There has been a roiling debate over the fate of a controversial mural on the city’s southend.
Last week, the council took action, sort of, by directing Community & Economic Development Director Jason Friedmann to either repair or replace the mural.
The mural was vandalized recently when someone splattered paint over part of it.
There has been protest by some in the community to have this mural removed because it contains an image of six cartoon characters carrying a casket. Painted on the front of the casket is a nameplate that says: “STREET ART.”
Apparently it is a statement by the artist, known by the pseudonym of “Sever,” about the commercialization of street art.
Some in town, however, view it has a statement about Hamtramck, namely that the community is dead.
For most in the community, the artist’s statement is obscure at best. And yes, an image of a casket can be viewed as a negative.
But to heed the calls to have this painted over is foolish.
Because it smacks of mob rule.
This mural was created by an internationally-known street artist. Hamtramck was very fortunate this past summer to be the epicenter of several street murals being created by folks from all around the world.
They are legitimate pieces of art, and they have been attracting visitors left and right.
Instead of rushing to remove the mural in question, let’s all take a step back, take a breather and let some time go by.
It reminds us of the situation that another famed muralist faced many years ago when he revealed several of his pieces. Diego Rivera was both praised and condemned for his many works of art.
Locally, he is famously known for creating the wonderful mural in the DIA courtyard. At one time, there was serious talk of removing that mural because of some of the subject matter included in that sprawling piece.
That wasn’t the case for another one of Rivera’s works. A mural that was created in the Rockefeller Center was destroyed after completion because of its Marxist politics.
Now, we’re not suggesting that the mural coming under fire here in Hamtramck reaches Rivera’s level of mastery, but the principle remains the same.
Let’s not rush to judgment. Let time and history be the judge of things.
You never know, this work could one day be considered a masterpiece in its own right. It would be wrong to deny history a chance to decide.