Residents paint over a second Shepard Fairey mural - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Residents paint over a second Shepard Fairey mural

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email 

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19)  - A second Shepard Fairey mural in the Tri-State has been painted over.

Last week, community outrage over a mural with a child soldier prompted a business owner to paint over it. Now another mural's been covered up with cream paint. This time, this owner says he had nothing to do with it, and Cincinnati police are investigating.

Resident Mae Richardson said she didn't like the Shepard Fairey mural that used to cover the wall on the side of the former Spectrum Nightclub at 5020 Whetsel Ave. in Madisonville.

"Matter of fact, I am so happy to see it whited out," said Richardson.

She said many community members thought a racist group put it up.

"This is a predominantly black neighborhood," Richardson said. "We thought it was the Aryan nation or the Ku Klux Klan."

The mural was made up of several images, but one in particular struck a nerve with many people who live here: police with nightsticks.

"The only thing that I didn't agree with on the mural was the writing over top of them with 'We're the police, and we'll kick your ass and get away with it,'" said Herbert Barber. 'If I took it for what it said, I thought, they was boasting about it, because that's what they do here."

The Madisonville Arts Center sits across the street from the building. Dan Dermody founded the Center, and encouraged Ed Mayfield, the building's owner, to apply for the mural. They beat out dozens of other property owners.

Fairey finished the mural at that location last Thursday.

"The following night I got phone calls, wanting to know who put that up," Dermody said. "By what authority."

Dermody, the owner's assistant Vicky Bezak, and police officers met with a few of those concerned residents on Saturday. Dermody said some of them even threatened to paint over the mural. Days later, someone did.

Bezak said the owner had nothing to do with the incident, and she's reported it to Cincinnati police.

Debbie Hill, executive director of the Madisonville Arts Center, told FOX19 that she last saw the mural around 8:00 p.m. on Monday. Hill said that's when she left the office. She said she returned to the building on Tuesday morning around six, and that's when she discovered it had been painted over.

"There are a couple of things that I didn't like about {the mural} in terms of the message," Dermody said. "But that doesn't mean you have a right to destroy it."

The mural was one of 16 that Fairey personally put up throughout the Tri-State last week. Property owners signed a contract with the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC). They volunteered their buildings, but left the final say over content up to Fairey. The murals were supposed to remain on the walls through the duration of Fairey's exhibit at the CAC. FaIrey's installation ends on August 22nd.

Fairey's best known for his "Hope" poster he created during Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. The poster remains the subject of a legal battle between Fairey and the Associated Press over copyright issues.

One of Fairey's murals in Covington was also painted over last Thursday. Fairey completed the image of a child soldier carrying an automatic weapon on the MAC Productions building off West Pike Street. Michael Claypool, the building's owner, said dozens of parents and school leaders complained to him so he painted over it.

Many critics complained the images are too graphic for children.

"Kids from like 13 were looking at it," said Richardson. "They didn't understand it. They thought it meant go to war. Or one boy, 13 years old, even said does that mean that this community is a bad community?"

Newport elementary school teacher Judy Haynes disagreed.

"I saw a picture of the mural," Haynes said. "There were similar ones down at the Contemporary Arts Center. I took four different classes from both schools down and I was a bit disappointed because of the strong anti-war theme that Shepard Fairey always puts out there.

Shepard Fairey issued this statement Tuesday afternoon:

"When I heard that someone had covered up my recent mural in the Madisonville section of the city, I was disappointed. My art work and the images associated with them are meant to create dialogue and help people confront difficult issues and hard truths facing the world. By covering up the mural, the perpetrator is demonstrating that there are still people in the world who have a fear of artistic and free expression and want to stifle the dialogues I hope to spark with my art."

Dermody said the incident is not indicative of how most residents in Madisonville feel about the artist or art in general.

"This is nothing more than a vehicle," said Dermody. "This brought this piece of artwork brought us to the table. Now we need to get away from the artwork and focus on what is the problem."

Dermody said he now plans to work with the CAC to hold a discussion on the bigger issue surrounding this incident.

"The dialogue of public art can foster is really important," said CAC Director Raphaela Platow. "After all, art makes us aware of the experiences and points of view of others-which is a powerful thing and should not be dismissed. What happened today is disappointing, but if art can expose issues within a community that need to be addressed, then at least it has affected positive change."

Dermody said he also hopes to hold a fundraiser where he'll donate the profits to Fairey so he'll return to Madisonville and paint a new mural.

 

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