early friday morning (08/06) i read a tweet about shepard fairey's hillcrest mural having been "defaced" overnight. because we had spent time there last weekend and had loved it so much - f included - i felt shock and sadness when i read the news. (apparently my shock indicated i "don't get" street art, according to one local woman AND the museum of contemporary art itself - more on that later) but silly me, i was surprised and bummed. i went out of my way to drive by it on my way to work, took pictures, talked to the property manager who was out there filming the damage (blue paint had splattered all over her tenants' cars), and then i posted the pictures on twitter when i got to work.
a woman named kelly who works for a local weekly paper tweeted, after i posted the photos with the words "unbelievable!" and "so awful" in my tweets, that basically anyone who was surprised that his mural was tagged "doesn't get street art" - and her statement was then retweeted BY THE MUSEUM ITSELF. because i don't follow her on twitter but i do follow the museum, i saw their retweet, and honestly? i was floored that a museum would tell people how they were "supposed" to react to the mural being painted over, and flat out endorsed the thought that if people didn't have the "right" reaction - i.e. a neutral, unsurprised one - we "don't get it".
really? see, because in my obviously very limited, uneducated understanding of art - and this may sound ridiculous - but i thought there was never a "right" or "wrong" reaction, to the art itself and then to it being painted over in a pretty messy & awful way. same for music, or any other kind of art for that matter - anyone's interpretation of art is so personal - who's to tell anyone what their reaction to seeing art they like being defaced should be? the museum, apparently... at least whoever is writing their twitter feed, which of course represents the museum itself. they said if anyone was surprised, that person just "didn't get it". so, should only people who "get it" go see the art? develop feelings about it? go to the museum itself? i felt really stung by that, that basically i was being told by this woman, and then by the museum itself by their retweeting of her message, that my surprise - my reaction - to seeing a piece of public art defaced/tagged/whatever the people who "get it" call it - was WRONG. shame on me! i should just stay away from art, shouldn't i?
an hour or so later, the co-curator of the exhibition was interviewed by KPBS and seemed to have a different take on it. and today i learned that the mural was covered in some sort of coating that makes washing off graffiti easy, and that the museum is in the process of cleaning it up today. which makes me feel happy, whether or not that's the "right" way to feel about it. oh well.