'Moral Assault.' Photo: PtD.
FIELD NOTES: A new mural by street artist Izaac Zevalking, the social-political operative behind the brand Recycled Propaganda, continues his crafted commentary that uses pop-culture references.
This one is loaded. Titled “Moral Assault,” the large-scale stencil work uses the Morton Salt logo, known in the canon of corporate marketing as the Umbrella Girl.
Visible from the sidewalk on East Colorado just east of South Main Street, the icons of innocence are set against the blue field and repeated as a trio, so the stepping forward is now a synchronized march of defiance. The piece states protection from the elements is no longer hiding under an umbrella, but raising a fist in clenched protest. With the gesture of head facing down, the hand in the air kindles the moment when gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos wore black gloves. They raised their fists in a Black Power salute when the national anthem was played during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
What are the three salt girls protesting? That’s not clear. Is it something from the current White House that questions a moral choice via Tweet or policy action? The title also hints that sexual assault is the topic. It could be anything. During these times seeking something to speak out on is not hard. In this reign, it pours.
Will Rogers Monument"August 10, 2017, San Bernardino, California Theatre. Photo: Ed Fuentes
Field Note: As the sun's light was hitting the golden hour I was near one of my favorite pieces, "Will Rogers Monument" (1998-1999) by Kent Twitchell. It is made of two portraitures; the east side shows Rogers in his performance years: the image of a cowboy looking back with wise eyes. On the west side Twitchell captured Rogers’ mischief as a political commentator. He has been quoted to have said "I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat" and "There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you." Imagine the witticisms from Rogers that would inspired by today’s political climate.
I found out details about the mural itself for a 2012 post at KCET:
The two murals, titled "Will Rogers Monument," were profiled in the San Bernardino Sun and stated that not only did the humorist make several appearances in the inland region, his last live performance was at the California Theatre was June 28, 1935. Rogers and his friend, aviator Wiley Post, died six weeks later when their plane crashed in Alaska.
"Will Rogers Monument" is on two sides of the California Theatre, located at 562 West 4th Street, in San Bernardino, California.
"Lady of Maryland Parkway" by ZAP 7 artist Lance Smith was painted over. Photos: Paint This Desert.
This isn't random vandalism. It’s deliberate censorship.
Public art on South Maryland Parkway has been vandalized and it’s not the usual suspects. There are no signs of territorial tagging. The boxes were painted over in an official-looking beige to whitewash an idea.
“It's shameful that someone decided to vandalize this public art,” says Chris Giunchigliani, Clark County Commissioner. “This piece was lovely and it wasn't tagged, it was completely painted over which shows someone personally didn't want it to be seen by the public.”
While the beige appears to match the original color of the utility box, the whitewash was not “done by the County or the box owner the Las Vegas Valley Water District,” said Michael Ogilvie, Public Art Cultural Specialist for Clark County. “It is an act of vandalism and a police report has been filed.” The investigation is still underway.
During the planning stages of ZAP 7, the Clark County Parks and Recreation funded public art program, an undisclosed business owner protested the design's use of a black figure, according to several sources. Clark County organizers supported Smith's concept, titled “Lady of Maryland Parkway.”
There was a message in this ZAP 7 public art commission, says artist Lance Smith. “Representation. I see it as imperative for people of color to see some semblance of themselves represented in the everyday.” There are still traces of left behind. Near the edges and door handles are traces of blues used by the artist. On a smaller box a painted perched bird is untouched.
ZAP 7 organizers will begin restoring the public art Friday.
ADD JUNE 16: "Business owner denies involvement in painting over Zap Project artwork" is the compelling headline in the Las Vegas Review Journal. F. Andrew Taylor reports:
The whitewash would not likely wouldn’t be prosecuted as graffiti, reports Taylor, "but as a gross misdemeanor for destruction of private property." Klein has been interviewed by The Metropolitan Police Department.
ANOTHER ADD JUNE 16: This whitewash of Lance Smith's mural was without a 90 day notice. which brings attention to how these works, as part of a public art initiative, may be protected by The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990. They were commissioned with the intent of being public art, and the series of works have gained regional stature, destruction could be more than a misdemeanor.
ADD JUNE 22: KNPR interviews Lance Smith on the first day of the restoration of his public art. You can listen to it at KNPR.
Zap is a public art initiative that began in 2005 and is dedicated to beautifying the community with artwork done by local artists. A police report has been filed, and work will begin soon to restore the mural. If you have information that could identify the vandal or vandals, call Crime Stoppers of Nevada at (702) 385-5555. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward if the information provided leads to a felony conviction. Graffiti costs the County $1.6 million a year.
Source: Clark County, Nevada.
Above: "Blue Angel: Between Heaven and Earth" at The Neon Museum's Ne10studio.