On Facebook: The Beige-ing controversy

07/18/2014 12:00 AM

07/15/2014 4:27 PM

You can read and comment on more local news on my Facebook page.

The painting over of the Eno River mural on Morris Street sparked a conversation this week. Here is a comment I posted Tuesday morning with a link to staff writer Jim Wise’s story ( bit.ly/1r18swO).

Coming tomorrow in The Durham News: Last year Chapel Hill’s Lantern restaurant owner raised ire when she painted over one of Michael Brown’s signature Franklin Street murals (the wall is now black). Now the new owner of Durham’s Penny Furniture building has raised a similar outcry with the painting over of artist Emily Weinstein’s longstanding Eno River mural.

Here is what some of you said:

Mary Parker Sonis: They restored the wall to it’s original “funeral home” beige? Really??

Stacie Nagy: I read the (owner’s) non-apology. Not buying it. How hard would it be to have asked for a retouch of the painting? What about commissioning a new one?

Kate Dobbs Ariail: The ugly beige non-color is the crowning insult. I have to look at that every day. They must have gotten a COA for that. Have the Caryites taken over in D-town?

Gabriele Pelli: Because things were so much better in 1910.

Mark Schultz: What about property rights? Granted, some advance notice might have been warranted. But shouldn’t an owner have the right to use their property as they want? (Note: If we get enough responses we’ll try to print a thread in Sunday’s Durham News. Reader may also send a letter of up to 300 words to editor@newsobserver.com. Thanks)

Mary Parker Sonis: Absolutely Mark, but it wasn’t a wise move. People do value art, and this is not the way to make friends in the community.

Kate Dobbs Ariail: As I understand it, they actually did give advance notice, via the public meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission. However, local coverage being what it is, that did not get a lot of play. And I agree, that if the artwork was not protected by covenant on the deed, the owner can do what he likes, within the restrictions of city rules. This is exactly where “the moral rights of artists” gets interesting – some would argue that the artwork is protected merely by its existence, even on private property. HOWEVER, by painting over the artwork, the owner is loudly yelling: “This didn’t matter, this was not important, this was not good enough to preserve as a unique physical aspect of downtown Durham.” That was, at best, thoughtless of others’ feelings, and naturally it feels insulting to people who made, funded and loved the richly colored river scene. I had seen the building immediately after the windows went in on that side, and thought--great, they didn’t have to destroy the mural. But then came the beige.

Suzanne Haff: I love the murals and art around these towns but firmly believe the owners have the right to do as they please with their property.

April Grossman: I don’t see a win-win in this for anyone. It took Emily six months to complete this mural. It’s a real tragedy. Not to play the sympathy factor, but she’s a dear friend and is also recovering from open heart surgery during all this brouhaha. The Lantern situation was a real disappointment to me as a Chapel Hill resident. What are these people thinking?

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