I’ll start with this afternoon’s post with some background. The Portsmouth Museum of Art has curated an exhibit currently on display in the museum and on some of the exterior walls of buildings/etc. around the city. If you’re a local, you know that this has become quite the hot button and topic of conversation among people throughout the city.
With the acceleration of the story and the press, the Union Leader posted a story on its front page about how some locals were highly offended. I am perfectly aware that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and actually love that the exhibit has some people so upset. As an artist myself, I welcome the controversy and the dialogue.
When I was heading to Dos Amigos for lunch yesterday, I saw a reporter and cameraman poised on the corner opposite the “Tomorrowman” piece on the Marple & James building. The streets were mostly empty, so when heading in their direction, they began to come up with their pitch – which I turned down 3 times before finally agreeing to comment on camera. I shared what was probably a 3-4 minute thought, which included how I thought it’s been great for the town despite some people taking issue with the historic buildings getting a makeover, and how the artistic community has been engaged on a broader level (not to mention that the exhibit has brought Portsmouth additional awareness from artists around the world).
Of my (what I thought was) thoughtful response, they chose one sound bite – one that helped further their agenda of airing a controversial piece – which was that I wouldn’t have my house painted with street art. Of course I wouldn’t, I don’t live downtown, I live in a purely residential area without retail uses or pedestrians other than my dog walking neighbors. That didn’t matter – they wanted to show people taking digs at the artwork and at the museum. It’s really unfortunate, because it’s what I had expected to happen and why I turned it down several times. I thought that if I opined, I might actually bring some positive light to the story – but sadly, Karen Anderson of WBZ-TV proved me wrong. As a supporter of the Portsmouth Museum of Art, I’m deeply disappointed in WBZ, but thrilled the conversation continues.