November 18, 2012

Free Hamilton

Did anybody else this notice this?
 I don't think it existed for any longer than couple of days.

Designed and painted to further enrich the corner of Colbourne and James with the grit of Detroit for a RoboCop setting.  The mural was more than just a backdrop for a movie set, it proved to be an interesting addition as an authentic looking vandalized wall created of fictional tags and bombing foreign to Hamilton's street art community.  It goes to say that regardless of taste, if you have the money and permission for a mural, anything goes.  Even if it looks like it was peeled off the dilapidated backside of a distant city.  The mural's lifespan was short, as it was blasted from its surface only days after it was painted.  Like any other artistic contribution to the city, this mural required a great deal of time and expertise, which made me wonder... what would it take for the community to embrace this?

I assume a collaboration of the city's broken window paranoia syndrome and the community's patriotic displeasure of having a piece of Motown on their favourite part of James Street could have only resulted in a quick ending.  However, picturing a circumstance in the which the mural might have been allowed to stay wouldn't be that hard, but it would have had to adhere to a lot of demands.  I can just imagine the higher echelons high-fiving over an agreement to cover the word Detroit with Hamilton and coordinating the local schools to contribute their anti-bullying awareness campaigns as a series of brightly painted silhouettes of children holding hands or painted plywood scraps cut out in the shapes of fish.

A shockingly realistic mural of illegal graffiti could help open the dialogue about aesthetics, boundaries and censorship in our culture.  The majority of permitted graffiti murals are very carefully curated and never accurately represent the roots of the discipline.  An approved mural of vandalism, could perhaps be the avant-garde pylon that Hamilton has been waiting for, smack dab in the centre of the art crawl too!

All artistic criticism aside, keeping a mural of this sort as a token of the film industry's hard work and growing precedence in our community can be thought of as a souvenir.  The development of a city with the quirky odds and ends of Hollywood props scattered about could prove itself to be great treasure hunt for tourists.

When it all comes down to it, the fate of the Free Detroit mural would ultimately have been between the property owner and production company, and I imagine it would not be in the best interests of either to keep it, but I think it has allowed us the opportunity to see the versatility of our walls.  As building owners shuffle and gentrification begins to set in, Hamilton will soon house an expansive array of mural venues, and the creditability of Hamilton's emerging art scene will likely rest on the first impressions of its art in the public view. 

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