This review was one of the highlights of my summer.
“One lasting effect of the actions of empires is that it can be difficult to locate the voices of the underdog, unmitigated by the interests of the victor. For this reason, it's critical that we support the endeavors of those who are the keepers of these arcane histories.:
Agreed ! But the application of this concept to the Seneca always seems to stop half way. We are asked to support efforts to collect and evaluate the Seneca’s side of their relationship with the Europeans, but never to do the same for the Seneca’s victims among their fellow Native Americans. Certainly the Senecas never ask that we listen for the “voices of the underdog” or look for the “arcane histories” when those underdogs
were the tribes attacked, decimated and driven off their traditional lands by the Senecas in their role as the assault troops for the Haudenosaune.
Could it be that hypocrisy, double standards and selective memory has worked to ensure that broken treaties and stolen land where the evil whites are the offending party is a more sympathetic role for the Seneca to play than that of blood stained aggressor?
For example, Where do we now hear the voices of the Hurons, Neutrals, and Eries? Great Lakes tribal confederacies attacked and in some cases destroyed with thousands killed or taken prisoner by the Seneca during the Beaver Wars of the mid -17th. Century? What efforts to resurrect the Ganondagans of those tribes are we being asked to participate in? What “history told by the survivors” is there when the Senecas made certain that there were no survivors?
I've seen this show in New Orleans and, by chance, Philadelphia. In Philly, there were over 200 in the audience (I hear all five shows were sold out). Since I was toward the front, I looked back to see how the show was being received. Young and old were all focused, attentive and laughing their rears off.
Watch this space next week for the debut of a new column, "Eric's Kitty Corner."
This review makes me want to catch this unique show
Having the privilege of seeing artists create...watching bare and barren spaces be transformed into vibrant surfaces...encouraging the public to explore and participate...Two thumbs up, Wall Therapy. Thanks, Rebecca.
In the Spirit of conversation Gingerbeard did propose an Idea for a Mural to be done in Wheatpaste or Paint. The Idea was Fredrick Douglas with one of his famous quotes ." It is easier to build strong children then to repair broken men." This Idea was proposed to be done in the south wedge being that Fredrick Douglas himself lived right on south avenue.
I'd personally like to thank all that have taken the time to respond and discuss this matter further. From Rebecca Rafferty who has written an amazing article and an equally well written response. To Mr. Jack Russell for vocalizing his concerns over the project and what it's impact could be on the Rochester area. We as a community can never hope to improve if we don't hear all the sides of a discussion, and willing to understand others views. So thank you to all for taking the time to write in.
If it helps, I'd just like to take a moment to address the point that Jack Russell made in his last message: "That doesn't mean the mural project is all wrong; however, I think people who back it should be aware of the negative side and be more prepared to accommodate those who feel adversely affected -- not simply vilify those who are not happy with what's going on."
The crew and supporters of this endeavor have taken that into account and have brought in some very talented people to handle all aspects of the public relations for the entire week (and beyond if necessary). They literally have a small team of people busily working away answering questions, in person and online, and listening to any and all concerns regarding the murals being created and the artists creating them. Rest assured that there will not be any vilification or negative/libelous statements directed at anyone from our crew, we respect those who have different opinions than us, with the understanding that we wish to be offered the exact same respect when offering our own opinion.
For instance, I myself have been out in the community at all the mural locations taking time to talk with onlookers to get their opinions and to listen to any concerns they might have. I'm happy to say that the number of individuals upset or worried were practically non-existent. The few that were worried not only were happy to discuss the matter, but were shocked when the artists themselves took time from their murals to discuss the matter. The Wall\Therapy team and the artists have the utmost respect for Rochester and it's citizens, and we hope that this shows through to any and all who wish to discuss the matter any further.
Should you wish to discuss anything over with the crew you can find the contact information via the website, or send them a message on any of the social media outlets like twitter or Facebook.
Oh my, I guess I'm glad to have stirred up some discussion. The odd thing is that in most matters I'd probably be on the side of the people who dislike my comment. At any rate, real discussion seems healthy. I'll certainly reconsider my views and where they are coming from. But I would ask those who don't like what I'm saying to examine yourself (as some are saying I should do with the murals) to see why objections like mine bother you. And if you can imagine these views that disturb or irritate you being distilled into a slogan that you didn't just get to think about briefly but had to see scrolling across your screen on a regular basis, you might get an idea of how someone could have trouble living with challenging art on their once soothing blank walls.
Unlike provocative books, movies and museum art, murals are out there. Some of the people who are bothered by them (or who LIKE seeing them but not living with them on a daily basis!!) have had their choice about when and how frequently they encounter the art taken away. This is a serious issue for all public art.
The starting point for my comment was Paul Goldberg's letter, published in the 7/24 City. And the fact that I love blank walls -- which are seldom really blank but full of character, and history, and evidence of random elemental processes, etc. But let's consider Goldberg and, yes, the many residents I expect he represents. Were they really brought into the process? Did they really have an opportunity to choose? Or was it a done-deal that just needed a certain amount of going through the motions?
At any rate, isn't there a temptation toward personal imperialism whenever one thinks one knows what's best to put up in someone else's environment, whether it's billboards or art or security forces (I am not saying these are equivalents). The arrogance I referred to was not the art or the artists but in the project sponsor's ridiculing those who legitimately objected. It's perhaps spiritually useful but nonetheless truly patronizing to tell people that if they don't enjoy seeing something they should examine themselves. I don't like seeing a Walmart, or even an art museum, being built on a former farm or natural area. I can examine myself to see why, I can acknowledge my own destructive tendencies and so on, but the development is still going to strike me as wrong.
Here we have murals that some love and some hate. Not to recognize the validity of the objections from people like Mr. Goldberg, to see objections as inherently small-minded or anti-creativity or on the other side... to have no compassionate awareness of the negative aspect of this -- even if you know in your bones celebration is the larger, greater response -- that seems as limited a mindset as the other side supposedly displays.
But, yeah, discussion is good, and dialogue, and developing a porosity of mind that can truly consider all sides. I'm always learning. I do not know Mr. Goldberg, but I imagine he would find common cause with and be able to have fun with many of the mural proponents and artists, and I expect he could be a strong ally in the fight against the cultural, political, and moral decay some comments refer to... But one's visual environment can be important, and some great people value calm and simplicity more than provocation in their everyday surroundings. I think he's legitimately pissed off, and not for stupid reasons. That doesn't mean the mural project is all wrong; however, I think people who back it should be aware of the negative side and be more prepared to accommodate those who feel adversely affected -- not simply vilify those who are not happy with what's going on.
p.s. I agree that a lot of by-committee public art -- most of it! -- is horrible and at least some of the mural art is wonderful. There's no easy truth here about what's right and wrong, good and bad.
p.s. 2 The implication -- made by one writer -- that not accepting a potentially disturbing large artwork in your neighborhood has anything to do with one's awareness of cultural disintegration and corporate take-over, or one's personal efforts to face and fight what's happening in the world... is preposterous. And highly counter productive if you really want to make the world more democratic and humane.
I walked down part of the El Camino Trail from Irondequoit this morning. My intention was to see the art, which I did. But what really made me feel good were the three different people also wandering around who engaged me, happy to see the artists in their neighborhood.
Don't let one lap dog ruin the success of this project . I found this statement most telling " but a lot of it, even "the best", is jarring, unsettling, and not at all what a lot of people going about their lives want to have to look at routinely." I translate this as "I only want to see pretty things" Art by it's nature is created to challenge us. Using the jack Russell's argument we should not have to see abandoned buildings. Homelessness illness etc. All these things exist in our city. Ignoring/marginalizing these things neither cures them nor addresses root causes. Enjoy you Disneyland while Rome burns. I loathe seeing the architecture wegmans uses and that was created after years of wrangling. .. it to me represents a larger detriment to the city than any art could ever cause. And this guy represents "a lot of people" what'dehe do take a poll? Own your opinion and don't hide behind the masses...
Trigger Warning: Art.
Jack Russell - What's great about this project is that it has started from the bottom up rather than top down. The community itself is what organized the project rather than "art by committee." There were planning meetings that the public were invited to attend. There have been many opportunities for voices to be heard in planning and during the week-long festival. Just last night there was an incredible and free artist roundtable at School of the Arts where some of your questions could have been answered by the artists themselves. There have been so many opportunities for voices and opinions to be heard in this project, whereas if it had been dictated by the city or the county, the art most likely would have been dictated by city leaders and project funders.
We also would likely not have gotten such world class artists to do the paintings as they appreciate being able to choose their own subjects rather than having the content dictated to them. By doing the project in this way, Rochester has attracted world renowned artists who have varied backgrounds and artistic styles, turning our city into an amazing canvas. All art will not appeal to everybody, but with such diverse artists, there's bound to be something for everybody.
If you had come to the artist discussion last night, you may have been surprised by the artists' knowledge of their work as possibly temporary and their openness (though not desire) to have their work taken down if deemed by the community to be too problematic.
I just can't believe that any of the amazing murals that are part of this project could be deemed "aesthetic hell" when compared to the blank walls, nearby alleys and dumpsters, and in some cases abandoned and condemned properties.
Wall\Therapy is an incredible asset to this community and is meant to bring together the community and encourage people to see the beauty in some unappreciated parts of the city.
Dear Mr. Jack Russell (and anyone else who cares to comment):
It's unfortunate to hear that you view these art endeavors (which are very much attempting to unite different communities within Rochester and to promote a grassroots, honest, medical philanthropic endeavor in third world locations) as mere "self-righteous bullying," as you called them. The project is still in its infancy, is making attempts to encourage Rochesterians to become more aware of their surroundings, for better or worse, and ultimately is driven toward promoting the charity that Dr. Ian Wilson and colleagues have founded.
I wonder what you would point toward as an example of a genuine open dialogue. I don't recall being consulted about many of the public artworks which have gone up in Rochester. I am not impressed by many of them, and if there was a committee involved in putting them up, those committees certainly doesn't represent the majority of the city's tastes by any means. This is hardly democratic, and hardly a dialogue with the citizens.
I am tempted to say "Not everyone will like everything in the public realm. Too bad." And also add that I have personally noticed that quite a few of the most outspoken people critical of the murals are themselves local artists, and many have used this opportunity to promote their own work. That will happen. But this discussion is complex, and extends beyond art.
Art just happens to be the thing that we seem to pick on the most ferociously, likely because art is the most powerful and artists themselves are the least. By this I mean art has the potential to have a greater impact than most things do, and, save a very few, artists don't tend to have a lot of personal political clout or resource.
Speaking of citizenry not being consulted when the aesthetics of their cities shift:
What have you to say about the thousands of billboards, or even the selection of particularly hideous newer architecture, or the vulturous chain stores not owned by locals, which are all imposed upon the residents of Rochester?
It would be fascinating to have a dialogue with the community regarding this matter.
Is this so-called imposition limited to art? Are your aesthetic tastes offended when it comes to these billboards and predatory stores, or just when the projects are specifically labeled "art?"
Are these murals really egotistic impositions or could they be construed as an offering, or an attempt to open a dialogue within a city?
If you insist upon labeling the paintings egotistic impositions, are they worse than the abundance of shameless and greedy advertisements of things that are physically/morally/spiritually bad for us?
Do we feel motivated/empowered to protest and call out the corporate offenders, or is it just easier to pick on the efforts of not-so-wealthy little guys?
Is it possible to be offended by something and then moved to examine the self, i.e. what about this is offensive to me? Is the factor that I find offensive present in the art, or did I interpret it a certain way? (we all bring something of ourselves to the table when looking at art) Is it possible to have another look? Is there a possibility for dialogue and growth?
My point in writing this and all art articles is not to stand on a pedestal and tell people what to revere, but rather to provide a space for conversation about art and culture within our city. I am most delighted when we are able to approach these matters in a levelheaded, open, and civil manner, and least pleased when emotions and stubbornness reign. That gets us nowhere.
I think everyone who thinks this wall therapy is fun should read Paul Goldberg's letter of 7/24 in which he relates the experience of having to see a particularly (to him -- and to many others) unappealing mural every day. To me that would be aesthetic hell, and for every individual of very particular taste who gushes about the mural artists there may be countless ( and, shamefully, uncounted) others who have to live with the results for some indefinite term. A lot of this art is exciting, inventive, alive...but a lot of it, even "the best", is jarring, unsettling, and not at all what a lot of people going about their lives want to have to look at routinely. As far as I can tell, this initiative did not arise from any community need or interest and was, rather, imposed -- maybe with good intentions but not with true regard for or respect for anyone who wasn't on board. Public art needs to respect the public and serve the public. And when artists and art boosters have an idea to put out there for the supposed greater good, it does a disservice to the creative spirit to replace real dialogue with one-sided, self-righteous bullying.
no music line up this year..??might sell more tickets if we knew what bands are coming..
I just want to say the I love this. I really appreciate the fact that somebody is paying these world class muralists to make our city a more beautiful place. There are far too many blank walls around here, far too much ugliness.
While this is only a small element, it is a net positive for the city and makes it a more attractive place to be. Given our historical trend of declining population, and fewer people coming downtown, this can only help.
Though I can't speak for the festival organizers regarding why some artists are chosen to participate and others are not, it's worth mentioning that the artists you speak of specialize in wheatpaste, not murals.
so why isn't Spaceman, Ax, or Gingerbeard a part of this?
Go ru ru love the show .
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