Until very recently there was a 200-foot-long mural on my street. The painting depicted people enjoying our neighborhood's most notable geographical feature, Bernal Hill. You've been to Bernal Hill many times on this blog, and portions of the mural have appeared here as well. An example:
Well, the mural is gone. Where there was once a large piece of public art, now there is a blank wall as far as the eye can see. This happened a week or two ago, without notice. I was shocked to find the mural suddenly gone.
This notice appeared sometime after the mural was painted over. I saw it for the first time today.
My first reaction? Please don't paint murals if you're a control freak. Find another outlet. Murals fade in the course of time. That can't be a surprise to anyone, least of all a muralist.
I appreciate the need to maintain public art. And the mural needed some repair for sure. But it was nowhere near blight. There are faded, cracked murals all over San Francisco. Are they blight? I don't think of them that way.
And what about this idea that an artist "should have the right to protect the integrity of his/her work". I don't know anything about the legal status of the mural or the artist's right to possess it. This wasn't a copyright issue. Morally speaking, when you give something, don't you give up some interest in it? Does art deserve an exception? All art? I'm not even addressing whether "should have" and "does have" are equivalent.
This is all very recent and I haven't thought about it much. But right now I want to say thank you but no thank you to future art from this artist. Please don't make gifts to the community that you might decide to take back one day when you deem it necessary. Or at least give notice in the mural that it only exists at the artist's discretion. Then maybe I won't grow so attached next time.
I am very interested in your comments on this issue. If you have any, please weigh in.