Art Thieves Suck

Art theft: it sounds glamorous, until it HAPPENS TO YOU.

An entire two-block area over the future Sound Transit station is slated for demolition at the end of the year, and Barbara Luecke of STart (Sound Transit Art) came up with the idea to make a bunch of temporary art installations with the boarded-up buildings and empty storefronts. There’s some really cool stuff already, like Carl Smool’s hanging, billowing parachutes in a former nail salon.

I suggested that Friends of the Nib (our cartooning group) take a stab at transforming the old Jack-in-the-Box (ugly) that was boarded up (horribly, horribly ugly). There were thumbs-ups all around, everyone gave Jim Woodring some art, and he managed to format it all into a really cool mural:


Sound Transit did digital transfers onto six-foot-tall vinyl banners, which they screwed onto the building. My piece is the light blue one, “Joe’s Mouth”:


The whole thing stayed up for maybe a week before the banners started getting stolen, slashed off the screws that were holding them in place. It really sucked to watch them disappear. Mine was one of the last to go, which actually feels strangely insulting.

There’s been a fair bit of press about it – the Stranger’s Jen Graves warned, “Don’t make Ellen Forney go out there nights with a shotgun,” Regina Hackett of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer calls it “art-collecting with a razor,” and KOMO TV did a spot featuring the first-hit Bob Rini, including a newscaster creeping around pointing out the holes in the fence, talking in that “OH MY GOD” voice:


They intend to reinstall the mural, attached with some mega-adhesive to the building. It’s mostly stupid and frustrating to me. We’re trying to spiff up an eyesore, for chrissakes. Can’t people just enjoy it there on the wall?

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