Though many have agreed the Cosby mural needs to go, some criticized the pasted-on art as being unfair to the artist who painted the mural, Aniekan Udofia. During a “Kojo Nnamdi Show” interview earlier this week, Udofia said he was upset that the street artist affixed a grinning visage of Kim Jong Un over Cosby’s face, calling it “disrespectful.”
Smear Leader, the artist who defaced Udofia’s mural, told Washingtonian the art was a “success,” and that his aim was to generate discussion about Cosby’s place on the mural, not diss a respected local muralist.
But even some who loudly criticize the Cosby mural don’t agree with Smear Leader’s approach.
Devin Boyle, who wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post calling for the controversial mural to be painted over and launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to help fund a replacement work of art, said defacing the mural was “counterproductive” to bringing about change.
“At the end of the day, he is someone [the owners] have respected for so long,” said Boyle, a 30-year-old public relations professional who lives on U Street.
What do you think? Do you back the street artist who defaced the Cosby mural at Ben’s, or do you think the act was disrespectful to the muralist? Weigh in by voting in the poll and telling us what you think in the comments.
(Update at 5:44 p.m.: The Kim Jong Un face has been removed.)
The Bill Cosby mural at Ben’s Chili Bowl has been defaced. As in, literally.
A street artist going by the name “Smear Leader”affixed the grinning visage of Kim Jong Un on top of Cosby’s head some time within the past 24 hours. The artist took credit for the piece earlier today on Instagaram.
“Instead of looking at a sexual predator, people can celebrate in jubilation that the great leader is now on the their wall,” the post reads. “Eat sh-t Cosby.”
Why Kim Jong Un? As detailed in a recent interview with The Daily Beast, vandalizing things with Kim Jong Un’s face is kind of Smear Leader’s thing.
— Tim Regan (@MrTimRegan) September 19, 2015
We reached out to Smear Leader via e-mail earlier today. This afternoon, he responded:
“I drew the original piece but get them printed now due to the overwhelming demand for them on our site,” he said. “We have them posted all over the world from Australia, Kazakstan, South Korea, Russia, Brazil, you name it, the Leader is somewhere smiling.”
When asked whether he was afraid of being identified on the eatery’s security cameras, Smear Leader said, “as far as the security camera thing goes, I was aware of that but the fact that they still have that monster Cosby up on their mural is a risk worth taking.
Smear Leader continues: “It’s even more of an outrage that they have said nothing and distanced themselves from the situation that a man used his power to take advantage and sexually assault over 35 women. If you had a friend who did this, would you do the same thing?”
“Why Kim Jong Un?” he added. “The man is happily married with a beautiful daughter and works to make a better life for his people. Some may disagree but between the two of them in comparison to one another but it’s not even a debate. Cosby is Slime and as long as Ben’s allows his face to be up there, they don’t have the right to be upset at ANY criticism coming their way.”
A representative from Ben’s Chili Bowl was not available to comment.
Volunteers are being sought to help clean up graffiti along the lower part of Georgia Avenue NW.
Those interested should meet at Torrie’s Restaurant (700 V Street NW) next Saturday at 10 a.m. to pick up supplies and receive training.
Cleaners will then break into teams and remove graffiti at 18 businesses and public spaces in an area that stretches from the intersection of Georgia and Florida avenues NW to Georgia Avenue and Upshur Street NW.
Event organizer and economic development consultant Jon Stover says a power washer and 25 graffiti cleanup kits were purchased to aid with the project.
“We’re going to train community members on the appropriate process for removing graffiti,” says Stover. “There’s so many big large tags along Georgia Avenue. Having a power washer is a great tool to address that.”
Artistic graffiti and murals will not be removed during the cleanup, adds Stover.
“Right now, none of the graffiti [we’re targeting] can be construed as art,” adds Stover.
The effort, funded by a grant from the Department of Public Works, is meant in part to study the feasibility of a Main Street organization along Georgia Avenue. The idea goes that if the community can coalesce around certain issues, conditions may be right to start a Main Street organization.
If all goes well and a Georgia Avenue Main Street organization is founded, Stover says the goal is to make the cleanup a regular event.
“We’re hoping the community to take ownership of it and it will be up to the community to develop it themselves,” he says.
Image via Flickr/Perspective
The Langston Room at Busboys & Poets was filled to capacity for Tuesday night’s panel discussion: “The Art of Vandalism: A Close Up Look at Graffiti in DC.” The event brought together graffiti artists, art advocates and government representatives in charge of cleaning up graffiti. The purpose of the forum was to better understand graffiti art and find solutions to unwanted graffiti.
The evening also served as a launch for the MuralsDC 2011 program. The MuralsDC programs hopes to create lasting efforts to keep frequently tagged walls free of graffiti by creating owner-approved murals.
Nancee Lyons, D.C. Department of Public Works (DPW) and a panelist, noted the success of the program over the past few years. Of the 34 murals created over the life of the program only three or four have been tagged by graffiti after completion. In the Borderstan neighborhood we can see examples of MuralsDC efforts at 1344 U Street NW and 1507 9th Street NW. A map and brochure about the program shows that most of the murals created in the past are east of Rock Creek Park, with almost no mural projects in Wards 2, 3 or 4.