What Happens to Public Art When A Percentage Of The Public Is A Selfish, Disrespectful, Flaming Douche Canoe
So the market mural got tagged last night. It’s been finished for what, a week? One of the artist’s friends recently overheard a group of teenagers saying they were pissed off that we painted over their tags that had been on the bridge for a couple of years. They said they were going to retag it as soon as we were finished. He didn’t get names or anything, so we had no way to prove it, and our budget doesn’t support a security detail or a camera system. Yet.
We did, however, plan the paint layering for this possibility, so there are two coats of clear topped with a third, sacrificial coat of some kind of industrial varnish. Tomorrow I’ll be out there in the pouring rain (under the cover of the bridge, but still…) gently rubbing the unsightly tag off with pure, toxic mineral spirits, all the while praying that the advice we were given by dozens of experts holds true, and the mural itself will not come off with it. 
Mother. Fuckers.
I’ll also file a police report, and have put the word out on Facebook and Twitter, so hopefully community members will keep an eye on the mural if they’re in that part of town at night. 
There’s been an obnoxious comment thread on Facebook that’s basically an ongoing, multi-idiot game of I told you so. And it’s true. Hundreds of people felt the need to stop by my table at the market to tell me what a very bad idea painting a mural on the bridge is because it will only get destroyed. Hundreds of people who think public art isn’t worth the effort because vandals exist. Hundreds of people who walked away shaking their heads, calling me a fool, even while this beautiful transformation was happening right in front of them. They didn’t even stop to look. 
I’m frankly more angry with these people than I am with the vandals. Tell me, oh sanctimonious, concerned citizens of our fair city, should we just hide our creativity and our love of art and beauty indoors away from damaging hands, and minds? I say, no. Should we stay so afraid that we let the belligerent, disrespectful souls in our midsts be the only ones allowed to paint the canvas of our city? I say no. 
Do I wish they’d come down to help and be part of this amazing public art project? Yes. Yes, I do. I wish they’d understood the fact that we didn’t cover over their graffiti because we didn’t like it, but because the bridge is our home – it’s been our home for 20 years – and we wanted to give the market a permanent sense of place. We went through the proper channels to get permission to alter the face with art. It’s privately owned by the Ohio Department of Transportation, and those kids did not have permission to paint on it. We did. We spent $10,000 to transform the space from an overpass into a room filled with light, color, poetry, and spirit. I acknowledge that perhaps these kids have a similar pride of ownership over their tags. I invite them to paint the many other lintels and abutments with their own work. I do this at the same time I invite them to kiss my ass. 
Hopefully this doesn’t turn into a pissing match, and cleaning graffiti off the bridge doesn’t become my second job. 

What Happens to Public Art When A Percentage Of The Public Is A Selfish, Disrespectful, Flaming Douche Canoe

So the market mural got tagged last night. It’s been finished for what, a week? One of the artist’s friends recently overheard a group of teenagers saying they were pissed off that we painted over their tags that had been on the bridge for a couple of years. They said they were going to retag it as soon as we were finished. He didn’t get names or anything, so we had no way to prove it, and our budget doesn’t support a security detail or a camera system. Yet.

We did, however, plan the paint layering for this possibility, so there are two coats of clear topped with a third, sacrificial coat of some kind of industrial varnish. Tomorrow I’ll be out there in the pouring rain (under the cover of the bridge, but still…) gently rubbing the unsightly tag off with pure, toxic mineral spirits, all the while praying that the advice we were given by dozens of experts holds true, and the mural itself will not come off with it. 

Mother. Fuckers.

I’ll also file a police report, and have put the word out on Facebook and Twitter, so hopefully community members will keep an eye on the mural if they’re in that part of town at night. 

There’s been an obnoxious comment thread on Facebook that’s basically an ongoing, multi-idiot game of I told you so. And it’s true. Hundreds of people felt the need to stop by my table at the market to tell me what a very bad idea painting a mural on the bridge is because it will only get destroyed. Hundreds of people who think public art isn’t worth the effort because vandals exist. Hundreds of people who walked away shaking their heads, calling me a fool, even while this beautiful transformation was happening right in front of them. They didn’t even stop to look. 

I’m frankly more angry with these people than I am with the vandals. Tell me, oh sanctimonious, concerned citizens of our fair city, should we just hide our creativity and our love of art and beauty indoors away from damaging hands, and minds? I say, no. Should we stay so afraid that we let the belligerent, disrespectful souls in our midsts be the only ones allowed to paint the canvas of our city? I say no. 

Do I wish they’d come down to help and be part of this amazing public art project? Yes. Yes, I do. I wish they’d understood the fact that we didn’t cover over their graffiti because we didn’t like it, but because the bridge is our home – it’s been our home for 20 years – and we wanted to give the market a permanent sense of place. We went through the proper channels to get permission to alter the face with art. It’s privately owned by the Ohio Department of Transportation, and those kids did not have permission to paint on it. We did. We spent $10,000 to transform the space from an overpass into a room filled with light, color, poetry, and spirit. I acknowledge that perhaps these kids have a similar pride of ownership over their tags. I invite them to paint the many other lintels and abutments with their own work. I do this at the same time I invite them to kiss my ass. 

Hopefully this doesn’t turn into a pissing match, and cleaning graffiti off the bridge doesn’t become my second job. 

In related news

I think I forgot to share this fantastic article by local award-winning food writer Lisa Abraham in last Sunday’s Akron Beacon Journal. It’s about my church market celebrating our 20th year as the pioneer producers only farmers market in the region and the huge mural project that’s currently being painted on the lintels of the Haymaker overpass bridge where the market is located.

The print edition has a series of beautiful color photographs that for some strange reason are not included in the online version. The mural has totally transformed a sort of blighted area of the city into a vibrant and friendly spot that’s causing traffic slowdowns when people stop to take pictures out of their car windows.

You can see some decent photos from the project in this Kent Patch slideshow

I’m so proud of this community. 

Cross that unpleasant managerial task off my list

I just sent out the “sorry, but we don’t have a spot available for you at the market this season” emails. 

Hate to disappoint, but truth is we have more than enough cottage bakers and soap makers and our market isn’t trying to replicate Main St., so having downtown businesses that have storefronts a mere two blocks away setting up a table that could go to a farmer is just not our mission. 

It’s interesting how people want to be part of the market, so they believe they should just be allowed in because of their enthusiasm. And it’s hard to say no to people who are clearly passionate about what they do, and about the market. I guess it’s a testament to what a great community asset it’s become, but we still need to keep to our vision and make our main priority strengthening the local food chain by incubating farmers. 

I’m learning so much. 

I’m so jazzed right now I’m levitating in my chair

One of my big goals for the farmers market is to open up access to everyone in our community by investing in a wireless EBT/SNAP and credit/debit card system. It’s expensive to set up, train vendors, and promote to the community. The money is not in this year’s budget and we unfortunately missed the 2011 grant rounds from USDA and ODA. 

Tonight I presented to the board of directors for our local environmental council about the local food entrepreneur/community licensed kitchen project, the farm to school conference last month, and the market. I took a chance and told them that I’m seeking local funding to purchase the equipment and tokens, and asked if they had any suggestions for who to approach in our county so I can get it set up this year. 

They funded it. On the spot. They’re giving the market up to $1500 to purchase the wireless device, the tokens, and marketing materials. It might even pay for my training. I just have to put a written proposal together next week and they’ll disburse the funds to the market. 

I am beside myself with pride and happiness. Our 53 vendor market will be able to take food stamps this year. A large part of our population will be able to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables, and even food producing plants for their gardens or window planters using their Ohio Directions Card. And the market will also be able to take credit/debit cards so people who didn’t think to bring more than a fiver can get those bushels of tomatoes for the salsa they suddenly need to make without having to drive anywhere.

Access!

Pinch me!

Red sky in morning…
Glad I’m not a sailor, but I am managing the farmers’ market all day and it would be super if the rain could hold off until the last umbrella is put away and I’m in my house with a hot cuppa, starting on the next peck of tomatoes for salsa. I made a big pot of tomato soup last night, and started pinto beans in the slow cooker, for tonight’s dinner. Enchiladas? Or just beans and greens over corn bread? Hmm. No idea. I still have 3 pecks of tomatoes to process, plus 3 dozen ears of corn for the freezer. I think after this weekend, I need to say enough with the preserving because my schedule is so bloated. Oh, but wait! The paste tomatoes are just coming in. Sigh. Alright, two more weeks of this insanity, then I really need to focus on my writing projects. 

Red sky in morning…

Glad I’m not a sailor, but I am managing the farmers’ market all day and it would be super if the rain could hold off until the last umbrella is put away and I’m in my house with a hot cuppa, starting on the next peck of tomatoes for salsa. I made a big pot of tomato soup last night, and started pinto beans in the slow cooker, for tonight’s dinner. Enchiladas? Or just beans and greens over corn bread? Hmm. No idea. I still have 3 pecks of tomatoes to process, plus 3 dozen ears of corn for the freezer. I think after this weekend, I need to say enough with the preserving because my schedule is so bloated. Oh, but wait! The paste tomatoes are just coming in. Sigh. Alright, two more weeks of this insanity, then I really need to focus on my writing projects.