I understand that some people believe the artwork in question is in violation of some historic district code. I’d like to see someone dig that particular code up, these people are always complaining about code violations, so much so that I’m almost certain half of them are made up anyway (well they are, aren’t they? Someone made them, and I’m a little curious concerning their qualifications for making such decisions. I know there’s never accounting for taste- obviously.)
But seriously folks.
I understand the want and need to preserve Somersworth’s rich history, I’m sure all friends of Somersworth do, but we must admit that Somersworth has a long history of forgetting it’s own history, especially in relation to it’s historic buildings. I mean seriously, look around the historic district, certainly there are those that love and cherish the place, though I wouldn’t say it’s because they’re deeply invested in the history of it all, but there are “For Sale” signs everywhere, there are eye sores all over the place. No one wants to move to historic Somersworth, no one knows anything about Somersworth history, and no one cares, quite honestly. People want a nice place to live, they want to be able to walk around in a nice area, raise their kids in a safe place. Sure you can find that in Somersworth, sure you might move there, and someone might even tell you “oh this building was built in 1897 and the owner of the mill lived here” and you’ll think, “oh, that’s nice” and you’ll tell people when you invite them over, but that fact still won’t mean diddly squat, because it’s not the house you care about- it’s the home.
That said, I firmly believe this to be a first amendment issue. It isn’t really free speech if it can only exist in convenient spaces at convenient times. As we’ve seen with the OccupyMovement, if you’ve been following it, the police will inform protesters time and time again, that there is a time and a place for protest. “Do you have a permit to protest?” “No you cannot be in the streets.” “No, you cannot enter this street, you must use the other street where we have carefully cordoned off traffic so you can go on your way without disrupting people” “You must protest in our way, or you will not protest at all” “You can’t be here after 10pm.” “You can’t protest there before 11am” Public art is a form of free speech. Graffiti has long been a controversial artform and looked down upon from nearly all communities. But in the last decade or so more and more cities are beginning to embrace it. They realize that not only do people need to express themselves but people need to be enriched by art, everyday and everywhere. Street Art is becoming the fastest growing trend in the art world, what once was looked down upon has become priceless masterpieces (Just look at Banksy for chrissake!). To tear down, paint over or erase public art is to destroy a vital message from artist to audience. Consider for a moment the message that this work carries with it. In some ways the message is complex, it is springing out in a hundred different forms and styles throughout the painting, in a very real sense it is chaotic. And yet why does the work of the likes Jackson Pollack and other abstract artists move us so- when we find ourselves gazing at something that can only be described as chaos. There is a deeper message in this painting, and one that any viewer could gather from but a single view if they have only the curiosity to ask a few simple questions: who? how? why?
A community made this, together, with what little materials were available to them, to commemorate, to celebrate and to unify in a single work what it means to be a part of this community. It was fun, it was engaging, it was thought-provoking and it was inspiring- and if you can’t see that, then maybe you don’t belong here. This is a message about what this community has been, what it is, and what it will become. This is the True Mural of Somersworth’s Proud Past, Bright Future. And if you can’t see that maybe you better get them peepers checked out ’cause the future is about to give you a swift kick in the pants.
So until I see some documentation concerning exactly what code this violates (and even then I say to hell with codes) and the complainer’s degree in Art History (transcript included Mr. Complainer!) I say to hell with his opinion, and anyone else’s opinion if they don’t like it.
Private Property, Live Free or Die. Nuff Said.