Friday, August 17, 2012

So now I'm an art critic?

I realize that my confession might cause some to question my devotion to Truth, Justice, and the American Way, but I have to admit that I miss the old mural.

By any objective measure, the new mural is superior: it's bold, colorful, and massive; it livens up a particularly bleak commercial strip along the busiest street in town; and it was executed with skill by a professional artist. The old mural was small, subtle, easily overlooked, not at all colorful or bold or patriotic, and appeared to have been executed by some amateur skulking about in the dark of night with a simple stencil and a can of black spray-paint. 

The new mural is a clear sign that a formerly derelict building is now occupied and contributing to the local economy, while the old mural was a reminder that the building was unoccupied, unprotected, and slowly falling to pieces. For all these reasons it would be right and proper and patriotic to send out a round of applause for the new massive flag mural, but once again I have to admit it: I miss the old mural.

Which was not, in the strictest sense, a mural at all, unless you want to call it a minimalist mural. It was composed mostly of white space marked by the high-water line from some recent flood, with a single command painted near the edge: "Be nice." That's it. Two simple words that I would occasionally glimpse while driving on a nerve-wracking stretch of road often congested with cars driven by frantic people unfamiliar with the proper function of the turn signal. "Be nice" was an appropriate message in that setting, and it always made me smile. So simple and yet so necessary: Be nice!  Who could argue with that?

The new mural conveys an entirely different message: Be proud! An important message, I suppose, but it won't sustain me in the heart of traffic the way the previous mural did. But perhaps it will inspire people to drive more patriotically!

Right. You first.        

No comments: