Takin' it to the streets
treet art wars rock Hamtramck!
Published: May 16, 2012
Friedmann noted that the petition in favor of removing Sever's art had 47 signatures, and that three of those signers had addresses outside Hamtramck. He also noted that the petition against removing Sever's art had more than 100 signatures.
It was also heartening to hear Friedmann say, when asked why sketches were not available for review by the council or the community, that he wasn't sure that "art by committee" is art, or will even ever get done. Such artists as Revok, Sever and Askew deserve to be able to determine their own work, and had already agreed not to do anything intentionally offensive.
Comments from the public were, for the most part, favorable, and those commenters were polite, articulate and nonconfrontational. One speaker, who remained neutral on the street art issue, just said Hamtramck needed more controversial art, because she'd never seen a meeting so full before.
Perhaps the best comment of all came from Hamtramck resident Hillary Cherry, about the art negatively affecting the value of the buildings. She pointed out that one local art gallery had gone so far as to remove, intact, a Banksy from the Packard Plant last year, and that it was possible that Sever's art might be worth more than the building it adorned!
A happy ending
It seemed that the forces of creativity had won over the objections of the philistines. And, obviously, if there's a next phase of this project, it won't have the same surprise factor, and things should go more smoothly for the artists, the council and the residents of Hamtramck.
Thewes is still thrilled about the project, despite the trouble with a few ungracious parties. "Art is good for cities," he says. "It's hard to change a school system, for instance. It's hard to attract a huge corporation to bring in more jobs. But it's not so hard to get cool artists to do cool artwork that gets people's attention."
One other thing bothered us: What happened to the unapproved TrustoCorp billboard that the locals defaced? The good news was that TrustoCorp asked Thewes to remove it and secure it somewhere safe from the whitewash rollers of Casmere Street. "Yeah," Thewes says, "they asked us if we could save it so it wouldn't be wrecked."
Thinking of Hillary Cherry's comment, we asked how much would it fetch in a gallery setting if you were to restore and sell the billboard.
Thewes postulated a bit before saying, "I'd say between $10,000 and $20,000."
Oh, really? Who are the vandals now?
Michael Jackman is associate editor of Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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