The Drama in the Pittsburgh neighborhood in Atlanta continues. This report shows that the battle did not end with the community painting over Roti’s mural. Instead, mural supporters backed by the Georgia Department of Transportation came back and scrubbed the paint off of the mural in an attempt to restore it. This is a powerful statement for the art and the dialogue that this creates. We wish that the buffers would be this responsive when they destroy landmarks and other community murals “by accident.”
Who wins in this situation is unclear. But who loses is pretty obvious. Public art advocates now have another controversy embedded in the public memory when the discussion of murals comes up. Future projects will face additional scrutiny and bureaucracy that destroys momentum for community artwork. Unless this is resolved in a healthy manner (and looking at the dialogue on the Facebook event page, this isn’t likely), relations between the community and artists will be strained, especially in Pittsburgh.
These are the tightropes that we walk in balancing artistic license and the community needs when creating public art. Too much outside input can destroy the creative process. Too little engagement and the work becomes irrelevant, at best, and offensive, at worst, to the neighborhood that it is placed in. Done just right, it becomes a source of pride and a representative of that community. That is what we, as muralists or aerosol writers, need to strive for.
Alex Cox and Paige Stevens scrub the University Avenue retaining wall that earlier today was roller-painted by community members upset with Living Walls mural.
A group of men and women are already working to wash off the paint used to cover French artist Pierre Roti’s Living Walls Concepts mural along University Avenue in southwest Atlanta.
CL photographer and gentle soul Dustin Chambers says seven people are scrubbing the retaining wall with a mix of water and soap and that several more folks are on the way. One person who drove by offered to lend his pressure washer to help remove the paint, Chambers says.
Members of the Pittsburgh community who were angry that they were not consulted about the artwork painted over the mural this morning.
UPDATE, 1:26 p.m.: GDOT is also on its way to the scene. An agency spokeswoman says crews will use a light pressure wash to remove the cover-up paint.
“We are going to go ahead and try to take it off without ruining the mural,” she says.
UPDATE, 2:39 p.m.: More photos by Dustin Chambers of crews helping wash the vandalism off the mural are after the jump.