@CapViewBliss - I agree with you. The discourse needs to be there prior to the project commencing. And, yes, it does not have to be a voting process, but as you said, actual involvement on some level in the process would be ideal.
The street art movement has been around a long time and from what I understand the intent is to express the artist's personal statement and/or worldview while uplifting/beautifying the environment that hosts the work. Sometimes it has political/social undertones, sometimes not. Noble intention, normally. But, in a strange, albeit unintended way, the process of doing this emits small whiffs of elitism. To come into any community where one does not live and impose one's personal statement and/or worldview without consideration for those who will be living with it, suggests a lack of sensitivity and respect. And, ironically, this sentiment is often what fuels the creativity of some street artists, in the first place. The art of challenging the "powers that be" for imposing their beliefs/values/ideas without input from the masses.
Honestly, I don't think it would have mattered if it were a mural depicting a bed of roses. The mural would have been vandalized. Unless these communities are brought into the process of creating the art, there will be no ownership -- hence, no respect. It doesn't matter who owns the building. Who will be "living" with the mural? One cannot drop one's vision into a community without sharing that vision with the ones who will be most impacted. As an artist, I have come to this conclusion the hard way. I have seen many artists come into communities (myself included) and expect the residents to embrace their vision without even an explanation. I do not know what happened in the case of the Sawtell mural, but it happens often around Atlanta, around the country, around the world, all the time. It has happened to my own public art. I have learned that I MUST find a way to get the community involved. My vision needs to be shared with the people it will impact most before I break ground. There is always a chance of vandalism, regardless; but, at least, there will be a majority of people outraged if something happens to the work versus the other way around. This is the challenge of the artist: should an artist have to "educate" in order for their vision to be appreciated, understood, or at least, tolerated?
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