Big Empty Walls

Side of the Hotel de la Montagne - work of the author, June 17th 2011

I remember seeing pictures from Tehran when I was a kid – it may have been on CNN and may have been related to the Iran-Contra scandal, or the USS Vincennes accidental shoot-down of an air-liner, or the Tanker War or god knows what, but an image got stuck in my head. For the life of me I haven’t been able to find an image of what I’m talking about. I remember a mural painted on the side of a building, and from the looks of it, it was impressively large. It was an American flag, though turned on it’s side, with skulls for stars and bombs dropping from the stripes. I was impressed as a toddler and I can still picture it clearly in my head. In fact, every time I see a big empty concrete wall, I feel as though we the citizenry have a moral responsibility to fill it up with something beautiful, poignant or both. I don’t recommend anything overly anti-American mind you.

So here are some of my least favourite big empty walls.

I think this apt. tower is on Crescent - work of the author, June 17th 2011

I mean let’s face it – it’s nothing but a large slab of brown-grey concrete or beige/white brick. No decoration, not much of a discernible pattern. Just a vast open void, and there’s a plethora of such buildings littering the downtown core. You know what else is littering the downtown core? Advertisements and graffiti, and I’d prefer to see really well-done versions of both than the typically mundane versions which typically rob our visual attention.

I mean, when you take the whole of graffiti within the city, what’s the art-to-vandalism ratio? 1:100? 1:1000? Don’t tell me the guy that uses an ice-scraper to spell his initials on bus-shelter plexiglass is making an artistic statement, he’s costing the tax-payer (ie – all of us) money to get that fixed later. Now, that being said, when you go behind FouFounes Electriques and see the mind-blowing graffiti there, it makes me wonder why we can’t distribute it a bit better, offer grants and get legitimate artists working together to add vibrant splashes of colour to these drab facades.

I'd love to see the wall of this no-tell hotel celebrate the carnality common within. Work of the author, June 17th 2011

The point’s been brought up before as to whether the city can just up and do this – why not? Adding the art to the side of a building could get the owner some tax-break for stimulating the arts. I know there’s an apartment building on Towers Street in the Concordia Ghetto that features a pretty wild sculpture hanging off the side of the building, though who’d never know it was there unless you happened to spot the plaque at street level. I guess it just so happened that I was looking for plaques that day.

Anyways – as always, what do you think?

And by the by – congratulations to Leroy Audubon of South Marshfield New Hampshire for being our 2,000th guest.

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