An interactive piece of street art caused the hours-long suspicious package investigation that closed 15th Street NW between K and M streets NW yesterday afternoon, according to D.C. Police.
Authorities said a bystander saw a person “placing wiring in a box” on the 1000 block of 15th Street NW and called police at 2:41 p.m. An officer searched the area and apparently found the street art — a mess of wires with a sign instructing viewers to “play with me” — triggering the suspicious package investigation.
(SPOILER ALERT: Click here to view the unblurred version of the above photo.)
Some street artists are neighborhood beautifiers. Others are provocateurs. And some — like the people behind the Gare, Voyer, and Crot graffiti tags — apparently like to spoil movies from time to time.
A Borderstan reader spotted this “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” spoiler spray painted on a discarded box spring in Shaw yesterday morning.
“It was along the Q Street bike lane just east of 7th Street,” the reader told us in an e-mail. “I rode past it and had to go back to make sure I saw what I thought I saw.”
Though little is known about the artists behind these tags, their names can be seen spray painted on walls and stuck to street signs and light poles across the area. According to local curiosity catalogue Stuck in D.C., “Gare and Voyer are two different taggers in the same crew,” and Crot is a ubiquitous artist who also goes by the handle C-ROT and Crotch Rot.
Photo courtesy of kken
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.
By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.
So much of the local news focuses on various problems — budget shortfalls, corruption, delays and systemic breakdowns. So it is worth the five minutes of your time to check out this Washington Post piece on the “Before I die” chalkboard art project in Logan Circle (get more info on their DC project website.)
Better yet, head over to the northwest corner of 14th and Q Streets NW and check it out yourself. It’s on a wooden construction wall around the old Italian Shirt Laundry, which is in the process of becoming a French Bistro.
The chalkboard is now filled (overflowing, in fact — chalk wishes now spill over from board to wall) with the funny, sweet, sad, uplifting and trivial wishes of your neighbors. They want to fall in love, travel, be happy, give back to others… and bathe in an ocean of buttermilk. Yep, you read that right.
The chalkboard came to DC out of a man’s desire to pay tribute to his grandmother through a giving circle, a local resident who wanted to create something uplifting and an artist who originated the concept in New Orleans.
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.
Construction banners just went up at the long vacant lot at the southwest corner of 14th and R Streets NW. A spokesperson at Ellisdale Construction confirmed that construction of a 31-unit condominium project would begin around May 15. The property is currently a parking lot and was once a Zipcar location.
A check of D.C. property records shows that the owner of the property is Loford LLC. Back in February DC Mud reported on another property owned by Loford at 11th and V Streets NW that is being developed by Habte Sequar.
Sequar is also the developer behind The Josephine at 440 Rhode Island Avenue NW and Renaissnace @ Logan at 1618 11th Street NW.
The 14th and R property has had a number of owners and false starts over the years. At one time Robertson Development was going to develop the property. Robertson was behind the Visio, Woodson Row and Beauregard projects, all along the U Street corridor.
Just a block north of the property at 14th and S, developer JBG and Grosvenor broke ground two weeks ago for the District Condos project.
Of course many in the neighborhood will miss the love-it/hate-it mural on the side wall of the auto body shop adjacent to the vacant lot. A few years ago the mural was the subject of of an article by Washington Post art critic Blake Gopnik.