This weeks burning Weinland Park question is whether to finish the mural on 11th Avenue and Grant located on the side of the Rice Paddy. The mural was started in 1997 but never finished and has since then has just kind of languished. Apparently, it needs a history of Weinland Park and some other minor touches and it’s a fait accompli.

But, since,somehow, the bee was planted in someones bonnet to finish it the mural has become a hot topic of neighborhood conversation. And nothing there’s like art to get the conversation started. The mural shows a thriving urban neighborhood with the National Register Felix Jacobs House on Hamlet. But, in a bit of historical revisionism, all the people in the mural are African American whereas Weinland Park has always been an integrated neighborhood. The mural, if your local blogger understands it correctly, seems to have been driven by the Schoenbaum Center. So, is the mural actually how outsiders see the neighborhood or is it the part that is most advantageous for a social service entity to see? And this is pretty common that the entire neighborhood, which doesn’t fit into a nice category, gets broken down into a subset and pigeonholed. If that’s the case, then we have a bit of history here, although the attitude continues to this day.

As always there are way more questions than answers. So, does it represent Weinland Park? Is this the iconography of a diverse, inclusive neighborhood? Should a mural represent Weinland Park? And is it neighborhood political suicide to have an opinion about it while the neighborhood is being revitalized and not everyone is happy about said revitalization? After all, if you vote against the mural because you don’t like Cerulean blue and you’re white it’s going to be pretty easy to be colored a racist or at least a gentrifier. And that’s not going to help bring everyone together. It’s mural as minefield. And there is the aesthetic/art quality debate.* The mural is the gateway to Weinland Park (part of the Short North) and The Ohio State University so is there some quality standard to uphold?**  After all, someone who lived in Weinland Park was in the Venice Biennale. We have an artistic tradition to uphold here folks.

It’s always so complicated in Weinland Park. Consequently, the debate about what to do with it.

If you live in Weinland Park and have an opinion feel free to express it at the:

ART TABLE (formerly Artists Roundtable) meeting re: WP murals (and other potential community-base art projects) this coming Tuesday April 24th at Godman Guild 6:30-7:30PM in prep for the WPCCA meeting April 25th where Jean will be presenting and gathering more community input on whether this mural should be finished (or not). Please join us and share your thoughts!


And therefore it’s time for another Weinland Park blog kind- of-not-so tongue-in-cheek poll. Vote and leave a comment!

*Your cynical but art-loving local blogger cringes at its child-like rendering but realizes that everyone can’t like everything and that your local blogger (like art critic Jerry Saltz) thinks that 99% of public art is pure shit and therefore may never be happy.

**There will be no OSU football/Brutus Buckeye mural. No way.