Does Greensboro even art?

by Britt Chester @awfullybrittish

Since April, the wall facing downtown Greensboro on the Daily Flour Mill was covered with a mural painted by The Art of Chase, a Los-Angelesbased artist brought to Greensboro by Create Your City. Ryan Saunders is the primary representative of Create Your City and worked hard to raise the funds to bring Art of Chase to the area for the project.

Saunders was able to get some great press on the project, from local publications to WFMY News 2, and everything looked like it was going well for the grassroots effort. Saunders spoke about bringing new culture to the city and supporting the arts – something he believes is lacking in the Triad. His view seems to be that embracing the traditional arts is one thing – there is no lack of theater, concerts, and galleries in the area, that’s for sure – but adapting to the changing world of art to include muralists, graffiti artists, and other contemporary mediums is something else entirely.

Saunders’ Create Your City succeeded in bringing out Chase, and the illustrative mural looking upon Greensboro with a blank stare seemed like a great fit for the wall.

Or so everyone thought – everyone except Duck Head Apparel, the business that resides on the other side of the wall where the mural was painted.

In the beginning of August the mural disappeared. No longer was there a blank stare looking at Greensboro – perhaps in confusion itself about the state of the art world in the Gate City – but instead a whitewashed wall.

And a lot of confused people, Saunders included.

Saunders reached out to YES! Weekly regarding the matter, and we reached out to Duck Head Apparel to get some answers. All we know is that Duck Head wants to paint their logo on the wall, which seems like an obvious use for the space given the company is undergoing somewhat of a rebranding as it moves into 2015.

So who is really at fault? Or, is anyone at fault?

Stepping back and looking at the situation from an outsider’s perspective, this isn’t a big deal. There are plenty of walls around the city that could use a good graffiti’n, and even more that could be painted blank to cover up years of dilapidation and disregard, but this wall just so happened to have been painted on by Art of Chase, someone who was paid to come to Greensboro for his talent. This wall seemed like the perfect spot for Create Your City to start adding to its catalog of projects.

This wall might have been able to change a few people’s views on public art projects. But instead it’s going to be a duck’s head to represent Duck Head Apparel. Marketing 101 says Duck Head is headed in the right direction.

Greensboro seems to enjoy living in controversy when it comes to art, though. No matter a public-funded piece or privately held wall, there always seems to be some problem or disaster surrounding the project, rather than the project inciting the problem, which is how art should be.

Why is that? Why can’t anyone in Greensboro just hold on to the idea that art will happen, rather than holding onto the hope that business will happen? The old textile days of Greensboro are long gone, fleeting bits being held onto by local designers and manufacturers.

Again, on the outside, the same went for Winston-Salem: A city built on tobacco money that has completely changed to house the Innovation Quarter, an institution housing a research facility, presumably to learn more about the harmful effects of smoking. Oh, and Wake Forest School of Medicine has offices and classrooms there.

Greensboro seems to spend all its time and money arguing over where to spend its time and money. Perhaps they should take a moment to stop and smell the roses, or at least stop and appreciate the blooming art projects. !