Category Archives: Art

#smallspaces Downtown #greaterlala Art Project Critics Strike Again

I awoke this morning to read Dave Bangert’s wonderful piece (Bangert: Critical mass for graffiti project?) on the latest round of criticism and censorship for a work that is part of Zach Medler’s #smallspaces art project in Downtown Lafayette.

This time, it concerns a zombie piece, created by an MFA student at Purdue, Sagan Newham, on the side of a building near 5th and Ferry streets.

This painting by Sagan Newham on the side of Haywood Printing, Fifth and Ferry streets, brought some complaints about the “small spaces: Lafayette” public art project. According to the project curator, the piece will stay up until Halloween and then be replaced. (Photo: Dave Bangert/Journal & Courier)
Photo: Dave Bangert/Journal & Courier

I am curious. Since the City of Lafayette is reacting in such a way with public art, how does this affect other public space type projects?  How does the City respond to a building development proposal based on aesthetics?  What about other public art pieces?  Parks?  Landscape designs?

Tom Shafer had some good ideas discussing public space and its inclusion in our daily life:

“If the work was in a gallery, the public could decide whether or not to look it. Medler’s concept is that if the people see public works of art every day, then the art becomes a part of their life,” Shafer said.

“When the city bought into this without subject matter and expertise guidelines, they ran the risk of underdeveloped concepts and subject matter that the general public cannot appreciate. Is some of the work poorly done? Yes. Is some of the work exceptional? Yes.”

Again, how would Tom’s criticism look if we were discussing buildings, businesses, parks, etc?

One aspect of #smallspaces that softens these types of criticisms is that if nothing else, they will be re-evaluated in two years.  A building, park, landscape design is a bit more permanent.

This reminds me of a conversation we had during the State Street Master Planning process regarding public art:  How do we include a sunset clause for public art?  Not everything deserves a permanent home or can last for decades.  What seems appropriate and inspiring today, may be insulting or dull in a few years.  What processes exist to remove public art in our current City code?

For now, I ask us to consider the same concepts, and more, when we are evaluating other long term and highly impactful aspects in our urban life.

At least in Lafayette, one or two people can have a major influence over what stays up, gets censored, moved, etc.  Let’s hope the same magnitude of citizen power can be yielded in other public arenas that are just as significant.

Highlights from Chicago Zinefest 2014: #21 Minus @MCA (nametag stickers)

Chicago Zinefest 2014

I returned a couple of days ago from the 2014 Chicago Zinefest. The experience was fulfilling in a multitude of ways. Anne and I enjoyed the familiar and had adventures.

We were able to spend time with my sister Nichole, her friend from Canada, Jessica, our mutual friend Bridget, and on several occasions, we were also able to connect with some old colleagues of Nichole’s we had met on previous visits.

The mixing of minds through communication was the most engaging component to the Saturday. Sneaker and spiked hair social networking. Some nearby tablers were keeping track of what back patches said. Distinguished by denim and leather.

We are waiting for the publication of that data.

Highlights from Chicago Zinefest 2014 is an incomprehensive list of people and ideas that I was able to remember.

#21 Minus

While at Chicago Zinefest, there are varied types of interactions with the eagle eyes from the streets. Some people never make eye contact, others won’t leave your table. Some blow by and give you a zine, or flyer, or pin, or other such media.


I was given the opportunity to thumb through a collection of 6 or so hand drawn nametag stickers. I chose the one above. This is the back of the individual sticker.


I really like the thin lines that define the space. A short play is hidden within this context. Let’s scene paint, shall we.

Two friends, sitting outside at a cafe while an early Spring sunset is drifting into the horizon. Only a sliver can be seen from their hard wire seats due to towering buildings and fences obstructing their view. They are safe. Breathing alternate breaths, trying to look past the other. Verbal silence.