Art by Majority, III

This is a post I drafted back in May 2012, but forgot to actually publish. It’s the third installment of a three-part series (part 1, part 2) on the political dynamics of art in housing co-operatives.

I can’t seem to get away from this topic of public art. Over the last few days [early May, 2012] I’ve been observing a debate take place over a house listserv, springing from one woman’s proposal to paint a mural in a common room. I thought that rather than write more commentary, I would just convey the conversation as I saw it, which by itself speaks volumes. If this comes off as without context, I encourage you to read through the first two parts of the series.

I’m changing all the names out of respect and courtesy, and a penchant for theatrics. Here it goes (apologies for the irregular font size, I’m not sure how that happened):

Sarah:
Hey I want to do a mural in the projector room- a naked woman with hella cats. I will take like the next two weeks to do it- won’t do a shit job. If you’re not down for any reason at all- if that just isn’t how you want to see that space used- let me know! I won’t be offended. Or if you’d like me to do a sketch and email it around before I start I’m happy to do that.

Thanks!
Sarah 

Beth:
That sounds like a really awesome mural idea but I personally have really liked how the projector has simple solid color walls and I do not want this to change.  I feel like the solid peach in there is really nice and unifies the space. I don’t want to see the room get muraled and I believe we can put murals in other places that need beautification.  

maybe we can vote about mural-ing the projector room?

Pax and love,
Beth
 
Alex:
I second beth
 
Marisol:
Beth and Alex, I totally appreciate the sentiment, but i’d like to point out that Geoff just did a mural in there on friday and no one had a problem with it then.  I’d also like to really stress that sarah is an honestly talented artist and i think this could really be something beautiful and enjoyable for all.
GO NAKED WOMAN WITH CATS!
Alex:
i didn’t know geoff did a mural in there. i thought it was still a place where you had to get house approval to do a mural.
 
i still oppose the idea of additional murals in that room. nothing personal to sarah, nudity, women, or cats.
 
Zweli:
Yeah, I think no one opposed Geoff’s because no one knew about it.  I think Alex’s right; murals in there should be passed at council.  Tho it does sound like an awesome mural
 
Xiao:
WAS Geoff’s mural passed at council?I approve of murals in the projector room, and I vouch for Sarah as a talented artist.I have always wanted to paint this on the ceiling. Like srsly… how amazing would that be!
 
Sarah:
Then I won’t do it. No worries- I only want to contribute something that the whole house wants.
 
Sarah
 
Alonzo:
Okay, I disagree with Beth & Alex on this one, in part because I have a difficult time reconciling the idea that murals “beautify” a common space but should also be forbidden from parts of it. I am simply of the opinion that we can do better than a homogenous, flesh-colored wall.
Admittedly, most of the murals in our house are not masterpieces, but I do think those consisting of more than bathroom graffiti are sincere attempts to make our house more interesting than it was before, and are for this reason alone better than humorless, blank walls. The murals are also the only forms of institutional memory we have, and I believe they inspire current residents to add to the house culture.Case in point: the co-ops with the strongest cultures are the most heavily tattooed.
 
William:
I don’t want to really take a side on this because I agree a bit with both, but we passed a bylaw saying that room needed council approval for murals about two years ago. That’s just kinda how it stands as far as I know.
 
Sarah:
I said I’m not doing it. Problem has been solved.
 
Kyle:
I would love to see your mural somewhere else in the house, sarah!
 
Geoff:
I should chime in!
My understanding was that there was a motion passed at council to keep the projector room mural free for a period of two years. That two years is up now.
I probably should have talked with some people about it first. It was an impulsive move on my part, but I am of the opinion that impulses should be indulged. That’s where most of the murals come from.
I think there are many other, more disagreeable aesthetic issues with the projector room, mostly that nobody has any respect for it in the first place. People don’t bother to clean up after themselves in there, they shove the furniture into all sorts of awkward and unusable configurations and don’t bother to put it back, etc. etc. Personally I think these are bigger obstacles to enjoying the projector room than a mural on the wall, but…
That said I’m going to finish the mural and if people want me to paint over it I’ll paint over it.

And that’s all!

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