rules-neighbors-say-they-will-ask-duluth-city-council-to-block-sale/ _I_ would have bought those parcels at that price, and I'm sure a lot of people in Duluth would have thought the same.
The DNT, which for years as served as the unofficial/official channel of communication between the city and the public, may not be working anymore in that capacity, entirely -- it reaches some critical population, but not the whole of the community the way it used to. (I don't know that NHS used the DNT, btw -- this is just conjecture.)
Perfect Duluth Day is one way to reach a lot of folks... and while some of us get the DNT (I get Sundays because I want there to be at least a weekly paper in town), not all of us do. I'd hope NHS would have recognized the public relations value of announcing this event, of publicizing the planning process -- of making a big deal out of what is surely a big deal!
Frankly, had NHS used this to its full PR advantage all the way through, it would both have avoided this conflict AND made a lot of press for them -- win/win?
I think you missed my point. The mural was created by (miniature) members of the community. But in the larger process of planning and designing the mural the community was left out.
(On a side note, I cannot tell you how badly I want to do a "Where in Duluth?" post with a picture of the mural.
Of course, I won't do that)
If you look at one of the previously posted pictures, it wasn't very representative of the "community," unless the demographics of the Central Hillside now mirror those of Cabrini-Green.
That sounds really racist & classist. Is that your intention? If it is, I'm sorry for feeding a troll by asking. If it is not your intention then I just wanted you to know that it sounds really racist, classist, and I'll add divisive, it does to me at least.
I participated in the mural painting several days and I live right by it so I saw the action regularly. So far people of all races, economic classes, and ages stretching from 2 yrs old to retirees have painted in the mural. I would say that "yes" it does represent the community. Duluth does not have now, nor has it ever really had, one single "culture" or "community." Therefore, something that represents the community is likely also going to reflect diversity. "Cabrini Green" does not represent Duluth, to me it represents an oblique reference to the idea that all poor black people are from the "projects" that they are dangerous, and the often repeated, rarely substantiated stereotypical slur that Duluth is "full" of black people from Chicago who come here for free housing and "welfare benefits." That's what I personally think of when someone makes a comment like that. Just sayin' that's how it sounds.
Thank you WildGoose. You said it far better, and with more diplomacy, than I could have.
I agree with hbh1, I've been holding back my snark against all the racism around this debate and I'm glad someone more diplomatic than me called it out.
I was only making an observation based on the picture posted in another thread, and comparing the demographics of said picture to a neighborhood of similar demographics--neither of which represent the demographics of the Central Hillside. I'm not passing judgment on anyone. Just making an observation. Apparently, one must preface all references to race with some sort of positive commentary in order to avoid being labeled "racist" or "classist."
Knee-jerk reactionaries, you are.
I know I'm seen as a prick around here, but I'd like to weigh in. To sum this up, you've got some plain wall and a bunch of kids are allowed to draw and paint on it bringing some fun in the summer to them. That's really it, isn't it? And the problem (other than the dopey "UNITY in COMMUNITY" thing) is what exactly? Can't believe that this is a controversial issue really at this point. Or maybe I can.
I feel there are other things to complain about. Maybe the state of the street on 2nd Ave. east. And lots of other streets, and jobs.
Duluth just loves to complain. Myself included.
No, BoB, that's not "only" what you're saying.
What you're saying is that in order for some people to be "representative of the community" (your words) the first thing you consider is race.
That would be the classic definition of the word "diversity," ss.
And you've made it clear that you're not a fan. You're trolling.
I judge people based on their character. Diversity labels people based on demographics. So yes, I'm not a huge fan of diversity in the sense that I choose to be colorblind in my dealings with others.
Right. So what did you mean by "cabrini green" again?
I'm not going to dive into the angry mob regarding the Cascade Park mural, but I have to agree with rhetoricguy. That photo should be on a calendar!
Cabrini Green: Historically populated by predominately people of African descent.
Photo of kids spraypainting the wall: Populated entirely by people of African descent.
Any other questions?
Flash Gordon, Ming Alert
It will never be finished.
How could anyone resist not adding some more
chaos to it.
Work to Resume on Mural
I walked past this mural the other day and all those bright colors made me smile. How could anyone react otherwise?
Full disclosure: My own children left their marks on that wall. One painted a stick figure; the other painted a tree with an owl perched on a limb. We had moved here from Maine just three weeks prior to the great debate. A neighbor suggested the project as a way to introduce us to the community. The professional artists were there, handing out paintbrushes, smocks, and smiles. What a great welcome. Thank you, Duluth. Thank you Artists!
You know, when I at first had only seen photos on the internet and brief clips on TV, I thought it might not have been a good idea, and probably leaned toward cleaning it off. But when I drove past a couple of days ago, I thought it looked a lot better in person. Maybe it's better if seen in its entirety including the surroundings.
Honestly, I was more bothered by the overflowing garbage cans with ripped-up and spilling bags nearby with crap all over the yard.
The meetings at DPAC (Duluth Public Arts Commission) where interesting. Not one person came to voice opposition to the project, despite many of the most prominent vocal critics being specifically invited. And I gotta tell you, if you want something actually done in local government you can't constrain your complaints to the internet, you have to present them in a rational cognizant manner to those charged with making decisions. The lack of opposition is at least one small part of why the project is continuing post haste.
TBH, the proposed sketches, for phase II, approved so far look really great, that is 3/5 of the entire wall. The remaining 2/5ths are due this Friday and DPAC will weigh them seriously. I actually have high hopes that the finished project will be stunning.
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