Chicago has a long, sad history of buffing graffiti brown, but now it seems that political murals are getting the same treatment. Last week, Alderman James Balcer (Ward 11) ordered that a mural in Bridgeport that that he disliked be painted over in the early morning without warning.
The mural had been painted by Gabriel Villa who had worked on it for the duration of the Version Festival and was shocked to discover that the Graffiti Blasters had painted it brown this past Thursday morning. The Bridgeport Alderman did not contact the property owner, nor the artist before ordering the Blasters to erase what they even recognized and called public art. More so, the wall that the mural was painted upon was owned by the mother of Ed Marszewski, a festival organizer.
After being grilled by the press today Alderman Balcer came up with several reasons for his decision — including that the artist did not have a permit to make the mural. Yet, permits are not needed for private buildings.
The real reason for his decision likely resided in the content of the mural which featured police surveillance cameras that are omnipresent in the neighborhood.
Ald. James Balcer was quoted saying, “You know I don’t know if there was hidden gang meaning behind it with the cross, with the skull, with the deer, with the police camera’s. Was there something anti-police about it? I don’t know what’s in his mind. That’s how I viewed it.”
Feel free to contact him and express your disgust with his decision:
3659 S. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60609
Check out the news video to hear more quotes from the artists and Alderman Balcer.