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Deuce 7 Mural at Cult Status Gallery

6 Apr

Mural Detail- Photo via Cult Status Website

The destruction of art is bound to create a buzz, and the Cult Status Gallery might just reach that, based on the reaction to the martyrdom of the fresh Deuce 7 mural on their outer wall. The newly formed gallery makes it’s home at 2913 Harriet Avenue South in the LynLake area and just opened its doors this winter. In celebration of the opening, Cult Status got ahold of street/graffiti artist Deuce 7 (who has shown locally at SooVAC and been celebrated in New York) to paint a mural. With the apparent blessing of their landlord, painting began on March 10th, and was a big step up from what had been outside of the building; in conversation, gallery honcho Erin Sayer noted that, “before…it was disgusting, it was just this gross garage where they kept all their stuff,” and in a blog post on the controversy, says that the outside had been graffitied with anti-Obama and pro-gun epithets. Not your family-friendly fare for South Minneapolis, nor something really to be proud of.

Quickly into the painting process, though, Sayer received a worried phone call from her landlord, expressing surprise that the mural used so much color. The landlord had been expecting Sayer to be painting one of her own two-tone silhouette works on the outside wall and expressed concern about the progress of the mural. Sayer convinced her landlord to let them finish the mural and appeared to have the support of the other tenants in the building as well as neighborhood residents. When Cult Status held an opening on March 30th, Sayer noted that the new neighbors came over, some bearing cookies. Things seemed to be going well.

Photo by Matt Porath via Facebook

Then on April 2nd, Sayer received a call from her landlord informing her that one of the tenants was uncomfortable with the mural, to the point of threatening to move out. In lieu of losing the business, the landlord decreed that the mural had to be painted over, and initially slated Wednesday the 7th as the destruction date. Unwilling to reveal which of the tenants was offended by the mural Sayer set about to try and convince the other tenants that the work was worth preserving. As she said over the phone, “it’s not even offensive material. It’s totally benign, it’s like Chagall. I think that’s the only reason that they don’t like it, because it’s graffiti-style, even though it’s the best graffiti you’ll ever see.”

A Facebook post unleashed an outpouring of support and so far, Sayer says that 2 of the 3 other tenants, Shelter Architecture + Design and the Healing Garage seem to be on board with the mural, and they have been granted a stay of execution in order to meet on Wednesday the 7th at noon to discuss the fate of the painting. If all does not go well, this weekend is going to be a sad day for art in the Twin Cities, but Sayer says they’ll make the best of it, with full documentation of the event, and an open invitation to come down and support the art/protest the cover up. Hopefully, though Deuce 7’s art will be allowed to stay in it’s street context where it functions more subversively and powerfully than in a reduced gallery setting.

There are, of course, take-away lessons here. Should Cult Status had been more clear about their intentions for the mural? Yes. Should the landlord have been more clear about his expectations for the mural? Yes. Should there have been more communication with the other tenants about the mural? Probably.

However, we live in an age where so much of our publicly viewed space is mediated by private ownership, to the point of mass disempowerment, that if there is not privately sanctioned public art, all you are going to be left with are crass tags and puerile spray-painted phrases. Paintings on public walls like Cult Status’ Deuce 7 mural can mitigate that destructive impulse associated in the public’s mind with graffiti by creating personality and ownership to counteract the bland, sterile inoffensiveness of latter day America. Sayer said it over the phone; “I think mainly [this is] just the age old discussion of what is graffiti and why is it all bad. I think the public’s thoughts about graffiti need to change. It has such a bad connotation with so many people. It’s been going on for thirty years and its just never going to end, it’s going to keep growing. I think this movement is our defining art movement of this generation.” Here’s to fighting the good fight.

Photo by Matt Porath via Facebook

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by CakeIn15: The fate of the Deuce 7 mural outside the Cult Status Gallery to be decided at noon today. Viva Art! http://tinyurl.com/ydesayk

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