May 18, 2009

"You know I don't know if there was hidden gang meaning behind it with the cross, with the skull, with the deer, with the police camera's."

"Was there something anti-police about it? I don't know what's in his mind. That's how I viewed it."

Says Chicago 11th ward alderman James Balcer, who got the city's "graffiti blasters" to blot out a mural that an artist — Gabriel Villa — had spent 2 weeks painting on a privately owned wall. (The link goes to Chicago Public Radio, which put that apostrophe in "camera's" — twice.)
Villa did the work as part of a local art festival. The mural itself was on private property, on a wall owned by the mother of a festival organizer. Villa says several Chicago Police officers approached him about the work while he painted. He thinks they may have been offended but he says the painting doesn't have an anti-police message.
Here's a photo of the ex-painting. Judge for yourself. Anti-police?
VILLA: This mural was not a quiz. A lot of contemporary art tries, you know it tries to baffle you, or tries to confuse you, or kind of flip things on its head. I wasn't asking anything.

Villa says he thinks police officers disliked the mural and they called the alderman who ordered the mural to be painted over.

BALCER: Yeah, I'm the alderman here. I was told about it and I okay'd it and I stand by it.

39 comments:

Jason (the commenter) said...

11th ward alderman James Balcer says he called in the graffiti blasters because the owner of the building never got a permit for the mural.

This I don't believe. The alderman called in people to paint over the mural when they could have fined the owner of the property?

Pogo said...

"MARSZEWSKI: We didn't realize that you need to get a permit to paint your own wall. Do you know if that is in fact a law?

A spokesman for Chicago's buildings department says section 13 25 50 of the City Code requires building owners to have a permit for painted signage or to alter or repair painted signage on a building. But a spokesperson for the city's law department says there's no permit necessary for a mural on the side of a private building as long as it's not an advertisement and as long as the property owner has given their permission.
"


It's The Chicago Way.

As goes Chicago, so goes the nation.
Now, anyway.
Free speech was great while it lasted, wasn't it?

Bissage said...

We learn from our mistakes. The next time he paints a mural, Gabriel Villa will make certain to work in a flattering portrait of the local alderman.

Ann Althouse said...

@Jason Read the whole thing. A permit was not required.

MadisonMan said...

The alderman thinks bluster at this point can save his sorry hide, and maybe it will. So he wittingly mentions gangs as an aside. This was preferable to saying I can't tell if it was an advert for same-sex marriage and human slave trafficiking -- I just don't know -- so I covered it up, I guess.

Perhaps all of Chicago can be painted a nice dull battleship Grey.

m00se said...

*sigh*

It's Chicago folks - land of "we like loose laws 'cause we trust our cops to make the right decision".

Consider this: some time back in the 90's, there was an alderman of a neighborhood on the north side that was next to another town (not part of Chicago). Chicago had rules that were designed to hamper in the development of big-box stores, and the neighboring community didn't. So people in the Chicago neighborhood would cross the street bordering the two areas to shop in the big box stores.

The alderman's solution? He had a divider built down the center of the road that made it virtually impossible to cross the street safely.

Ya gotta love Chicago, kids...

traditionalguy said...

The mural is/was full of ideas communicated at a sub-conscious level. It was art which was done at the sub-versive to business-as-usual level. The local Police Power does not allow public communications at a level it does not control. So it was another Police Riot done the Chicago way. What is a "Police State" and why does Socialism always require one?

Big Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Big Mike said...

Here goes my credentials as an art critic, but the wall does look better in the "after" picture.

On the other hand, I hope (there's that word again) that some of the people who fell so hard for Barack Obama are getting to understand "the Chicago Way." If the law is on the government's side then use the law. If not, then break the law and do it anyway because who's going to stop you?

We've already seen some of this in the Obama administration; we'll see more.

And please dont' try to tell me that McCain would have been no different.

dbp said...

A reasonable outcome would be for the city to pay the wall's owner for their valdalism.

The owner can use the money to have the mural re-painted or keep the money for something else.

In addition and as a penalty for his stupidity, the same mural should be painted on alderman Balcer's residence. It could be a sort of scarlet letter thing.

Pogo said...

"... please dont' try to tell me that McCain would have been no different."

Obama gave us immediate Socialism with a gangster ethos.

McCain would have delivered Socialism on the installment plan, just like the previous 19 years.

Different by degrees.

ricpic said...

The second version of the wall is a very soothing beige. A distinct improvement.

MadisonMan said...

The second version of the wall is a very soothing beige. A distinct improvement.

For someone with a beige mind, yes. Which is why the alderman probably likes it.

LutherM said...

A reminder of the 1968 Democratic Convention, where the Chicago Police beat up the young protesters.
All citizens can sleep with bad dreams now that a Chicago Democrat Community Organizer (Ward Heeler) is in the White House and another Chicago politician is Chief of Staff.

tim maguire said...

Pogo, I buy the socialism vs. socialism lite narrative of the last election (and much as I am disgusted by the people who put a rank beginner in the most powerful job in the world, I have to admit the alternative was not significantly different in intentions), but Obama brings a level of street thug that McCain would not have. The thug quality is what's in play here.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Pogo : But a spokesperson for the city's law department says there's no permit necessary for a mural on the side of a private building as long as it's not an advertisement and as long as the property owner has given their permission.

Sounds like a lawsuit in the making then. Let the city pay for restorers!

Jason (the commenter) said...

Althouse : @Jason Read the whole thing. A permit was not required.

Yeah, I didn't read that part, but I was trying to say I didn't believe the alderman's reasoning because even if a permit were required there's no way a government official would give up a chance to fine someone. That's money in the bank.

nrn312 said...

It's pretty hilarious that some of you guys think that Balcer is some sort of socialist. He's actually one of the most reactionary aldermen on the City Council and controls the ward on a street level with a iron fist. Of course, in the end, he's just a Daley puppet. He doesn't have any sort of close connections with Obama as far as I can tell.

http://www.chicagoreader.com/features/stories/citycouncil/balcer/

Previous Life Marine who served in Vietnam
Loves Veterans
Hates Jane Fonda—don’t get him started
Prospects Loyal soldier who no matter the issue will find a way to talk about veterans

Big Mike said...

@Tim, you get it.

@Pogo, pay attention to what Tim said.

@ricpic, I thought it looked sort of like the color of a turd. But very appropriate for Chicago.

Where's Titus when we need him?

Pogo said...

"@Pogo, pay attention to what Tim said."

I had hoped my "Socialism with a gangster ethos" comment evoked pretty much the same conclusion as Tim's "Obama brings a level of street thug".

At least it was so intended.

As for that wall resembling a turd, if one's pinched loafs are consistently that color, one might suspect biliary disease.

Chip Ahoy said...

* sads *

I'm visualizing a mural on the side of a privately owned building that incorporates police officers with rollers painting over a mural that includes an alderman being covered with paint and with cameras that observe all this life of a city, its religious elements, its crime, its police activity even of them painting over art with rollers, in an area once occupied by nature and with clouds flying in procession overhead suggesting the indifference of geologic time to the life of cities.

ricpic said...

I'm visualizing a mural of the Daley machine raping the Chicago taxpayer...well, a man can dream.

traditionalguy said...

Socialism always requires a police state since natural people have no motivation to get up and work anymore. The party line indoctrination will only work a little while, and the Party is seriously afraid of free expression breaking the spell. In the end only a Police state that is feared is left to motivate the people to do anything. Wealth must come from expanding conquered lands where once productive people's stuff can be stolen for re-disribution. We are back at Joe The Plumber's comment's publicity that was quickly painted over too.

PatCA said...

From the comments in the original article: "i know the artist and I know that he wasn't trying to attack the police, but get people to engage in dialogue about their communities in a deeper thoughtful way."

Translated, it's anti-police. That said, the alderman had no right to paint it over. Well, unless he supported Obama. Then it's for our own good.

Peter V. Bella said...

Welcome! Welcome! To the utopian great DemoKrat City of ChiKago. Our dictator rules with an iron fist and our politburo has more individual power than any other elected official- anywhere.

Free speech and expression has be dead and buried here for ages. No one dares to go up against the political forces in power. Aldermen do what they want, when they want, how they want, when they want. They care not for the people. It is all about the power. If you do not like it too bad. You will be crushed.

Yes, folks, this is a great AmeriKan city. A model of things to come in AmeriKa. Remember, our glorious president and redeemer was a card carrying member of the Chicago DemoKrat party. He rose to glorious power with their backing and owes everything to the party. It was the party and its corruption which launced his career, sustained his rise, and saw his ascension to the throne of power. His right hand men- Axelrod and Emanuel are card carying members. They are the enforcers of the party rule.

This is what we have to look forward to. Soon, all of AmeriKa will like our Eden, our utopia, our workers paradise; ChiKago, the urban paradise.

Peter V. Bella said...

"Well, unless he supported Obama. Then it's for our own good."


Wellllllllll, he did paint it brown, instead of white.

Peter V. Bella said...

"I'm visualizing a mural of the Daley machine raping the Chicago taxpayer...well, a man can dream."


You do not have to picture it. Just move here and live it. It is rape, looting, and pillaging. Those Vandals, Cossocks, Huns, and Visgoths were pikers compared to the Daley regime.

William said...

A police camera covered with a cross, a skull, and a deer can be said to equate police surveillance with death and the martyrdom of the innocent. The artist can claim he meant something else, but the police can reasonably claim that there is a latent anti-police, pro gang bias in the picture.....On this now blank wall, I would like to commission a new mural. On this new mural, someone who looks like the artist is represented as being gang raped by members of MS18. This mural will not be meant to express hostility towards gang members or the artist. Rather it is meant to show the loving, symbiotic relationship between the artist and his community.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

The real vandalism is the apostophe in "camera's".

TMink said...

Villas wrote: "A lot of contemporary art tries, you know it tries to baffle you, or tries to confuse you, or kind of flip things on its head. I wasn't asking anything."

Nor was he saying anything. That is the problem I have with contemporary art, it attempts to incite or irritate me without having anything much to say other than "Gotcha." That and the abandonment of technique.

Trey

Bruce Hayden said...

It looks like the City may have infringed the artists copyright in the work by destroying it. Authors (i.e. creators) of works of visual arts have additional copyright rights under 17 U.S.C. 106A, and 106A(3) prevents intentional distortion, mutilation, or modifications (A) in some situations, and destruction (B) in others.

Of course, there is the sticky 11th Amendment problem of liability for state actors. So, Chicago is probably off the hook. But does qualified immunity protect the alderman, who likely be held to be a contributory infringer?

Ann Althouse said...

Cities don't have "11th amendment" immunity. Only states and "arms of the states."

John Lynch said...

Does this fit into the "Althouse rule of ugliness?"

John Lynch said...

This makes me think of the "God watch over our troops" mural from yesterday. Was that graffiti?

ravenshrike said...

Anti-police? No. Anti-remote surveillance? Abso-fucking-lutely. Camera surveillance does little to nothing to deter crime, it just moves it away from the cameras so that the main thoroughfares(where the cameras inevitably tend to be mounted) of a neighborhood can be shown as 'nicer' and so the police can squirrel away money while at the same time claim to be 'doing something' about the gang problem.

ravenshrike said...

Anti-police? No. Anti-remote surveillance? Abso-fucking-lutely. Camera surveillance does little to nothing to deter crime, it just moves it away from the cameras so that the main thoroughfares(where the cameras inevitably tend to be mounted) of a neighborhood can be shown as 'nicer' and so the police can squirrel away money while at the same time claim to be 'doing something' about the gang problem.

ravenshrike said...

Anti-police? No. Anti-remote surveillance? Abso-fucking-lutely. Camera surveillance does little to nothing to deter crime, it just moves it away from the cameras so that the main thoroughfares(where the cameras inevitably tend to be mounted) of a neighborhood can be shown as 'nicer' and so the police can squirrel away money while at the same time claim to be 'doing something' about the gang problem.

ravenshrike said...

Ah crap, delete the duplicates please.

Jeremy said...

Big Mike somehow intertwines this...with Obama?

Pretty weak.