About a year after I painted it, around 2015, it was mistakenly included in a neighborhood turf war. A graffiti writer who has a beef with the bushwick collective went on a bombing spree and hit up a bunch of murals in the neighborhood. The spotlight he gained from doing so gave him an opportunity to air his grievances in the press. His perception is that they are promoting gentrification by bringing artists from outside of NYC to come in and paint slick looking murals that have little to nothing to do with the history of that neighborhood or the people that grew up there and are currently being priced out. I actually agree with this position. The problem is that real estate developers know that street art increases the value of their property and so they use artists as a way to stimulate the housing market. At the same time, the growing trend of advertisers using mural painting techniques blurs the line between advertising and street art. This blurring creates an environment where one wonders if the artists are actually unpaid advertisers and as such merely the pawns of the real estate developers. This gentrification hollows out the neighborhood so that it is merely a destination and a hip place to live. There is no way actual artists can afford to live in that neighborhood, so it's not as though it's a thriving community of creatives like the lower east side was back in the day. It's more like a movie set designed to simulate a creative life.
But I digress. This graffiti writer took it upon himself to go on a bombing rampage, throwing up his tags over a bunch of the bushwick collective's murals. This mural, however, is not part of the bushwick collective, so it was lumped in with a group it doesn't belong with. I was actually commissioned to paint the piece and, unlike the artists that paint for the so called "collective", I got paid. Who knows who is getting paid for creating all that art in the neighborhood besides the real estate tycoons.
In response to the vandalism of my artwork, I went and fixed the damage the next day. The writer then responded by hitting my mural again, this time with what i thought was some rather histrionic prose declaring himself king of bushwick. I again went back to fix it, but this time, instead of attempting to conceal the damage, I decided to embrace the change. Back channel the tagger was harassing me on instagram, bullying me by calling me homophobic slurs. Seems he thought it wasn't enough to disrespect my Indigenous relative, he had to also attempt to insult me using words I didn't find insulting being as how I am queer. I found it ironic that he was exerting his manhood and claiming his territory by visually beating up on a 14 year old native girl and a woman artist. But that is how the patriarchy teaches men to behave.
I think it's way past time for us to evolve away from that paradigm.
Over the previous two years, many people have tagged that wall. It's just how things go on the street. I don't mind, I enjoy the accumulation to a certain extent, however, it did appear to be getting out of hand when someone threw a blob of brown paint with an uncannily precise aim which landed on her right eye. I recently went back to freshen her up and repainted her eye. It doesn't exactly match perfectly, but this is the way things evolve sometimes.
You may think this is the end of the story but there is more. Things get sticky over there in Bushwick. Click through to read about the McDonald's scandal.