Amy Roberts: Public art vandalism
January 7, 2014
Perhaps I’m not sophisticated enough, or haven’t reached a designated income tier, but I don’t really have an eye for art. It’s just never been that appealing to me. I’ve been to celebrated museums all over the world, hoping to spark some type interest, but I always end up spending more time in the gift shop than looking at the masterpieces noted in my guidebooks. Picasso? Michelangelo? Da Vinci? I could just as easily mistake them for luxury car brands at first thought.
A few years ago I went to Paris with a friend. I was in and out of the Louvre in 15 minutes. I would have been much quicker, but the line for tickets was a tad long. My friend spent the entire day inside the famed museum, while I wandered around the city. When we met back at the hotel later that night, I was dumbfounded when he said he wanted to go back again the following day because there was so much more to see and appreciate. I had literally sprinted in, snapped a picture of the Mona Lisa and left to find a bakery.
Sadly, as I’ve aged, my appreciation level has not changed much. Even now, no real paintings adorn the walls in my house. Instead of grown-up art, my walls boast several framed photos of my dogs. So on the off chance they one day decide to go into another room without me, I’ll be able to remember what they look like.
With that background, I’m probably one of the least qualified people to write a column about artwork and what constitutes a noteworthy piece. But at least I can appreciate that I wish I could appreciate art more. At least I know art would probably add something positive to my life if I could figure out a way to let it. And at the very least, I’m not about to ruin someone else’s attempt at it.
The big story making news this week was the two pieces of art created by the famous graffiti artist Banksy which were recently vandalized. Both had protective casings that were smashed, and one of the pieces was spray painted over.
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While some argue the original graffiti pieces, created by Banksy during the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, are, by definition, vandalism, most seem to be disheartened, even outraged, someone would destroy public art. After all, it’s not like someone vandalized a 2nd grader’s macaroni art project that happened to be hanging on Main Street. Banksy is a world-famous graffiti artist. Most people, including Parkites, in fact, especially Parkites, consider it a privilege to have him leave his mark on our town.
There are those who say the town is overreacting and that graffiti is not supposed to be permanent. They say we’re not qualified to suggest Banksy graffiti is more valuable than the dolt’s who spay-painted over it last week. But here’s the thing: they’re wrong.
They’re wrong to flippantly wave their hand as if vandalizing a business is perfectly acceptable — because, hey, after all, it was technically already vandalized by Banksy. The fact is, if the building owners where the Banksy pieces were created didn’t take pride in their buildings being home to his work, they wouldn’t have gone to such extreme and expensive measures to protect it. They would have painted over his work four years ago and would not have proudly preserved it for residents and visitors to enjoy. It meant something to them, and forgive my ignorance, but isn’t that what really defines art? What someone takes away from it?
Perhaps the pieces aren’t intended to be permanent. But that should be decided by the building’s owner and future owners, maybe even the artist. A disrespectful jack wagon with a can of spray paint and a sledgehammer has no say in that discussion.
To say people are overreacting is insulting. I’m happy to live in a town where the majority of residents are upset public art was maliciously destroyed.
I’m not a Banksy groupie. I had never even heard of him before these paintings arrived one night and the whole town was abuzz. And while I might not fully appreciate his (or anyone’s) artwork, I do find it offensive there are people trivializing the vandalism of it.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.
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